‘Zen Has No Morals’ – The Cases of Eido T. Shimano (USA), and Dr. Klaus Zernickow (Germany)

Christopher Hamacher (Germany, Munich) presented an academic paper on 7 July 2012 at the International Cultic Studies Association’s (ICSA) annual conference in Montreal, Canada. His paper has been uploaded to The Zen Site and it covers the cases of Eido T. Shimano in the USA, and Dr. Klaus Zernickow (Sotetsu Yuzen) in Berlin, Germany.

  • Zen Has No Morals!” – The Latent Potential for Corruption and Abuse in Zen Buddhism, as Exemplified by Two Recent Cases by Christopher Hamacher [PDF from The Zen Site]
Dr. Klaus Zernickow (a.k.a Sotetsu Yuzen, left) and Eido T. Shimano

Dr. Klaus Zernickow and a media lawyer office were able to get removed an anonymous post about his activities on my German blog on Buddhist “cults”. I am happy that there is now an academic paper which offers some background information allowing people to make an informed decision before they commit themselves to Zernickow’s group Mumon Kai.

There is a very useful post on Smiling Buddha Cabaret, that picks up Hamacher’s paper and digs even deeper:

The blogger adds a few more potential causes or contributing factors to Hamacher’s list, like:

j) Lack of cross-cultural or cross-class understanding. Where a leader is of a different culture or class than the majority of students there is a lack of knowledge of what is and isn’t appropriate for the leader to be doing. Leaders exploit that ignorance and use their “special” knowledge to their advantage. One can also note this when sangha leaders are in the psychological counseling profession occasionally as well.

The blog discusses also examples of fallacies in reasoning that block discriminating intelligence, e.g.

  • False Contingency: from a small sample to a large conclusion. “He’s always been truthful with me, therefore he is not a liar.”,
  • False Dilemma: only 2 choices allowed. “You either agree with the rest of the sangha or you’re not a sincere Buddhist.”, “If he doesn’t agree with the teacher he must be mentally ill.”

Christopher Hamacher—who wrote the paper “Zen Has No Morals!”—graduated in law from the Université de Montréal in 1994. He has practiced Zen Buddhism in Japan, America and Europe since 1999 and run his own Zen meditation group since 2006. He currently works as a legal translator in Munich, Germany.

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Updates 2022

Last edited by tenpel on Oct 10, 2022