[Buddha-l] Oops--Article is from NY Times

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Sun Aug 22 17:58:26 MDT 2010

Hi Piya,

Nice to see you posting again.

> Don't you think the term "sangha" should be reserved for a celibate
> community (as it has historically has been).

Not my decision. They consider themselves, and are considered by others as 
clerics by virtue of criteria other than celibacy.

> As we know none of the the Zen priests technically celibate. By 1872
> nikujiki saitai law, all Budhdist priests were "free" to marry, drink, and
> only need to wear their robes when performing ceremonies.

The abandoning of celibacy by Japanese Buddhist clerics starts almost a 
thousand years earlier. Pure Land, etc., made that move decisive a long time 
ago, and doctrinally it drew on the mappo (Age of Decadent Dharma) theory 
that was all the apocalyptic rage back then.

Today it is not just Japanese clerics who marry -- a sizeable portion of the 
Korean clergy (due to influence during Japanese occupation) also marries. 
Some Tibetans as well. And so on. I will leave it to others to argue as to 
the bone fides of non-celibate clerics.

But celibacy is not the actual issue at hand here -- it is sexual 
misbehavior, esp. with disciples. If a Zen priest is married, then this is 
not only molestation and abuse, but adultery as well. One could argue that 
is twice as bad.

Note that while the article -- and much Western discussion -- tends to focus 
on Zen, probably due to its prominence and popularity in the West, such 
misbehavior is far from exclusively a Zen problem, either in Asia or the 
West. Nor is it exclusively a Buddhist problem (Hindu gurus also have their 
scandals and abuse).

Such teachers are viewed as "special" by their followers, and thus are in a 
ripe position to exploit the trust, reverence and adulation bestowed upon 
them, a bestowal encouraged by the tradition and by fellow disciples who 
reinforce each others' adulatory tendencies.

There are also some well known Theravadin cases in recent decades ... but in 
the interest of correct speech let's forgo naming names and recounting the 
seedy details. Confrontations between governing authorities and the 
perpetrators are often slow to develop -- if at all -- and the penalties are 
rarely severe. Do you disagree?


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