Sunday, May 08, 2011

Dennis Merzel Decides He Is Too Important to Stop Teaching

If this were not so pathetic, it might be kind of funny (via the Salt Lake Tribune). Merzel gets caught with his penis in three female students who were not his wife (not simultaneously, of course) - but it wasn't about the sex, it was about his "feeling of isolation and loneliness as the teacher at the top of an organization" - and he says we will step down as a roshi, stop teaching, and seek help to heal the wounds in himself and to make amends for wounding others. He said all the right things (the letter is no longer available on his site).

Then he does the opposite.

He still is teaching and the sangha he ran - Kanzeon Zen Center - is selling its buildings because Merzel says the Center owes him money, lots of money:

Kanzeon, Merzel said, owes Big Mind about $165,000 and Merzel himself $200,000 to $300,000. Those debts would need to be repaid, he said, and the buildings purchased by any group wanting to continue the Zen center.

“I’ve asked the [Kanzeon] board to ask the community of people still with us what they want,” Merzel said. “It seems to me … that if they want those buildings, then they have to come up with the finances for it.”

One option, he said, is to rename Kanzeon “Big Heart Center” and focus it on Big Mind.

The really funny part is that he says the 66 Zen leaders who want him to abide by his word are making Buddhism look bad.

Merzel accused his critics of envy because of the success of his new way of teaching enlightenment, which he calls Big Mind.

“I’m not trying to justify my actions. I’m very remorseful. But this kind of judgmental mudslinging of Buddhist teachers is worse,” Merzel said. “It’s making Buddhism look pretty pathetic.”

Seriously? The person who looks pathetic here is Merzel - for claiming he slept with students because it's lonely being at the top (poor, poor rich man with a loving family that you betrayed - your life must suck with all that money and adulation), for issuing an apparently fake mia culpa, and for the bottom line with him always being about the money.

Merzel is just another whacked out guru who can't keep his penis out of his students - there's a lot of that in the integral community, so he might consider leaving Buddhism behind and just teaching Big Mind to the integral community - they love their sex addict teachers.


Liz said...

Testify, Bill!!

Anonymous said...

I am used to gaining knowledge and information at this site. This felt a little like gossip. Not the level of rigor I am used to here. No judgment just surprised.

Sage said...

What Liz said. I can't say it better...

Anonymous said...

No, Anonymous, gossip is when my girlfriends and I get together and discuss the hat Princess Beatrice wore to the royal wedding.

This post is informing the integral/zen community about a continuing, ongoing fraud hiding behind a psuedo-spiritual charlatan, and he should be exposed. The Integral leadership seems to be having an awfully difficult time figuring it out. They are unsure about what ethics are and why they should be employed. Teacher/student relationships appear to be exempt. And since no one has actually written down any specific rules, they can't be expected to figure it out on their own. Much like trying to reason with a child caught red-handed in a misdeed, "Well you never said I COULDN'T do it!"

This is the guy who distanced himself from Marc Gafni when Gafni was exposed as a sexual predator. Still not sure how to proceed, the Integral Life website has a flurry of articles and comments about sexual ethics with the end result being to sweep it under the carpet and in time, everyone will forget about it. Both Gafni and Merzel have done it before. The best part in the Tribune article is:

"Merzel said his affairs were 'not about sex,' but about his feeling of isolation and loneliness as the teacher at the top of the organization. "I'm working on the sexual thing, too,' he said"

Oh hahahhaha. Yeah, Dennis. Keep working on that "sexual thing". In time you will see how you are really the victim in all of this. As you said in the article, they are all just jealous of you and your success. Marc Gafni feels the same way. He is sure all those rabbis who turned their backs on him are jealous of him, too. In fact he claims he is the victim of "name-rape". (His actual wording!)

Ken Wilber has quite a track record of endorsing sexual deviants (won't bother with the list, you already know them) and it's not likely he will EVER admit to making a mistake. I remember one of the first Integral headings I ever read: Ken Wilber - The Einstein of Consciousness "I was wrong, but I'm still right". So much for leadership.

And please, Merzel/Gafni defenders, No. No I am not holding them to a higher standard (although they should be), I am holding them to the same standard to which I hold myself. To which I hold everyone because ethical behavior really isn't all that hard to figure out or understand. I know simple, common everyday men who can do it - don't you? And they aren't even claiming to be some enlightened zen master. These guys don't need guidelines prepared by a consensus of integralists, they need an 8 year old child to tell them the difference between right and wrong.

Jee-zus Christ!

NellaLou said...

Waiting now for the Terrible Torpedoes of Truth sort of tour. Not exactly winning.

Anonymous said...

When news of Genpo's affair first broke, many Zen practitioners were at pains to point out how we are all human and make mistakes, and we should forgive Genpo, while allowing that he needs help. I somewhat sympathized with them.

But then I became aware that this was part of a 30-year pattern of sexual harrassment of students, that another affair had happened two decades ago, ended his first marriage and resulted in the closing of another Zen Center, and that this time it was not one but three students Genpo was sleeping with, including a dharma heir (although I also heard that it may have been more than one last time, and that person is another dharma heir of his now as well).

Add to that the huge amounts of money he has been raking in with his Big Mind (TM) touring circus act, the three houses he owns (including one in Hawaii), and his charging people $10,000 for a week at a luxury resort with him several times a year.

Then top it off with the fact that he has just basically told 66 Zen teachers to go to hell because they are allegedly jealous of his success. Wtf?

Forgiveness, yes, but even so, actions have consequences. The man has clearly gone off the deep end and should quit teaching, period. And get some serious help, which includes following the advice laid out for him by the Zen teachers in their multiple letters.

shingetsu enmon said...

...all it takes is sitting, Dennis. Sit in the morning then go to the zendo in the evening and sit the evening period of zazen. If you do this then you can heal this stuff and help your children and friends and your self heal.

Most sorrow is for your children. Kanzeon cries for do others...