September 07, 2010

A message from Eido Shimano

We were sent a copy of the following message from Eido Shimano Roshi. It originally came from the office of the Zen Studies Society and was sent to Sangha members. We confirmed with ZSS that we would post it only with their approval. They gave it, and expressed the hope that it might reach readers who could not be contacted directly.

September 7, 2010

Dear Friends,

I would like to acknowledge the pain and unnecessary suffering you went through in your hearts due to my faults. I have a profound feeling of remorse for my actions.

This August marked my 50th anniversary in the United States. During this half-century I have received so much from people the world over. Over time, I took your kindness for granted and arrogance grew in my heart. As a result, my sensitivity to feel the pain of others decreased. Now, as I reflect on the past, I realize how many people's feelings and trust in me were hurt by my words and deeds. Please accept my heartfelt apology.

My mother was the person who encouraged me the most to follow Buddha's path. Tomorrow is her memorial day, as she passed away on September 8, 1986. Hearing her voice, I have decided to observe my 50th anniversary in the United States by stepping down from my position as abbot of the Zen Studies Society on the last day of Rohatsu sesshin in 2010.

Even though I carry sadness in my heart, as a Buddhist monk, my vow to practice will not end. In order to preserve the Dharma legacy, ensure the training of future teachers, and to purify my own karma, I must march on.


Eido Shimano

The 2010 calendar of ZSS activities will not be affected, the Board says in a follow-up email.

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Harold Weisberg alias Rodo-San's picture

It's all about LOVE.

Mike's picture

All Beings without number, we VOW to cherish.
Blind passion endlessly rising, we VOW to uproot.
Dharma gates beyond measure, we VOW to pentetrate.
The Great Way of Buddha, we VOW to walk.

" You aren’t Zen practitioners.”

“RA – They are a part of the problem.”

" Interesting. So far your exquisite zazen stinks and has no shine. But maybe you enjoy the smell."

" each member has to adapt on their own, if they are sincere, they’ll find a way."

There are many ways. To be the Great One, each one must cleave to these four vows. There is no teacher but these vows. I am not a Buddhist but I do understand the value of taking these four vows as the goal and the bottom line of each day.

We all fall short of this grace. So what? Get up and keep walking. Be mindful of, resolved to, and renewed by this purpose.

Anonymous's picture

"Why cant we change and be more mature about this and stop this useless acrimony?"

Is it really useless? Perhaps to one who is reconciled himself with high flawed individuals promoting false, if exciting, dharmas.

Cliff Startup {Jinta}'s picture

There aint no easy way out of this situation. But as always, It is important to stick to the point. We all agree upon the preciousness of zazen and the traditions of Zen practice leading us to a wonderful life. We want to somehow preserve this, cultivate it and pass it on.
These transgressions the Roshi has committed are inexcusable in themselves and also present a major obstruction to the continuation of Zen practice.
Eido Roshi always had the passion and dynamism to inspire and motivate the sangha. He was charismatic and charming. This is a necessary quality for a person in his position. Naturally with fire comes its danger. No one was there to warn the innocent and so
many severe casualties resulted.
It seems to me that The Zen Studies Society has been in this bind for the last 50 years: Who can do what Eido Roshi can do?
Who else can bring to life the mystery and excitement of the Zen mind? On the other hand, so many really sincere women were hurt and their sense of trust destroyed. Without this inner trust real practice is impossible.Then the infectious epidemic of disharmony within the sangha went off like a fragmentary bomb, killing those who were nearest.
The rewards of Zen practice are truly boundless but they are only attained through great risk and peril. As these things are personal, it is up to us to be introspective. We always knew Eido Roshi very well. Those who didnt should have been told. Was Ryokan any different? Anyway: Isn't the bell tied to the cat now? Roshi wont change. Why cant we change and be more mature about this and stop this useless acrimony?

Spike's picture

--“If anyone doubts that Shinge Roshi Roko Sherry Chayat’s actions have been and continue to be self-serving and enabling of Shimano tyranny, read the Shimano Archive and judge for yourself. Do the work. There were so many opportunites to do the right thing and to take a stand (with teeth), that were passed up. Why?”

She has been fully aware of the problems with Shimano, for example see 1993 Women’s Workshop

When has she taken a real stance?"--

Wait a minute: Ms. Chayat signed and helped draft this document! If you read it, how can you have this take on it? The idea of having women-only sessions in Beecher House, eestablishing Big Sister-type realtionships, etc. ... really, to me this is very poignant, specific, and "real".

Some people on this and other blogs have harshly criticized the behavior and perceived intentions of Ms. Chayat. Some apparently seem to think that they understand them quite well. If it is true that Mr. Shimano had sex with Ms. Chayat, as some claim, then by FTI's and many other's definition, Ms. Chayat is a de facto victim of sex abuse. Victims of sex abuse may suffer a lifetime from pain, guilt, confusion, clinical trauma, clinical depression, etc. Some may see their marriages dissolve as a direct result. So my question is this: if Ms. Chayat is a victim of sex abuse, where does your critical abuse of her come from? (Not a koan). How could you (dare you!) engage in attacks that are presumptuous, speculative, and possible very re-hurtful? And then also, is there not an irony in the realization that a victim of Mr. Shimano's alleged abuse is now poised to assume leadership of his former organization?

Anonymous's picture


I thought you were a straight shooter, and, back in the day, you probably were -- some of the time.

But, now by your own description you seem to have spent much time doing gung-ho zazen but, perhaps, too little time feeling and thinking about the sanghas you have been part of.

Consider this one line from what you wrote above:

"After all, following morning service, a breakfast special at Kasey’s reveals all, Eido Roshi was the teacher and I was the student.

(Note to readers: Kasey's Corner was a diner down the block from the city temple of Zen Studies. There some students practicing at the temple met before and / or after zazen and chatted. The chatting lead to the sharing of information, including what we learned about Soen, Shimano and the practice, and more. Not a few friendship were born there.)

Yes, the information about Shimano was shared among those going to Kasey's, but different conclusions were drawn regarding what to make of it all. Clearly the majority opinion was to leave Zen Studies and Shimano's perversion of the buddhadharma.

It seems, in your case, as in others', that meditation instruction and creating an earthily elegant space in accordance with Japanese Zen Aesthetics is enough. To some, perhaps including you, it seems that so-called teachers who teach "do Zazen then do what you please" are as good as teachers who teach meditation and something closer to Mahayana Buddhism including compassion, keeping the precepts, and keeping one's vows.

To many it became clear that it was just about "sexual misconduct," but that Eido's teachings turned into something that were not Buddha's, Bodhidharma's, Rinzai's or Soen's. Your time with Kyduo in Jerusalem should have clued you in that something may have been amiss with Shimano.

Rodo, one day, when you have the time, review all the files in In the meantime please review this particular file: 10/27 Letter from Zournas to Shimano

Please reconsider.

Be well.

Olivia's picture

To Rodo-San, Harold Weisberg,

How sad that your message speaks more kin to the human nature and mentality of your teacher Eido Shimano than Kyudo Roshi. And who are you apart from them as you clearly relate to us the great differences between the two men? They both sat the same practice. They both had the same teacher. Who have you become? A man whose look into this past history is how wonderful you were? A man who mockingly exults Bill Clinton and Eido Shimano on the backs of the multiple damage to the lives of many women students?

I pray you have no daughters. Would you have sent them to study with your teacher, Eido Shimano? But no matter for you if he tenderly seduced, and in Shimano Dharmakaya later allowed them to be ravaged under his directorship, because... "He gave me Zen practice and turned it into exquisite Zazen". Interesting. So far your exquisite zazen stinks and has no shine. But maybe you enjoy the smell.

Anonymous's picture

From Aitken Roshi's final interview:
as posted in the Shimano Archive:

JW = Joel Whitney, a freelance reporter for Tricycle Magazine
RA = Robert Aitken

"JW – Is there anything you would like to say to the people for instance in his [Shimano's] circle, in his orbit who have maybe helped foster his behavior or enabled it?

"RA – They are a part of the problem."

Anon's picture

" To all you people who sympathize with Marinello, Chayat, and the board: You aren’t Zen practitioners."

This buddha must demure. This bumpkin does not seek sympathy in the mud on his shoes. This Zen practice you find so worthy? Show it to me.

Harold Weisberg alias Rodo-San's picture

It was the fall of 1975, Eido Roshi was mysteriously missing and Soen Roshi was giving, Teisho, Dokusan and Sesshin (- see Larry Shainberg's book "Ambivalent Zen"). It was a most important time in my spiritual practice and the New York's zendo's soul. It culminated in the Rohatsu of Dec. 1975. Jinta and me sat every night competiting on how long and how great our samadhi was, or how we were both crazy. The morning of the last night, (Buddha's enlightentment against MARA), Eido Roshi takes the high seat and to our amazement disbanded the New York Zendo sangha and retreated to the DEEP mountains of the Catskills, called Daibosatsu mountain.
During the Christmas/New Year break, threre was lots of speculation, nevertheless the ZSS schedule had a winter Rohatsu at Daibosatsu. Since I was in the Zen Zone of zen practice, I signed up. After all it was a sesshin with both Soen Roshi and Eido Roshi. It was not a disappointing sesshin as the zendo was full but not overcrowded. There was a blizzard on the second day. Eido Roshi and Soen Roshi were battling over the translation of "on opening "the" dharma or "this" dharma... We can now see "it" or "this". I think Soen Roshi won this argument. " On opening this Dharma". Suddenly a stomach flu hit, and almost the entire participants were in the bathroom and not the zendo. On the last morning, the wind stopped, the flu left and the sun came out. The sky was blue and somehow there was some kind of purification or understanding of the dharmakaya.
The upheaval in the sangha,left me homeless as Nensho, whose apartment I was subletting returned to the city, and took back his apartment that I was subletting. Since there was a vancacy at the the New York Zendo I applied for residency. Eido Roshi objected, as he wanted Roy, but somehow the Board gave me the residency. After awhile Eido Roshi admitted that I was the best resident director up to that time.
All I wanted to do was, chant the Heart Sutra, scream Kanzeon, and make my 4 Great Vows and Zazen, Zazen and more Zazen. Somehow this was infectious to other people and New York Zendo began filling up with new aspirants.
One day Eido Roshi called me to Daibusatsu in order to discuss the schedule. What was planned for Nirvanna day, Gempo's memorial and Buddha's birthday. I had no idea. So I invited him to New York, for a one day sitting, an evening memorial and a weekend Sesshin. I knew I couldn't conduct services but maybe he should? It could be said, that I was the most influential person in the Rebirth of the New York sangha in 1976! I have no regrets and was always honest with every new student. After all, following morning service, a breakfast special at Kasey's reveals all,
Eido Roshi was the teacher and I was the student. After two years I decided to leave New York Zendo and head toward Jerusalem and participate with the Dead Sea Sangha and study with Kyudo Roshi. Eido Roshi was furious but in the end wished me the best. After all i
Think all Buddhist are jealous of Jews and viceerversa. It just might be respect.
I met Kyudo Roshi, a disciple of Soen, and wanted to study with him on the Mt. Of Olives. He is the exact opposite of Eido . How could two zen masters from the same teacher be so different? One is into power and attachment and the other has no corners and no attachments? It's all in Larry Shainberg's book.
So here I'm writing a defense of Eido Roshi and don' t mention his teachings. He is my Zen Teacher. He gave me Zen practice and turned it into exquisite Zazen. He taught me life and death!
32 years later, I have a wife, two kids grown up and I still practice every morning, more or less, the 4 great vows. Thank you Eido Roshi, as "what more do we seek as the truth is reveaveales" .I hope you retire in peace and give great lectures. I hope you command the same fees as Bill Clinton a great president that is being reevaluated fornhis great works!

Rodo San


REDdirt's picture

This "shimanoarchive" is not someone busy dusting the mirror?

Anonymous's picture

"I admire what they are trying to do, and am saddened by the slurs, innuendoes, etc., directed against them that make their jobs that much harder, I’m sure."

Are you kidding? Have you seen how long this process has taken? Have you seen how Marinello and Chayat attempted to silence and cut down anyone who brought these accusations to light? How people are pandering to their image of what Zen is and what it should be, and how this image is preventing people from seeing what is RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEIR FACES? I will spell it out for you. Marinello and Chayat, as well as the board, will do anything in their power to save face and protect their reputation, image, and institution. This is not a slur; this is something supported by concrete emails and historical documents posted all over the internet, which they have both admitted to producing. They have only acted because the pressure has grown too intense to pretend as if nothing has happened. They don't care about the victimized women of this travesty. They care about their institutional power and propagating an image of Zen and the "roshi." They care about holding on to power for themselves. Has anyone noticed how the people who are in charge at this moment are the people who have done everything they can to prevent action from being taken against Shimano?

To all you people who sympathize with Marinello, Chayat, and the board: You aren't Zen practitioners. If you truly practiced, you would be able to see the bull**** that's been thrown at you throughout this whole insane and cultish escapade. Zen practitioners use their reason and look at what's in front of your faces. Throw away that image of the clean-cut, compassionate priest. Shimano has a criminal mind (exact quote from Robert Aitken, though anyone can see this if you look at the evidence), and by defending him, Marinello and Chayat are just as bad because they enabled, and encouraged through inaction, his behavior. They need to find a real teacher, sit zazen, and examine themselves without their institutional **** getting in the way. And in the meantime, they shouldn't have anything to do with Zen as an institution. Anywhere.

Non-zen practitioners who know the severity of this scandal (i.e. the details of the cases of victimized women) and the gross inaction on the part of sangha members and leadership think we're a bunch of idiots pandering to a cult of personality. You might say that "they don't get it" because they don't understand the nuances of what's going on, or the institution, or Zen. Actually, no, in this case, we don't get it, because if we did, Shimano would have been on a plane back to Japan in the late 60s and never allowed in this country again.

Anonymous's picture

You claim reasonable changes have been proposed. But... Are they really sufficient?

So far it seems that Roko and Genjo are not going to fight the outrageous severance pay Shimano wants and they certainly are not going to be send Shimano packing. Instead they'll do as he want and elevate him to Abbot Emeritus and he will still be calling the shots behind the scenes or as he wrote "ensure the training of future teachers." Does this not refer to Roko and Genjo?

Old time students who have been bestowed the mantle are said to share the same eyebrows with their teacher. Does that not mean the same values as well? In a case such as this it's seems clear to everyone except those who are very much part of the organization to see that they've become too comfortable with each other. So much so there's whitewashing going on even now even as the information about Shimano is virtually irrefutable.

Will all of a sudden the environment at the temples change? Or will the environment change in name only?

Someone on the Genkaku Blog wrote something that folks need to consider:

"If anyone doubts that Shinge Roshi Roko Sherry Chayat's actions have been and continue to be self-serving and enabling of Shimano tyranny, read the Shimano Archive and judge for yourself. Do the work. There were so many opportunites to do the right thing and to take a stand (with teeth), that were passed up. Why?"

She has been fully aware of the problems with Shimano, for example see 1993 Women's Workshop

When has she taken a real stance? Or has her goal simply been not to antagonize the master so she can get her credential from this man who continually has disgraced himself as a teacher for 46 years and who has shamed American Zen Buddhism? In the end such a credential is worse than useless.

The problem is truly beyond internal rectification. And that's really a problem.

Anonymous's picture

Dear Anonymous, above,

There are lots of opinions and accusations out there, aren't there? I guess that's just "normal" when people are upset and fearful. But I hope the ZSS sangha can rise above it. We don't have to believe everything we think, much less everything we hear, do we? Isn't that what our Zen practice has taught us? Whatever may have been the case in the past, there is an opportunity NOW to make changes. The bylaws are being revised to make ZSS a membership society, so the members well elect the board, at the instigation of Genjo and Roko. So, they just can't be all that bad. I'm looking at their responses now, in this situation, and I see reasonable people doing reasonable things in a very difficult situation. I admire what they are trying to do, and am saddened by the slurs, innuendoes, etc., directed against them that make their jobs that much harder, I'm sure.

Anonymous's picture

Dear Anonymous - September 26, 2010

Your analysis on the whole seems reasonable; however, your overt and implicit praise for Genjo and Roko does not.

On at least one other blog Genjo has been accused of being behind the attempt to whitewash Shimano's Bio on Wikipedia. If this is true, this has caused some to have legitimate concern that he is insincere, perhaps more concerned for the legitimacy of his supposed transmission than for sangha.

Roko's silence should not be mistaken for something it is not.
Her reputation, her actions, and most importantly her inaction must be taken into account. E. i. How many of the female victims has she helped in the 1970's, the 1980's, the 1990's? Who has she spoken out for? What does she proposed to do as Vice Abbot -- an appointment position she must agree to?

Here's one opinion about her posted on to counter balance you praise for her:

The Genkaku Blog Eido Tai Shimano entry

Anonymous said...

Roko is a "place holder" for Shimano. She will serve her master to hold the abbocy until the master manipulator makes a choice of a younger, (probably Japanese), monk to fill the slot. He will never relinquish control and will con the Board just the same as he's conned all the prior Boards....

September 26, 2010 10:40 PM

Kobutsu Malone's picture

The archive index numbers are subject to change. It is better to refer to the date and specific file name.

Anonymous's picture

Thanks Spike. Yes, the board is in a very difficult position. They have the duty to protect the sangha from Eido Roshi's misconduct and to preserve the financial viability of ZSS if they can. Without Eido Roshi's cooperation, their 2nd duty will be much more difficult if not impossible. The Shimano's have contracts entitling them to 70% of their salaries, with 4% annual cost of living increses, plus occupancy in the apartment with all expenses paid, plus health insurance, for the rest of their lives. (This is spelled out in shimano archive #283, page 3.) I don't know what the Roshi's salary is, but Andy Afable's salary was $4,000/month at the time of his separation in 2003. Presumably Eido Roshi's salary is somewhat larger than that, so this is a very large sum of money. It would cost probably somewhere between $700k-$1million to buy such an annuity today. If ZSS doesn't pay it, then the Shimanos can sue. Litigation is expensive, and since Eido Roshi's misconduct was known at the time the retirement agreement was made, it's not likely a court would set aside the agreement based on Eido Roshi's misconduct.

So, the board needs both Eido Roshi's and his wife's cooperation and agreement in order to modify their retirement pensions. Probably property will have to be sold to meet these obligations. These are cold hard facts.

While all the anger around this is understandable, it's very sad that it has spread out to character assassination against the very people who appear to have finally taken this matter seriously and have taken steps to remove Eido Roshi, bring in outside experts to assist and advise, and to bring as much discernment (I believe this is a quaker term that means open inquiry, considering all viewpoints) as possible to healing and moving forward. Others have walked away, time and again. Genjo and Roko have stayed in this heartbreaking situation, exposing themselves to calumny and malice, in order to salvage what is possible in the way of a Zen training institution.

You're right, Spike, ZSS can never be the same. It may be that it will have to be closed. Certainly it will be greatly reduced in size and capacity. Some may see that as a good thing. For others it may be a great loss. But, as you say, even if each member has to adapt on their own, if they are sincere, they'll find a way.

Spike's picture

Sorry, reference is shimanoarchive 314, not 316. Spike is starting to geeze.

Spike's picture

The ZSS Board is fighting on at least two fronts. First, the immorality issue of the Abbot. Everybody agrees: separation should occur at the soonest. For many people, it can't be soon enough. But second, there is also the survival of the organization and its Sangha, and the threat of having to drastically downsize as the result of Mr. Shimano's pension plan.

There are several scenarios on how to deal with this latter problem. Ignore it, because the immorality issue overrides all. Accept it, and wind up knee-capped financially. Fight it, drag it out, spend a lot of money on lawyers, and hope for the best. Or try to reason with the Roshi, all the while maintaining a cordial, if strained, relationship, in the interest of providing for the organization and Sangha, and that may include trying to retain at least either Shobo-ji or Kongo-ji.

In this mess, I believe the Sangha has the best chance for a good outcome, even if each member has to adapt on his or her own, because if they are sincere, they will find a way. But ZSS likely will never be the same.

Oh, and the persons who drew up the Shimano pension plan? Mr. Fernando Afable and a lawyer (shimanoarchive, #316, page 3, near the top.

Olivia's picture


I'm working my way around the dissapointment I feel on reading your post! I do, however, agree with you completely on taking issue with anyone giving strong charges without strong verification. This is even in spite of the fact that the statements made by Senjo are in fact more on the believable side than not - at least for me. But I also find it hard to read.

Please keep in mind that none of these more agressive comments would be here to be made if Eido Shimano had been a reasonably decent Abbot (Abba=Father). He has created chaos and intense conflictual feelings, and he has been doing it periodically for over 40 years. That is part of his lineage. Given all the ways this energy could, past and present, could be focused in the world and on Sangha students and their potentials (rather than damaging lives and potentials), it's very angering to me that he does little to cool it in the way your describe Maezumi Roshi was humble enough to do. The two are not comparable.

Perhaps the most important issue is keeping ES away from students - not just new students. ZSS has acknowledged that ES is "repeatedly dangerous to students of the way". While I see some moves toward separation, I see more toward a comfortable retirement (note word change from "resignation"), future invitations to present Teisho, and a fairly long period of time being present to help Roko in her position as Abbot.

I find the duplicity of relationships and Shimano's continued involvment within ZSS irresponsible and inexcusable. It does not speak well to me of the leadership of Roko or Genjo or Richard Rudin. As someone said above "it's stunning to watch".

Daniel Kaplan's picture

This long history of Eido Tai Shimano Roshi's misdeeds, and abuse of sangha members seems headed for some closure. I Want to echo what Ms Spooner writes above about the 'strong charges' made without evidence of even alluding to what was said that was false etc. I have to say for my part, my immediate anger had me thinking "Why wait until Rohatsu? If he's in the wrong, resign effective immediately." I still sort of feel that way but do understand that the ZSS board is proceeding in a manor that seems deliberate and measured , with complete attention. It also seems, as one might expect, many many hurts among the ZSS sangha and the wider maha sangha. Genjo Marinello's statements listed above made me pause and see around the anger I feel at repeated, ongoing misdeeds to this day. As is so often the case, it may not even be what was done, but the 'cover up' or denial of what was done, that causes the most damage and hurt.
Reminds me that ages ago, when Maezumi roshi was confronted by senior students about his drinking and womanizing, his response was, "You're right. I need help. Please help me." NO ONE is without flaw; it's how we relate to them and what we do with them that makes the difference.

REDdirt's picture

Is it possible the buddha we meet on the road is what we find of our self out in what ever comes along?

ZSS, ES, you, me are concerns, fallen leaves floating down onto the surface of a lake which just sits endlessly rises and falls wave after wave after wave. Finally leaves just floating on a surface.

IT is not that we disregard concerns. It is how we keep them in context that matters.

Anonymous's picture

There is more than one precept involved here -- not just sexual misconduct. We also take up the precept not to spread malicious gossip. Think about the malice and ill-will that causes you to repeat rumors about Roko that you do not personally know to be true.

EM Tom's picture

Thank you , thank you Mr. Lagomarsino for speaking up.

The Zen Studies Society has managed to funnel its "change is coming" line of rubbish through Mr. Genjo Joe Marinello, and it is very important that other voices be heard.

No change is coming. It is irrelevant that Mr. Shimano is leaving the administrative role of abbot. Is he leaving the property of the organization and taking Ms. Chyatt, Mr. Marinello and trustee Richard Rudin with him, that's what we want to know.

The shimano-dharma is a poisoned dharma. Manipulative, destructive, dishonest, disreputable.

The window of opportunity for the Board to remove Ms. Chyatt, Mr. Marinello and Mr. Rudin from the Board is rapidly closing. They still have enough votes, within the 60 day window of the three resignations by Seigan Ed Glasing, etc., to vote them off the board.

And, once Ms. Chyatt becomes abbot, a UNANIMOUS vote from the board is required to get rid of her. The bylaws are the bylaws of a cult.

The Zen Studies Society should rid itself of the shimano-dharma and hire a teacher from OUTSIDE the organization, as previous boards have considered. An outside expert can offer them some advise in choosing a new teacher; David Loy, for example, seems to have a good head on his shoulders.

Ms. Chyatt or Mr. Marinello can then adopt Mr. Shimano into their own zendos, if they think so highly of him. The Zen Studies Society deserves a clean start, instead of operating like the incest family it has become.

Carol Spooner's picture

Those are strong charges about Shinge Roshi. I don't know her and I don't know you and I wasn't there. But I have a strong aversion to people making such damning charges about someone without backing them up with (1) how you know them to be true and (2) specific details. To call someone a liar without saying what they said that was false and what the truth is (from your perspective, at least), is just flapping your lips maliciously.

Also, to infer that something is true simply because someone does not stoop to denying rumors is the worst kind of malicious gossip. It is beneath contempt (even if it is true).

Senjo Andrew Lagomarsino's picture

I would like to add that Roko's recent lies and manipulative behavior are not unlike the some of the past maneuverings of Eido Roshi himself.


Senjo Andrew Lagomarsino's picture

Shinge Roshi as new abbot of The Zen Studies Society is a very poor choice. Throughout the latest sex scandal, she completely took Eido Roshi’s side, contemptuously talked down to the other board members, acted pettily on numerous occasions, and actively tried to undermine the board’s efforts to hold him accountable. Her actions have been extremely self-serving and not befitting a potential abbot. All this despite the possibility of having a two-fold conflict of interest: 1) as Dharma heir, and 2) allegedly having had past sexual relations with Eido Roshi, something she hasn’t denied. Her installation will precede the completion of the structural changes in the board. I and a number of people are greatly disappointed in Roko’s conduct and are concerned about her lack of spiritual authority and genuine leadership qualities.

Senjo Andrew Lagomarsino

Kobutsu Malone's picture

Dear "anonymous - September 22, 2010" (Yesterday I had a coversation with a PhD Jungian)

Your post is truly outstanding, cutting to the heart of the matter with stunning clarity.

Please contact me (in complete confidence), my contact information can be found at the bottom of the site

anonymous's picture

Yesterday I had a coversation with a PhD Jungian who was the director of a large organization in NYC. Her comment was "to those of us watching this from the outside, it's stunning. It's stunning to imagaine that this man (Eido Shimano) continues as Abbot even for one day. It's shameless and has all the markings one expects to find in an unhealthy hierarchical cult. It's certainly not about liberation".

I apologize for having to remain anonymous, but I am a woman who became involved in a student/teacher sexual relationship with Eido Shimano (absolutely not initiated by me). I'm not willing to be more traumatized by this organization than has already happened. However, that relationship is documented but clearly without effect. I am willing to make this post here and hope that it may move others to directly oppose the actions of the ZSS Board.

Some of you believe that the solution for this can only come from legal action taken by the women who have been abused. It would create pressure, but it will not create the long term change needed if the ZSS Board is determined to go forward with Eido Shimano in tow along with all the deception and biased discernments required to accomplish that. (Discernment is a Quaker word used to describe the process of reaching a collective/unified decision in which the concerns of all members are included.)

One example - a spiritual leader of the Himalayan Institute (Swami Rama) was sued for 1 million dolloars for sexual and emotional abuse of an adult woman student. Today, his pictures remain throughout the building and the organization has whitewashed his image. Occasionally a dedicated student discovers this, is upset and confused by it, and then leaves.

The organizations that truly turned around had strong pressure from inside and supportive peers on the outside. The end result was a clear separation, and not one that has to continually defend itself or, for example, write letters asking AZTA members to disregard a petition that included views other than their own - not to mention documented facts. (this would not fly as discernment)

The example of Swami Rama occured in the 70's. It was easier to whitewash at that time. ZSS and Eido Shimano have stepped over plently of people and basic ethical standards in the past. It's stunning to think that it could happen again.

I continue to practice, and clear untwisted zazen is a beautiful practice - even when life is difficult – maybe especially when it's difficult . It was not potentially liberating as long as I remained hooked in any way to Eido Shimano. He's a very sick man. I don't feel vengence toward him, but I do know him well and he is not anything close to what I would now choose as guide and mentor toward a process of "liberation". It's impossible if the tools are twisted beyond recognition. It's impossible for minds that twist and turn to right so many wrongs. I know. I was initially willing to lie about my own involvment - having been asked by Eido Shimano to do so.

Now I try to keep energy and time with untwisted (or at least untwisting) people and tools, and a simple regular practice. My deep apologies to the maha-sangha for my mistakes. "No more" is a fine phrase.

Carol Spooner's picture

Dear Genjo,

Thank you for your public statements. It cannot be easy to be in your position -- of having believed this was all old dried shit and being proved wrong, of loving your teacher while acknowledging that he has lied to you and many others, of coming to grips with the great harm Eido Shimano has done while still knowing he has done good for you and others, too. It is tragic, as you say.

Some thoughts: I hope that Eido Roshi will not be invited to give teisho at ZSS for a very long time … a very long time during which he contemplates the great harm he has done and recognizes that he cannot sit in an honored place as a teacher unless and until he sits in humility and purification and disgrace for as long as it takes, and then some, perhaps for the rest of his life. Staying away would show proper respect and remorse and would, in itself, be the best teaching he has to give at this point.

I'm glad you are revising the bylaws. It is a dangerous thing for zen centers to give so much power to the abbot/head teacher. The board must be independent and be able to act to protect the sangha without interference from the abbot/head teacher, who should not sit on the board or appoint members to the board.

I'm also glad that you are undertaking a forensic audit. It is important to straighten all this out. There are many questions about the apartment and also Eido Roshi's retirement pension package. From what I've read in the Shimano Archive, ZSS may be bound by a contract for a certain dollar amount in retirement pension for him. Such contracts are difficult to break. However, I hope the board has engaged a good independent lawyer to advise you if there is a possibility of renegotiating. Likewise with the apartment. In addition to the spiritual harm Eido Roshi did to all those whose trust he violated, he has done grievous financial harm to ZSS. I'm sure your fundraising activities are crippled and have been for a long time as a result of his conduct and bad reputation. Taking a reduced pension and/or moving out of the apartment so that it can be sold would be ways for him to demonstrate his remorse and concern for the future of ZSS and all who come to train there.

While some people in their pain and anger do sound spiteful and vengeful, these are not spiteful suggestions … but reasonable steps to set things right, make amends, as far as possible. So, I hope you will not be pushed into a polarized view or position in response to the anger that is being directed at you. Yours is not an easy position. I admire your courage and forthrightness, and wish you and ZSS and everyone concerned the wisdom and compassion necessary to walk this difficult path.

Also, I hope many people will sign Andy Afable's petition. I think it is important for people, especially zen teachers, to go on record by name that Eido Roshi's conduct is not acceptable in American zen centers, and also to give comfort and support to those who were harmed and ignored or disregarded for so long -- and I hope you will take it in that spirit.

Anonymous's picture

"As to Eido Roshi’s relationship with the Zen Studies Society after 12/8/10, this is currently a matter of much discussion by the Board. I cannot go into details on this because we are in the middle of our own discernment."

Discernment? OK. Strange word, but it sounds like an attempt at due diligence; and I trust that the diligence is in service of the Dharma and the Sangha and not loyalty to Shimano.

As part of the compassionate forensic audit, you probably should get copies of at least the last few years of the Shimanos' tax returns and investigate all of their income including investments income before giving or promising a penny more of the Zen Studies Society assets which were never intended by Mrs. Carlson to support him especially after 1984. You should carefully read the correspondence from Mrs. Carlson. In particular review

The current board members need to realize that the Shimano Problem hasn't just been about sexual misconduct but about essentially unethical manipulation of finances as well. Verify everything that they claim; they will abuse any trust you give them.

Yes, of course prior board members naively or willingly agreed to whatever schemes the Shimano's hatched. But what will the current members the board do?

(Rev.) Jiro Andy Afable's picture

Judged by the standards of civil society, Buddhist law, clergy ethics, or any other standard applicable to the conduct of human affairs, Eido Shimano’s conduct has been a disgrace. It has been an affront not only to the monks and nuns of Dai Bosatsu Zendo, to the practitioners of New York Zendo Shobo-ji, to the Zen Studies Society Sangha, but to sincere Buddhist practitioners everywhere.

The repeated refusal of successive Boards of Directors of the Zen Studies Society, and now the current Directors as well, to apply minimal professional standards to their Abbot violates our sense of decency.

Given the undisputed record, nothing justifies The Zen Studies Society’s Board of Directors delaying even one more day in acting decisively to remove Eido Shimano.
Yet The Board of Directors, speaking through Genjo Marinello, says: “As to Eido Roshi’s relationship with the Zen Studies Society after 12/8/10, this is currently a matter of much discussion by the Board. I cannot go into details on this because we are in the middle of our own discernment.”

I understand that at the Sept 4 meeting attended by the Board, some Sangha, and the Faith Trust Institute, the Institute made the recommendation that Eido Shimano be removed from The Zen Studies Society as soon as possible.

It is quite clear that the Board is trying to finesse a face-saving exit for Eido Shimano, which would give him a presence in the organization after he “retires”. This despite the fact that the Directors recognize that there are “women… who are having trouble coping with the ramifications from inappropriate relationships” (with the abbot). If Eido Shimano’s resignation is not a complete relinquishing of his spiritual and administrative presence in The Zen Studies Society, all the women who were victims will feel that the organization sanctions the abbot’s behavior and even rewards him for it.

Later, in his concluding paragraph, Genjo Marinello writes:
“We all have blind spots; unfortunately, Eido Roshi’s have proven to be repeatedly dangerous to the very Followers of the Way he has otherwise given his life to. Very tragic for him, the Sangha and most of all those he has wounded.”

Even recognizing that the Abbot has been “repeatedly dangerous to the Followers of the Way” the Board fails to act decisively on the resignation or removal of Eido Shimano. How very irresponsible and unprofessional.

If we are still trying to sort out what Genjo calls “our discernment” perhaps it is time to return to something simple and without obfuscation. What follows is Robert Aitken Roshi’s summons to Eido Shimano in May this year:

“There are many reports of your abuse of women published on the web which indicate that you have been involved in breaking the precepts over a period of more than 40 years. I would like to urge you to come forth and make a statement in response to these accusations.”

Sincerely yours,

Robert Aitken

adam's picture

The Rev. Andy Afable's description of his own separation from Zen Studies Society seems to offer a wonderful template for Mr. Shimano as well. It is clear and specific and simple, however bruising the realities may have been. Moreover, the process described removes ersatz 'spirituality' from the mix. It sounds like a process Mr. Shimano might use without surrendering too much of his self-esteem.

(Rev.) Jiro Andy Afable's picture

An online petition that calls on The Board of Directors of the Zen Studies Society takes the position that Eido Shimano has not really resigned.See (

It’s fairly easy to establish clarity about when someone resigns or quits an organization.

When the time came for me to leave the Zen Studies Society as the vice-abbot of Dai Bosatsu Zendo, I didn’t simply declare that “I was leaving”.

It was the Abbot, Eido Shimano, who asked his lawyer to prepare a “separation agreement” by his lawyer. It specified the date when my employment ended (as vice-abbot of Dai Bosatsu) and the conditions of my separation from the Zen Studies Society. I modified the prepared agreement and it went back to the abbot’s lawyer. Finally, we came to an agreement that was recognized by the Board as final.

Eido Shimano is very fastidious about procedural things.

It is this kind of clear, legally binding agreement that we are waiting for from the Board of The Zen Studies Society and the Abbot to make public. It will specify the time when the abbot is no longer an employee of The Society, and it will specify the conditions of separation.

The Board of Directors of Zen Studies Society has acknowledged that there are women who have suffered under the tenure of Eido Shimano. It would be an insult to the women if the Board came to an accommodation with Eido Shimano that lets him retain a presence in the Zen Studies Society that will give him administrative and spiritual authority into the future. No healing or reconciliation is possible if Eido Shimano “resigns” and yet continues to have any spiritual or administrative presence or influence with The Zen Studies Society.

The last thing anybody wants is for Eido Shimano to have de facto power, spiritual and administrative, over the Zen Studies Society past the date of his resignation or stepping down.

Therefore the “separation agreement” or “resignation agreement” will make clear that Eido Shimano, on relinquishing his position as Abbot, is truly resigning from the abbacy and any and all spiritual and administrative authority from The Zen Studies Society.

This will satisfy the concerns of the online petitioners, and it seems like a fairly simple task for the Board of Directors to accomplish.

For the sake of clarifying communications between The Zen Studies Society and all interested parties, I request that Soun Joe Dowling, the President of The Board of Directors of Zen Studies Society, communicate directly with Tricycle and the general public.

Anonymous's picture's/20100609_Marinello_AZTA.pdf

Anonymous's picture

How about addressing this Mr. Marinello:'s/20100609_Marinello_AZTA.pdf

and anything from your buddy Nonin about some of the stuff he said?

Genjo Marinello's picture

"why not disclose to the public what the real terms of Eido’s departure... will be?"

Indeed the ZSS Board will do just that once we have made up our own mind. However, let me review some of the steps that have been taken so far...

I don't know how to put it more plainly, but please be assured that Eido Shimano Roshi and his wife Aiho-san did resign from the Board of Directors of the Zen Studies Society on July 4th, 2010. Their resignations were formally accepted by the Board, and we meet regularly by conference call, and when we are able in person, without their presence or undue influence. In all previous cycles of complaints, Roshi and Aiho-san have remained on the Board and this did indeed create circumstances that hindered the proper processing of similar complaints.

After this date the board has gone on to:

Engage the FaithTrust Institute to help us process ethics complaints and consult with us on how to best achieve a positive future for our Society.

We have instigated a complete rewrite of the ZSS bylaws that will be membership based, with a much more democratic structure, which we hope to have in place by late January, 2011.

We are pursuing a "forensic" audit of the whole financial structure of the organization so that we can understand all our assets and liabilities from the ground up.

After completing the first phase of our ethics investigation, we concluded that a sincere letter of apology was needed, along with a much earlier retirement date for Roshi. The board made this known to Roshi at our Labor Day weekend meeting with him.

The Board meets face to face with the New York Sangha Labor Day weekend and everyone is heard.

Eido Roshi writes his letter of apology that announces his retirement as Abbot at the close of this training season 12/8/10. Roshi's retirement is officially accepted and acknowledged by the Board.

Aiho-san is scheduled to step down as the director of Shobo-Ji, New York City Zendo, by the first of the year. A new director(s) is being selected and will be in place by January 1st, 2011.

Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat Roshi will be installed as the new Abbot of the Zen Studies Society on January 2nd, 2011.

At every turn we have tried to respond promptly and with an open heart to every correspondence we have directly received to the Board or Ethics Committee.

As to Eido Roshi's relationship with the Zen Studies Society after 12/8/10, this is currently a matter of much discussion by the Board. I cannot go into details on this because we are in the middle of our own discernment.

Finally, as I stated in my own newsletter, as "women come forward who are having trouble coping with the ramifications from these inappropriate relationships, the ZSS Board and I personally will do our best to be helpful...

There are no Buddhas; if I meet one on the road of life, I have found a fraud. It is a delusion to believe that we are either Buddhas or bumpkins. Everyone should know that you will never find one without the other. The good news of Buddhism is that we are not just naked apes but also Buddhas.

I have been asked how could a “Roshi” be so blind? We all have blind spots; unfortunately, Eido Roshi’s have proven to be repeatedly dangerous to the very Followers of the Way he has otherwise given his life to. Very tragic for him, the Sangha and most of all those he has wounded."

Sobame's picture

It seems very odd that ES, a man who makes such a big deal about "Formal" documents, has this big chop collection, should submit a mere text email as his "quasi - resignation."

Reb Mendell's picture

Mr. Marinello,

Katy Butler writes above:

"I, too, am curious about the meaning of the [resignation] letter, specifically: ” In order to preserve the Dharma legacy, ***ensure the training of future teachers, *** and to purify my own karma, I must march on.” Does this mean [Eido] will practice as a simple monk? Or that Eido will resign as abbot (an administrative post), but continue to train future teachers?"

It seems that not a few people are puzzled by this statement in the resignation "letter" and what really is going to happen come December 8th.

By your post yesterday, you seem to be representing that Eido's resignation "letter" has been accepted and ratified by the ZSS Board with all the corporate formalities necessary to make it irrevocable and binding. Assuming that's true, then why not disclose to the public what the real terms of Eido's departure (or non-departure) will be?

Really now, Mr. Marinello, Eido and Yasuko together are probably receiving nearly $200,000 in total compensation from ZSS. Will this compensation be immediately terminated as of December 8th? Have their pensions been renegotiated? What about the parsonage apartment (which apparently is in Shimano's name personally but is actually a ZSS asset - has it been properly returned to the Society)? Has the ZSS Board resolved to permit the Shimanos to continue to live there on the Sangha's dime? Is Yasuko continuing to run New York Zendo as its Director? And back to Ms. Butler's question, what exactly is going to be the relationship between Eido and the ZSS as of December 8th? You say he has resigned as Abbot but will he be staying on in some other capacity?

We all deserve to know.

Anonymous's picture

As one who sits on the Board you should have known a lot of things Genjo. You didn't, and you belittled those who tried to bring the situation to your attention. Excuse those of us who doubt your credibility, your track record in knowing your last two teachers is not so hot.

Genjo Marinello's picture

As I sit on the board of the Zen Studies Society (ZSS), I should know if Eido Shimano's resignation letter has been tendered and accepted. It has. Soon the ZSS home page will reflect this. In today's world, Roshi's email to the entire ZSS Sangha is sufficient and binding.

(Rev.) Jiro Andy Afable's picture

"Has Eido Shimano Really Resigned?"

An online petition that calls for his immediate dismissal or withdrawal from The Zen Studies Society gives a clear answer to this question that has not been disputed by the Directors of The Zen Studies Society. I quote from

Someone has raised an important question: “What is the point of this
Petition if Eido Shimano has already resigned as Abbot?”
In fact, Eido Shimano has not resigned as Abbot. He has neither
tendered his resignation to the Zen Studies Society Board of Directors nor has the Board of Directors accepted his resignation. Nor have the
Directors dismissed him. There has been no “public” statement of the
Abbot’s resignation, no press release; just a brief email to the current
members of the Zen Studies Society mailing list and a curious notice on the ZSS website.

No, Eido Shimano has not resigned from his administrative and spiritual "duties" at The Zen Studies Society.

Katy Butler's picture

I, too, am curious about the meaning of the letter, specifically: " In order to preserve the Dharma legacy, ***ensure the training of future teachers, *** and to purify my own karma, I must march on."
Does this mean he will practice as a simple monk? Or that Eido will resign as abbot (an administrative post), but continue to train future teachers? I remember the fear at my own Zen Center years ago that if the teacher was "dethroned," "the transmission" or the lineage would be "lost." I don't think the dharma is that fragile: understanding arose for the Buddha through independent inquiry -- no finger pointed from the heavens. The Buddha also warned against superstitious practices. The good Eido taught will live on, and the bad, too, with or without formal transmission, just as it does for us all.

Has Eido Shimano Really Resigned? : Open Buddha's picture

[...] community about whether Eido Shimano has really resigned from his position, as the letter posted by Tricycle claims, or not (which I posted about the other day or if it is all just a kind of verbal bait and switch [...]

krishna sherchan's picture

How about, instead of the deep compassionate lens of Dharma, through which Eido has all too often been assessed (with pre-stamped minimzing and "forgiveness"), he be screened thusly:

Clark Strand's picture

In response to the Anoymous post #6 above, it was I who sent the email from Eido Shimano to Tricycle. I am a contributing editor at the magazine and a former senior editor.

Just to clear up any potential confusion, readers should note that Tricycle does not publish private correspondence without verifying its accuracy with the source and obtaining permission to do so. Correspondence is treated as private unless it is sent as a press release or otherwise flagged as an open letter (as, for instance, with Letters to the Editor). I suggested as much to the web editor Phil Ryan. But being a pro, he would have done this anyway as a matter of course.

Moreover, it appears that the ZSS board was happy to get the word out more broadly since they must now commit themselves to addressing this issue forthrightly if the Zen Studies Society is to remain a viable dharma institution on the American Buddhist scene. The question of whether it is right to retain Eido Shimano as Abbot of the Zen Studies Society until December is, of course, an open question, as some here have already suggested.

Barry Briggs's picture

Eido Shimano like an alcoholic who says that he's going to stop drinking on New Year's Day.

If Shimano was serious about putting an end to his addiction, he would resign effective today.

Anonymous's picture

This letter from Eido Shimano not only fails to respond to the genuine concerns of those hurt by his actions, it actually perpetuates his abuse.

Others have commented on Shimano's weaselly language about his mother and his vow.

Much more offensive, however, is this language:

"Over time, I took your kindness for granted and arrogance grew in my heart. As a result, my sensitivity to feel the pain of others decreased."

This passage, in effect, says that his actions were brought about by the actions of others.

By saying this, Shimano makes clear that his intention is to blame the victims for his own predations.

Further, he asserts that his "arrogance" and "decreased" sensitivity occurred over time, whereas the record makes it clear that Shimano engaged in sexual predation from the moment he began teaching in America.

The man is a sham and his organization continues to shelter him.


Anonymous's picture

Take it from someone who has known Eido Shimano for over thirty years, this is anything but a sincere apology. It is the same tired routine he has repeated each time he has been "caught with his robe open" for three decades. His "apology" is the product of a committee, superficially it might pass for an apology — for say, being the cause of a minor fender-bender. But if you read the entire site you will begin to grasp the depth and breath of his transgressions.

This text email is being perceived by the ZSS sangha in exile as another F*** you to the American people. He goes on about "my 50th anniversary," "My mother," "my 50th anniversary," and most unbelievably - "my vow."

He states "I have decided..." What an incredibly arrogant assertion! After all the suffering this man has inflicted on countless women, men and children, he is hardly in a position to be "deciding." He needs to be REMOVED from his position of authority over others IMMEDIATELY - not tomorrow, not in 2012, not "on the last day of Rohatsu sesshin."

Anonymous's picture

I appreciated this letter of apology.

I never met anyone from ZSS, but I have been reading about this issue here and in other places.

What Eido Shimano Roshi did caused a lot of suffering to many people directly involved with him or ZSS, and it is also very bad for the Dharma, damaging the faith and pure vision of practitioners.

In any case, the apology was straight-forward, human and apparently sincere. He said: "I have received so much from people the world over. Over time, I took your kindness for granted and arrogance grew in my heart". He also acknowledges he should purify his own karma.

This is an apology.