For 40 years virtually all of the Zen Buddhist teachers in USA publicly supported Eido Shimano, when they knew of this Buddhist teachers abuse. He was abusing his students sexually, mentally and physically on a large scale for 40 years. (For more on this see here.) Why is this? Here are some answers that make sense to us.
Communities Collude with Abusers Supportive loyalty for an ‘abusive’ leader is a very common theme in all walks of life. We have seen it in Buddhist monasteries, the Catholic church, in the world of psychotherapy, in families and in society in general throughout history. It seems this issue is not of one area of life, but one of humanity itself. It isn’t just a East versus West cultural problem.
Psychologists have found some answers:
We Obey The Milgram experiments begun at Yale in 1961, tried to understand Nazi atrocities in concentration camps. Ordinary Germans followed orders and committed or colluded with atrocities. Shockingly the research showed that 95% of the USA population will seriously hurt someone if they are told to twice by someone in charge.
Our Childhood Is Who We Are Psychology has also found that our relationship with our parents and family when we are infants and young children is what predominantly forms our relationships as adults. If a spiritual community is formed with an authority figure, then that community will take on the dynamics of a family. The authority figure will take on the role of mum or dad, and the members of the community will take on the role of small children. The chances of those in the community playing out their childhoods on each other are very high. If the community members have no knowledge or willingness to open to family dynamics or their own and each other’s childhoods, then they will unconsciously act out of their childhoods. In family dynamics, small children have overwhelming loyalty to the parent, and the parent is seen by the child as perfect, and incapable of doing wrong. Therefore the child obeys, keeps quiet, feels they have to put up with it and blames themselves, “It’s not mum or dad’s fault so it must be me. I’m the bad person”. And older siblings act out parental behaviour and their own pain and rage on their younger siblings.
The Horrific Truth of Historic Child Abuse. The truth of this is far worse than I imagined. Please read this essay by eminent expert Lloyd Demause. i suggest that you do not eat while reading. Everything else on this page is a commentary on this.
We Were Told to Hide World War Trauma Then we have the legacy of history. In recent history this includes the two world wars. The horror and scale of man’s inhumanity to man and the effect on the psyche of a whole generation was never dealt with afterwards, except that governments told the public that trauma was not to be shown in public, but instead hidden inside. This meant the only outlet possible for the horror was in the privacy of the home.
War In The Home Dr. Barnado’s research states that 60% of children in UK see violence in the home. Adult retrospective studies show that as many 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006). Some studies suggest these figures to be conservative. Nearly all sexual abuse is within the child’s circle of family and friends. All severe child abuse in our experience has been perpetrated by the father and/or close relatives. See:
There is research to show that for people seeking alternative medical treatment or spiritual help the figures will be far higher.
Put all this together and we begin to see what’s going on. If early childhood issues are not opened to and allowed out, then no way is any letting go of ‘Me’ at any deep or core place going to happen. By not looking at our childhood emotions, we will be acting out of them, and obeying in fear.
We Act Out What Happened To Us As Children in order to try and find resolution, to tell our story.
The child inside is saying:
“This is my world, this is what my child inside is experiencing right now. Is anybody listening? Please listen”
The sub-conscious story we re-enact on those around us is ALWAYS consciously experienced as here and now, even though it is actually about there and then. So we re-enact our childhoods on those around us. If not in public, then in private, in the home, on our partners.
If our childhoods were dysfunctional, abusive or violent, then in some way we will play this out as adults.
We Tell The Story The person ‘abusing their power’ in a Buddhist community is just one small cog in the playing out of what happened in childhood. Everyone else in that community is as equally and powerfully playing out their childhood.
For example, it is vital to the ‘abused’ person’s subconscious that the ‘abuser’ continues to ‘abuse’. So the ‘abuser’ is being manipulated by the ‘abused’ to continue the ‘abuse’.
Keeping It Private In virtually all families the often unspoken rule is to not talk outside the home about what is happening at home. Children are taught primarily that they are powerless and must obey and be loyal, so that is what they do. And if a child tries to tell an adult outside the family what is happening, they are almost always ignored or not taken seriously. After all, the adults they go to will have been taught the same rule – keep it in the family.
The Zen Debacle This explains for us why the USA Zen teaching community kept quiet about a Buddhist teachers abuse (of which a part was sexual) that for 40 years they knew was being carried out openly by Eido at Zen Studies Society in New York. (see http://www.shimanoarchive.com).
And there is more:
Zen Teachers Reveal Themselves to be Frightened Children By keeping quiet in the face of a blatant abuser, virtually every top Zen teacher in USA revealed themselves for who they really believe themselves to be – frightened children sub-consciously acting out their story.
How many zen teachers of USA have even mentioned this fact? How many have owned up and admit this? Only one that we could find in 6 months searching.
What this stark reality says is that the Zen teachers of America are struggling to start what we call beginners compassion class, which is learning to love children inside.
Buddhist Practice Itself Has a Seriously Flaw We have described the path of mindfulness that includes the inner child here. Any practice that does not address the child inside as a principle teaching is going to get absolutely nowhere in working out who we really are and learning love, compassion and wisdom.
Yet in the whole history of Buddhism there is no mention of the inner child. Only in the last few years has one Buddhist teacher we know addressed this. Not one as yet has written about it in any depth that we are aware of. It is as if the whole of Buddhism has no deep knowledge of the importance of our childhood in forming who we are. Even though psychologists have been exploring this and saying so for 100 years. We are all acting out of our childhoods.
If I am in denial and dishonest to myself about where I’m really acting from, then I can teach nothing other than denial and dishonesty. The blind leading the blind!
Beginners Compassion Class If I am so frightened of children that I have to lock them away inside, if I am unable to start loving a child, then I’m struggling in beginners compassion class. Unless one lets into the light of awareness the sub-conscious children inside, and lets them be here fully, one is not going to let go of the ego any time soon. Yet the whole Buddhist tradition says nothing about this. Not a word. For 2000 years. 2000 years of repression.. of no love.
A Truth about Enlightenment You can’t go out sideways, get an opening and expect anything to change in who you think you are. Yet this is the way mindfulness has often mistakenly been taught. To let go in any meaningful way of who you think you are you have to go DOWN. Into who you were taught to be. And keep going down, until you meet the infant core. Then you can let go of who you think you are and find who you really are.
For more on this see here.