On November 2, Eido Shimano, age 83, issued a letter to the Zen Studies Society sangha, addressing that community’s need for healing in the wake of Shimano’s reported misconduct, as documented in Mark Oppenheimer’s The Zen Predator of the Upper East Side. (See also, on Lion’s Roar: “Zen teachers issue open letter confronting abuse’; and “Confronting Abuse of Power.”) His letter reads, in part:
I would like to meet with you face-to-face on Saturday, November 21, to speak openly from the heart. I know that many of you discontinued your practice at the Zen Studies Society, but I hope you will participate in the meeting […] My wish is to express my ignorance and sincere regret for hurting the hearts of the Sangha. It is my hope that through this face-to-face meeting, our heavy burden can be laid to rest, for you and for us all.
This was followed today by a message issued from the Zen Studies Society, signed by its abbot, Shinge Roshi:
Dear Sangha and Dharma Friends,
As many of you are aware, Eido Roshi wrote a letter to our Zen community wishing to create an opportunity to speak from the heart and to offer his sincere regret.
This meeting is an important step toward the possibility of healing for those who have experienced harm and for the community as a whole.
Recognizing the sensitivity of the issues, the need for candor, and the need for creating an emotionally safe environment to have these conversations, the Zen Studies Society has engaged a professional facilitator for the meeting, Christine Hickey, who has taught mediation and conflict resolution for 10 years at Syracuse University College of Law, and has given seminars for a variety of professional organizations in the area of conflict resolution and associated topics. Chris is not a member of the Zen Studies Society or a student of Zen Buddhism, and has no connection to either Eido Roshi or to any current or former members, other than being invited to participate as a facilitator.
You will have an opportunity to speak to Eido Roshi in the presence of supportive friends and members.
Eido Roshi will also have opportunities to express his thoughts and feelings both by way of addressing the topic and in response to those who attend.
Chris will help everyone listen deeply to one another by paraphrasing or clarifying when necessary, and by maintaining a respectful structure throughout the afternoon.
You are invited to participate to the extent that you are comfortable. You may wish to attend and simply listen and witness the conversations, or you may wish to speak.
Chris has kindly offered to speak with you before the meeting to answer questions about the process, to help you identify and articulate the key points that you may wish to share at the meeting, and to discuss your fears, hesitations, perceptions, anger, and other emotions. I strongly encourage you to contact Chris soon by email or phone if you are thinking about or planning to attend the meeting. Your conversations with her will be entirely confidential. Speaking with her beforehand will help increase the chances for healing and closure. Chris may be contacted at [email protected] or 315-422-9756. She is looking forward to hearing from you.
This meeting is scheduled for Saturday, November 21, 2015, from 2:00 to 5:00 pm at All Souls Unitarian Church, 1157 Lexington Avenue (at 80th St.), New York City.