Thursday, February 24, 2011

History and the White Plum Asanga

George Santayana said, "Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it".   To avoid repeating history, one has to know it first.  The current situation surrounding Genpo Roshi suggests that the Salt Lake City Kanzeon Zen Center community did not know its history, through the fault of no one in particular.  That lack is being cured, if painfully.

There has been much fervent commentary on the web following Genpo's public revelation, some of it obviously the settling of old scores that are obscure.  To me, the most sober and helpful exchange, one that brings the lessons of history crisply into focus, is that between Chozen Roshi and the eldest daughter of Maezumi Roshi, Mimi. Their exchange is posted at  It started with Mimi's initial letter to Chozen, detailing how the open sexual atmosphere at Zen Center of Los Angeles in the 70's affected her family.  (In the most recent Genpo Roshi situation, Chozen was a prime mover behind the letter to Kanzeon's board from 44 Zen teachers, which together with the board's reply is posted at  Chozen then responds, and Mimi rejoins.  I recommend a reading of these exchanges as well as the letter from the 44 Zen teachers and Kanzeon's response.

If we are going to develop a healthy sangha at The Boulder Mountain Zendo along the lines that I wrote of in my Ameland Reflections, then we have to know our history and learn from it.  We cannot flinch when confronted with our lineage's past.


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