Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

More E-sangha Thought Control

Zen teacher Jundo Cohen has just mentioned on his blog and videocast that he has been banned from E-angha. (E-sangha is a well known (or notorious) Buddhist web forum that I’ve blogged about before…)


Why did Jundo Sensei get banned from E-sangha? Well, he stated in this thread concerning the beliefs of:

"the vast majority of Soto Zen Buddhist teachers in the West! Namely, (1) traditional ideas of rebirth and reincarnation are not to be taken literally in this modern age; and (2) Shakyamuni Buddha was a man, not a god or super-human being, and though enlightened ... was a human being like the rest of us."

On the thread on E-sangha in question, he actually states, after much back and forth with people leading up to this:

"But, in fact, the non-literalist views I am expressing on Reincarnation represent, I believe, the generally dominant view among Zen teachers in the West right now. The reason is not that we have lost the direct line to Buddha's brain that you'all so evidently possess. The reason is, quite simply, that we no longer live in an age of superstition and hocus-pocus. I do not believe in a magical view of Reincarnation for much the same reason that I do not believe in flying dragons, the tooth fairy, genies, Qilin (a kind a giraffe with fish scales and wings) and such. We do not believe that earthquakes are caused by giant catfish under the earth, or that stomach aches are due to ghost possession, and other things that the same primitive folks (who wrote the Sutras) believed in. Now, we know a little better (although, granted, we have our own modern myths and superstitions). "

Please go read Jundo’s blog entry and watch his video though (along with reading the thread if you can). I’ve mentioned Jundo before as one of the Buddhist teachers attempting to use new media and technologies for teaching. He’s committed to sitting online every day for nine years and working with people without a sangha of their own.

As I’ve detailed before, E-sangha has a bit of a control freak mentality when it comes to “proper” Buddhism as well as a completely authoritarian moderation structure that brooks no dissent or questioning of how the forum is run. If you question moderator decisions, espouse “improper” Buddhist views, or are from an organization that the moderators do not like, you will be banned. Jundo actually made the unforgivable error, in addition to his heresy, of posting a moderator threat to him in public and pointing out that he was a Soto Zen priest on a Soto Zen forum on the site, while the person threatening him wasn’t even a Zen practitioner. The fact that they banned a Zen teacher, one who was trained and recognized by Nishijima Roshi, for pointing out that most Zen teachers in America don’t take reincarnation literally or that they think of the Buddha as a man, not a god, is just an indicator of how bankrupt the forum is as a site for Buddhists.

The Open Buddha site that I started hasn’t really taken off. This isn’t really surprising as it is hard to build community and the reason that I hear, over and over again, about why people hunker down and put up with the bullshit policies on E-sangha is because that is the one place where you can actually find a critical mass of people. I think it is time for people to really re-think this decision.

Update: After more than 100 comments, comments on this thread are closed. They are generating a little too much in terms of argument and abuse and little actual insight. Thanks.