Search Results: sasaki

Joshu Sasaki Roshi dead at 107

jsrFrom Myoren Yasukawa and Gento Krieger of Rinzai-Ji Zen Center, the home temple of Joshu Sasaki Roshi, comes this message:

It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that Joshu Sasaki Roshi passed away at 4:25 p.m. [Sunday] afternoon at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. We will update you soon with funeral arrangements.

Born in Japan in 1907, Sasaki would study and practice Zen Buddhism there until he left for America in 1962. In 1963 the Rinzai Zen Dojo Association, of which he was a founding member, was formed. This would soon become known as Rinzai-ji, Inc., and its first property, Cimarron Zen Center in Los Angeles, would become known as Rinzai-ji. Mount Baldy Zen Center in Los Angeles, where most of Rinzai-ji’s students have done their training, would form in 1970 and become Sasaki Roshi’s home.

In recent years, the Rinzai-ji community was fractured by numerous allegations toward Sasaki of sexual impropriety. Buddhadharma‘s coverage of these, as well as other items from Sasaki’s life, can be found here.

Click here to read Rinzai-Ji’s full biography of Sasaki Roshi.

Eshin Godfrey named new abbot of Rinzai-Ji; Sasaki stepping down

Eshin John Godfrey

Joshu Sasaki Roshi, the 106-year-old abbot of Rinzai-Ji, will be leaving his post this summer, Sweeping Zen reports, and Eshin John Godfrey of the Vancouver Zen Center has been chosen to replace him. Gento Steve Krieger and Ginsei Ginger Calloway have also been named as vice-abbots, and all three will assume their new roles when Sasaki steps down on July 21.

In addition to serving as abbot, Godfrey will also continue his role as a member of Rinzai-Ji’s Transitional Leadership Team. Read More »

New York Times explores abuse allegations against Sasaki Roshi

An article in today’s New York Times outlines the recent allegations of sexual abuse leveled at Zen teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi, the abbot of Rinzai-ji. Sasaki, who is no longer teaching, is accused of sexual misconduct with dozens of female students over several decades. In the Times article, seven women explain that the culture of Rinzai-ji encouraged them to believe that Sasaki’s groping was part of their Zen training, and made it difficult to speak out against him. Read More »

Updated: Rinzai-ji oshos’ open letter regarding Sasaki roshi responds to sexual misconduct allegations, acknowledges misconduct

In response to allegations of sexual misconduct leveled at Rinzai-ji senior teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi, Rinzai-ji oshos have issued a statement announcing that Sasaki is no longer teaching. The sangha is creating policies to address other complaints of misconduct, and to try to prevent other abuses from happening in the future.

“Sadly, we cannot deny these accusations. This issue has been a sore on the body of our Sangha for decades, and we are eager and relieved to finally open it to the light of day,” the letter reads in part. “The Rinzai-ji community of practitioners has struggled with our teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi’s sexual misconduct for a significant portion of his career in the United States. Senior members of our community have made several earnest and serious attempts over the years to correct this problem. Ultimately, these attempts failed.”

(Update: The Independent Witness Council, which was organized by Rinzai-ji to investigate complaints about Sasaki, also issued reports of its findings on Friday.
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Updated: Rinzai-Ji responds to allegations of sexual misconduct by Joshu Sasaki; community meeting announced

Following on last week’s news of  a gathering among the board of directors of Rinzai-Ji to address allegations of sexual conduct by Joshu Sasaki Roshi, Adam Tebbe of Sweeping Zen (the Tebbe-run website that has been instrumental in creating discussion in the matter) reports:

“Yesterday (11/30/2012), Kogan Seiju Bob Mammoser, Osho (of the Albuquerque Zen Center) sent out a letter addressed ‘To whom it may concern,’ on behalf of Rinzai-ji Oshos. It is unclear what role the Board of Directors, the body in charge of governance at Rinzai-ji, will now have in the direction being taken. According to Seiju’s letter, representatives of the Board (not the Board itself) will be invited to participate.” Update: Buddhadharma News has received a copy of the letter. It reads, in full: Read More »

Joshu Sasaki Roshi at 105

The Los Angeles Times has a profile of Rinzai Zen master Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi, abbot of Mount Baldy Zen Center in Mount Baldy, California, and founder of Bodhi Mandala Zen Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the age of 105, Roshi still has a busy teaching schedule, and he tells his students he’ll live to 120.

Michael Haederle wrote about Roshi at age 101 for the Shambhala Sun‘s January 2009 issue, which also featured an excerpt from one of Roshi’s books, True Love, Ultimate Zero. Roshi also graced the cover of Shambhala Sun‘s September 1998 issue with his student Leonard Cohen, in a photo by Don Farber (pictured).

Story of Sokei-an and Ruth Fuller Sasaki to get Kickstarter boost

Archivist and author Janica Anderson is currently writing a biography on Ruth Fuller Everett Sasaki and Sokei-an Sasaki, an endeavor that’s taken her a good decade to research and write; she also hopes for a feature film to accompany it. She’s started a Kickstarter campaign to find sources of funding, an approach that has proven successful for many other writers and filmmakers.

Sokei-an was a Rinzai Zen teacher from Japan, and Ruth was an American aristocrat who later married Sokei-an. Janica is an archivist of spoken audio recordings, with 13 archives under her care (the largest of which is the Esalen Institute archive). She is also seeking funds to digitize the archives (separate from the current campaign). See Read More »

Rinzai-ji community issues response to reports of misconduct

From Rev. Eshin Godfrey, the new abbot of the Rinzai-ji community, comes this formal statement:

“The Rinzai-ji community is addressing reports of sexual misconduct involving its teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi, made public over the past few months through various media. [See Buddhadharma News' ongoing coverage here.]

“Members of the Rinzai-ji community met twice, with the assistance of outside professionals, at Mt. Baldy Zen Center (in January and March this year) to discuss how best to respond to these reports and other organizational concerns. With ongoing outside consultation, these members decided upon the following steps:  Read More »

“Getting a Handle on Scandal” at this year’s Buddhist Geeks

The third annual Buddhist Geeks conference is coming on August 16–18 in Boulder, and this year’s conference features a discussion on scandals in the Buddhist world.

Facilitated by Diane Musho Hamilton, with panelists Shinzen Young, Sofia Diaz, Kenneth Folk, and Michael Zimmerman, this discussion will use the recent allegations of sexual abuse leveled against Joshu Sasaki Roshi not only as a jumping-off point for identifying the contributing factors that make scandals more probable, but  also to help illuminate potential ways to work with this complex territory of sexuality and spirituality. You can read more about the discussion here. Read More »

SFZC abbot outlines policies for sexual misconduct

In response to concerns from Zen practitioners about the possibility of abuse by teachers, San Francisco Zen Center abbot Steve Stücky has issued a statement outlining the center’s policies for handling sexual misconduct from teachers.

Stücky issued the statement in response to an article about Joshu Sasaki Roshi, abbot of Rinzai-Ji in Los Angeles, who was removed from his teaching position earlier this year in repsonse to allegations that he had been sexually harassing students for decades.

“We need to focus on emphasizing our clear ethical standards to prevent such abuses by any of us, and refresh our understanding of the serious harm that can be caused by sexual misconduct,” Stücky said. Read More »

Rinzai-ji oshos, board of directors discuss allegations of sexual abuse

Rinzai-ji oshos, sangha representatives, and board of directors convened this past weekend to discuss allegations of sexual abuse that were recently leveled at their roshi, Joshu Sasaki. At the meeting, they agreed to create a method through which other people with grievances and concerns about abuse can come forward. A “statement of response” from the oshos is scheduled to be released by tomorrow, January 11. Read More »

Rinzai-ji board of directors meets to discuss allegations of misconduct

As per a new report from, the board of directors of Rinzai-ji Zen Center in Los Angeles has “convened for a meeting this weekend to discuss allegations of sexual abuse by their teacher, Joshu Sasaki Roshi. In a statement that appeared today at the Rinzai-ji website, the organization writes:

‘Recently the Board of Directors of Rinzai-ji has become aware of allegations posted on websites of sexual misconduct by Joshu Sasaki Roshi, the Abbott of Rinzai-ji. The Board takes allegations of inappropriateness regarding any Rinzai-ji teacher’s behavior very seriously.
Read More »

Mt. Baldy Zen Center announces remodel, asks for donations

Photo: linsuhill via Flickr, CC-BY license

Mt. Baldy Zen Center, the remote Rinzai Zen training center founded by the centenarian Joshu Sasaki Roshi in the San Gabriel Mountains of the Angeles National Forest region, would like to remodel their zendo and are asking for donations. In a blog post on the center’s website on June 6, they put out the following request:

“Please help us preserve the zendo as a tribute to all that Roshi has done, and continues to do, for his thousands of monks, nuns and students worldwide. Read More »