Dogen Sangha Blog


Japanese / German

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ven J.M.Cohen's proposal

Dear all members of Dogen Sangha International,

Recently I received the following proposal from Ven J.M.Cohen. But I think that the authority of Buddhist organization has been governed by traditional method since Gautama Buddha's generation, and so even in the age of 21st Century it is impossible for me to decide such a kind of traditional position relying upon members' voting. Therefore I am very sorry, but I can not agree with Ven J.M.Cohen's democratic meathod of selecting leader of Dogen Sangha International unfortunately. I think that this point is very important for maintenance of Buddhist tradition, and so I like to proclaim my own opinion rather formally. Thank you very much for your understanding.

Gudo Wafu Nishijima

Dear Roshi,

I look forward to seeing you tomorrow (Friday) at 1pm.

Roshi, I would like to make a formal motion and proposal for your approval regarding your recent announcement regarding Dogen Sangha International.

The title of the position that Brad will take will be changed from "Leader" to "Head Helper".

The reason is that, in a modern democratic organization, we are a union or federation of your Dharma Heirs, brothers and sisters, who must help each other. This is in keeping with the Precepts and the cooperative nature of a Sangha. It is not appropriate (and several members, including myself, do not wish to belong to) any organization that has a "Leader" after you. So, the title "Leader" is fitting, perhaps, to a feudal, Japanese organization, but is not appropriate to the modern, Western Sangha you wish to leave. The duties of the "Head Helper" would not be to "lead" the organization, but to work for out mutual cooperation and to be, not a leader or commander, but the first to offer aid to all others as a brother among brothers.

Furthermore, the "Head Helper" would commit to always act with the dignity of the Sangha, you and his brothers and sisters in mind in his or her conduct.

As a second motion, I would also propose that there be a term limit of 5 years on "Head Helper", at which time other members of the Sangha can be proposed to be "Head Helper" elected by majority vote.

Please consider these idea appropriate for modern democratic societies of the 21st century.

Please indicate your approval by changing your message on your Dogen Sangha blog accordingly.

Gassho, Jundo


Blogger Smoggyrob said...

Mr. Cohen:

I don't know if you intended your letter to be made public, but here we are. Please pardon my intrusion, but DSI is important to me and so I feel compelled. So you know, I'm one of Brad's students.

I don't know you, so to learn a little I checked out Your website is beautiful, it's amazing! Your openness to people online is a great example. You've moved your practice online so seamlessly it seems effortless. I really love what you're doing with your group.

I find it difficult to imagine a future DSI without you. You bring a lot to the table. If all you did was to redo the DSI website to be like what you're doing with Treeleaf, that alone would be an immense contribution. I'd rather imagine a future where your ideas continue to make DSI better.

Despite your initial reaction, I think a conversation with Brad would set to rest most of your worries about him. Except the dignity of the Sangha part.



P. S. to Warner Roshi: @#$% off, I'll write whatever I want to.

4:34 PM, July 12, 2007  
Blogger jundo cohen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:55 AM, July 13, 2007  
Blogger Lone Wolf said...

It is my understanding that all teachers, within the various Buddhist traditions, choose a successor to lead the Sangha into the future. Shunryu Suzuki carried out this tradition as well as others. I don't see why it need be changed.

Just my thoughts!

12:54 PM, July 13, 2007  
Blogger jundo cohen said...

Dear All,

Just a note to say that I saw Roshi today, we sat Zazen together, and agreed to leave the situation ambiguous (I think ... because it was so ambiguous!)

That is how problems are resolved in Buddhism, I think.

Roshi's sitting will appear on the Zazen netcast in the next day or so.

Gassho, Jundo

4:16 PM, July 13, 2007  
Blogger Gregor said...

Great, I'm looking forward to sitting with you both on the netcast.



6:26 PM, July 13, 2007  
Blogger said...

Thank you all for being so open about this process. It is very moving--to see the great care and concern shown and to be kept abreast of this process of 'finding our way.'
Dogen Sangha International is in good hands--all of them!

gassho to all teachers: past, present and future


2:48 PM, July 14, 2007  
Blogger said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:48 PM, July 14, 2007  
Blogger Harry said...


I drop into the Treeleaf Zendo, and hold Jundo and his teachings in very high regard.

Maybe there is a good argument for a complicated network, or outright organisation, of diverse Zendos with a 'leader' and all that.

Me, I'm just glad that this diversity in Zendos/teachings exists at all and that I happened to chance upon the Treeleaf Zendo website. May we always celebrate our diversity, and remember our connections.



12:23 AM, July 15, 2007  
Blogger Brad Warner said...

Nishijima Sensei, thank you. It is an honor to be named as your successor. As you know, it took me a great deal of time to decide to accept this honor. So, although this announcement may seem to be sudden to the people reading this blog, this is really just the end of a very long process. And the beginning of an even longer one.

In Zen there is a long tradition of teachers naming their successors. While I have been aware of this tradition since the early days of my study and practice, I never expected to be named as anyone's successor. I don't know if I'm worthy of the honor or not. But you have made your decision, so I need to perform my role as best I can.

I feel you have given all of us in Dogen Sangha a tremendous and very difficult duty, to try to spread the teachings of Master Dogen throughout the world. If we only fulfill that single duty it will be enough.

To everyone in DSI, yoroshiku onegai shimasu.

2:17 AM, July 17, 2007  

Post a Comment

<< Home