Eido Tai Shimano
Monday 23 August 2010
Eido Tai Shimano (born 1932) is a Rinzai roshi, and the first to establish a Rinzai lineage in the United States. Shimano has named five American Dharma heirs to date. Of these five heirs, only Sherry Chayat and Genjo Marinello remain closely associated with the Zen Studies Society.
Eido Shimano was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1932. In his youth he studied Rinzai Zen under two masters, Kengan Goto and Shirouzu Keizan. Kengan Goto ordained him as an unsui as a young man and gave him his Dharma name, Eido. He trained at Heiren-ji for two years with Shirouzu Keizan and then began his studies under Soen Nakagawa at Ryutaku-ji. While at Ryutaku-ji, lay zen master Nyogen Senzaki visited the temple from America and left a lasting impression on Shimano.
In 1960 Shimano was sent to Honolulu, Hawaii to help at the Diamond Sangha founded by Nakagawa students Robert Baker Aitken and his wife, Anne Hopkins Aitken. Shimano later returned to Japan and met Haku’un Yasutani, accompanying him and Nakagawa back to the United States. In 1964, after a rift developed with Aitken, he moved to New York. In 1965, he became the abbot of Zen Studies Society with a Manhattan headquarters and a monastery in the Catskills.
In 1972 he received Dharma transmission from Soen Nakagawa, and is abbot of the Zen Studies Society, which consists of the New York Zendo Shobo-Ji and Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-Ji monastery. In 2004 Eido Shimano Roshi received the Buddhism Transmission Award from the Japan-based Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai Foundation given to individuals who have made a significant impact on the dissemination of Buddhism in the West; this same organization produced a two part TV documentary on Eido Shimano Roshi and Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-Ji.
Shimano has been the subject of allegations of sexual and financial improprieties. In 1964, while living in Hawaii with Robert Aitken, there were allegations of sexual and financial misconduct, which led to a rift with Aitken. In New York, in 1975, 1979 and 1982 Shimano was accused of sexually exploiting emotionally vulnerable female students, as well as financial mismanagement; he denied the allegations. The accusations resulted in controversy and the departure of students and monks from the Zen Studies Society. In July 2010 Eido Shimano and his wife resigned from the ZSS board of directors when a " recent inappropriate relationship" between Shimano and a female student was disclosed. It was announced that Shimano will retire in April 2012, and in the interim will no longer take new students.
Read also on Buddhachannel:
Sex Scandal Has U.S. Buddhists Looking Within
Sex and the Sangha: Zen Studies Society Statement
Zen Studies Society