Eido Tai Shimano

Eido Tai Shimano
School Rinzai
Born 1932
Tokyo, Japan
Senior posting
Based in Zen Studies Society
New York Zendo Shobo-Ji
Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-Ji
Title Roshi
Predecessor Soen Nakagawa

Eido Tai Shimano (嶋野 栄道 Shimano Eidō, born 1932) is a Rinzai Zen Buddhist roshi. He was the founding abbot of the New York Zendo Shobo-Ji in Manhattan and Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-Ji monastery in the Catskill mountains of New York; he was forced to resign from that position after 40 years after revelations of a series of sexual relationships with and alleged sexual harassment of female students.[news 1]


Eido Shimano was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1932. His first encounter with a Buddhist scripture came at the age of nine, when his school teacher instructed his class to memorize the Heart Sutra.[1] During the war the Shimano family moved to Chichibu, the mountain city where his mother was born.[2]

In his youth Shimano was ordained as novice monk by Kengan Goto, the priest of Empuku-ji, the Rinzai temple in Chichibu. Kengan Goto gave him the Dharma name Eido, composed from first characters of two Japanese Zen founders, Eisai and Dogen.[3] Later he was trained by Shirozou Keizan Roshi, abbot of Heirin-ji, near Tokyo. This was a Rinzai training monastery with strict discipline.

In 1954, Shimano left to study at Ryutaki-ji and practice with Soen Nakagawa Roshi, a relatively young Zen teacher.[4] The following year Nyogen Senzaki visited the temple from America and left a lasting impression on Shimano.[5] In 1957, Soen Roshi asked Shimano to go to America for one year to attend the elderly Nyogen Senzaki. He agreed, but Nyogen died in 1958 before Shimano had a chance to go.[6]

Soen asked Shimano to go to Hawaii instead to help to guide the Diamond Sangha, founded by Robert Baker Aitken and his wife, Anne Hopkins Aitken. At first reluctant, Soen persuaded Shimano that going to Hawaii would be good for both his recuperation from an illness and his academic studies (suggesting he study at the University of Hawaii).[7]

On August, 1960 Shimano left for Hawaii by ship. His friend Dr. Bernard Phillips, an American Zen scholar, was returning home on the same ship, after doing research in Japan sponsored by the Zen Studies Society. Without any prior arrangements, they ended up in the same cabin.[7]

Shimano later returned to Japan and met Haku'un Yasutani, accompanying him and Soen back to the United States. In 1964, after a rift developed with Aitken,[8][9] he moved to New York City. In 1965, he became abbot of the Zen Studies Society, consisting of the New York Zendo Shobo-Ji in Manhattan and Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-Ji monastery in the Catskills mountains.[news 1]

Shimano claims to have received Dharma transmission from Soen Nakagawa in 1972,[10][11] but this has been contested.[web 1][web 2] In 2004, Eido Shimano Roshi received the Buddhism Transmission Award from the Japan-based Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai Foundation for his impact on the dissemination of Buddhism in the West.[12] This same organization produced a documentary on Eido Shimano Roshi and Dai Bosatsu Zendo Kongo-Ji.[web 3]


In July 2010, Eido and his wife had resigned from the ZSS Board of Directors after a relationship between Shimano and one of his female students became subject of controversy, amid accusations that this was only the latest in a series of affairs spanning several decades.[news 1][web 4][web 5] Shimano sent a letter of apology to the ZSS community in September, 2010, stating that he would retire as abbot of the Zen Studies Society in December.[web 6][web 4] He did so on December 8, 2010. Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat Roshi, who received dharma transmission in 1998, was installed as the new Abbot on January 1, 2011.[web 7][web 8]

In February, 2011, the Zen Studies Society announced that Eido Shimano no longer would teach Zen under the auspices of their organization.[web 4][lower-alpha 1][web 9][lower-alpha 2][lower-alpha 3] On July 2, 2011, an open meeting for all sangha members of the ZSS was held, where Shimano encouraged everyone to accept his successor, Shinge Sherry Chayat, as their teacher, and stated unequivocally that in order to avoid further controversy and division, he would no longer formally teach Zen in any capacity.[lower-alpha 4]

A committee of Zen teachers formed in November 2011 found that the sexual acts were often initiated during formal private sanzen interactions between Zen teacher and student.[news 2][web 10]

In December, 2012, Myoshinji, the headquarters of Shimano's claimed lineage sect, issued a public statement responding to the controversies surrounding Shimano and ZSS; they state they have

...no connection with Eidō Shimano, his activities or organizations, including Dai Bosatsu Zendo and all affiliated Zen Studies Society institutions, nor is Eidō Shimano or any of his successors certified as priests of the Myōshin-ji branch of Zen or recognized as qualified teachers."[web 1][web 11]

On January 31, 2013, the ZSS publicly announced that the Shimanos had filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Society on January 3, 2013. The Shimanos dropped their suit in December, 2015.

Dharma heirs


See also


  1. "If there are students who wish to continue to study with Eido, they may do so on their own but not under the auspices of ZSS."[web 4]
  2. "Eido Roshi wrote and sent an open letter expressing his apology to the Sangha."[web 9]
  3. ZSS Board of Directors, "An update from the Board of Directors", February 5, 2011: "On December 8th 2010, Eido Shimano Roshi retired from his position as Abbot of The Zen Studies Society, and on December 11, 2010, Aiho-san Yasuko Shimano retired from her position as Director of New York Zendo Shobo-ji. They retired openly and without reservation from all administrative authority. Eido Roshi is not teaching under the auspices of The Zen Studies Society."
  4. Transcript of July 2 announcement: "I have retired, but some of you may think, “Are there any exceptions?” No. I will stop doing dokusan and giving teisho in a formal way."


Book references

  1. Senzaki 1976, p. 166.
  2. Senzaki 1976, p. 170.
  3. Senzaki 1976, p. 170-171.
  4. Senzaki 1976, p. 171.
  5. Senzaki 1976, p. 172-173.
  6. Senzaki 1976, p. 176-177.
  7. 1 2 Senzaki 1976, p. 180.
  8. Smith 2004, p. 298–99.
  9. Tworkov 1989, p. 189.
  10. Ford 2006, p. 113-115.
  11. Prebish 1999, p. 11.
  12. Zen Studies Society Newsletter, 2004, p. 22

News references

  1. 1 2 3 Oppenheimer, Mark (August 20, 2010). "Sex Scandal Has American Buddhists Looking Within". New York Times. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
  2. Adam Tebbe (2013-02-16). "Joshu Sasaki and the Challenge of Sex Scandals in the Zen Community". The Huffington Post.quote: The sexual encounters were often initiated in the sanzen room. Sanzen is a ritualized private meeting between a Zen student and Zen teacher."

Web references

  1. 1 2 "About Myoshinji Temple". Myoshinji Temple. Archived from the original on January 13, 2013.
  2. "Dharma Transmission by Genjo Joe Marinello". Sweeping Zen. October 23, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
  3. "The Buddhist Way of Life". DharmaNet International. Retrieved August 22, 2008.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Faith Trust Institute recommendations". zenstudies.org. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  5. "Statement from Zen Studies Society". Tricycle. Archived from the original on January 4, 2011. Retrieved 2010-07-21.
  6. "A message from Eido Shimano". Tricycle. Archived from the original on January 4, 2011. Retrieved 2010-09-08.
  7. "The Zen Studies Society". zenstudies.org. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  8. "Letter from Board of Directors" (PDF). zenstudies.org. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  9. 1 2 "Letter from Board of Directors" (PDF). zenstudies.org. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  10. Sweeping Zen, Myoshin-ji announces "No connection with Eido Shimano or Zen Studies Society"


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