Has Eido Shimano Really Resigned?
By Al Tesshin Billings
There is apparently some questions circulating within the Zen teaching community about whether Eido Shimano has really resigned from his position at the Zen Studies Society, as the letter posted by Tricycle claims (which I posted about the other day), or if it is all just a kind of verbal bait and switch to distract people from the fact that nothing has changed.
The following is an excerpt from a note that I received tonight by someone in a position to ask and answer questions (from within the Zen Studies Society community). I’m not going to quote the whole thing as more information will apparently be forthcoming from the author and others.
...In fact, Eido Shimano has not resigned as Abbot. He has neither tendered his resignation to the Zen Studies Society Board of Directors nor has the Board of Directors accepted his resignation. Nor have the Directors dismissed him. There has been no “public” statement of the Abbot’s resignation, no press release; just a brief email to the current members of the Zen Studies Society mailing list and a curious notice on the ZSS website. From the ZSS website, September 9, 2010: Shinge Roshi Roko Sherry Chayat, who will be installed as Vice Abbot, Dec. 31, 2010, will offer dokusan from January 2011 on. Roshi will actively continue in his role as Abbot of the society until he retires, December 8, 2010, but he will not be seeing new students for dokusan. Eido Roshi has said he will remain committed to ordained and long-time students for as long as his health allows. [...] Obviously, he intends to see “ordained and long-time students as long as his health allows” under the sponsorship and umbrella of The Zen Studies Society. He will, presumably, keep his apartment in Dai Bosatsu Zendo, his suite at Shoboji, and will continue to receive substantial financial compensation from Zen Studies Society. A man without any spiritual standing will continue to have a significant presence and tremendous influence on the Society. [...] What Mr. Shimano has done is to offer a non-binding “promise” that he will resign in the future. He has made similar promises before, only to renege each and every time. Until his Abbacy is terminated by an irrevocable, binding resolution of the Board of Directors, or his immediately effective resignation, duly accepted and recorded in the organization’s minutes, Mr. Shimano not only remains the Zen Studies Society Abbot, but continues, together with his wife, Yasuko Shimano (Director of New York Zendo Shobo-ji), to control the process of his own removal. A close reading of the by-laws of The Society will reveal that Eido Shimano is still on the Board of Directors even if he made the gesture of “stepping down from the Board.”
I am saddened that this whole thing continues to be a source of suffering in the Zen community and leaves so many questions open. I don’t feel that I could simply say nothing, in good conscience, since I’ve been speaking about Eido Shimano and the controversy around him in previous posts.
Hopefully, a formal decision is made, recorded, and communicated to those affected by this and, eventually, the rest of the Zen community. These kinds of ongoing controversies damage the Dharma in the eyes of so many but pretending they aren’t happening also damages the Dharma and our commitment to truth and honesty.