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The Zen Predator of the Upper East Side (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Mark Oppenheimer , The Atlantic Books
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99

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Book Description

A powerful story of secrets and sexual exploitation perpetrated under the guise of religion—a cautionary tale of the dark side of Zen in America.

Nearly 50 years ago, a Zen Buddhist monk—fleeing a cloud of suspicion—arrived in Manhattan, penniless and alone. Eido Shimano would quickly build an unrivaled community of followers: Zen students he culled from the heights of New York society to form arguably the most prestigious Japanese Buddhist organization in the country. Authors, entertainers, and scions of vast fortunes, all questing for spiritual enlightenment, flocked to study and live in his spacious compound. But always there were whispers that things were not what they seemed.

With sexual-abuse allegations against Zen leaders in the U.S. now stunningly common, The Zen Predator of the Upper East Side examines a dangerously complicated corner of the tradition—and shows how aspects of Buddhist practice may actually facilitate abuse. Featuring exclusive reporting and interviews, the book is a powerful true story of secrets and sexual exploitation perpetrated under the guise of religion—and a cautionary tale of the dark side of Zen in America.

An essayist, reporter, and critic, Mark Oppenheimer is one of the country’s leading investigators of religion. He writes a religion column for The New York Times and also writes for The New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, Slate, The Forward, and Tablet, among other publications. Oppenheimer has a doctorate in American religious history and directs the Yale Journalism Initiative. The author of three previous books, he lives with his family in New Haven, Connecticut.

Product Details

  • File Size: 387 KB
  • Print Length: 67 pages
  • Publisher: The Atlantic Books (December 4, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,948 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you November 17, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Read! Unbiased and thoughtful. However, I am disappointed that Mr Oppenheimer did not include that Mr Shimano's claims of religious authority in traditional Rinzai Zen Buddhism are suspect. The Myoshin-ji Rinzai Zen Buddhist Organization in Japan, has unequivocally disavowed him as being certified a priest according to documents on shimanoarchive dot com, which read:

"Myoshin-ji has received many inquiries regarding its relationship with the Zen Studies Society in New York ever since the publication on 20 August 2010 of an article in the New York Times regarding the behavior of the Society's former director, Eido Shimano."

"On the occasion of establishing the Zen Studies Society, Eido Shimano stipulated that the Society was to have no relation to Myoshin-ji or any other branch of Japanese Rinzai Zen Buddhism. As far as Myoshin-ji is concerned, all along it has had no connection with Eido Shimano, his activities or organizations, including Dai Bosatsu Zendo and all affiliated Zen Studies Society institutions, nor is Eido Shimano or any of his successors certified as priests of the Myoshin-ji branch of Zen or recognized as qualified teachers."
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good approach January 4, 2014
By aloha
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
i found the approach to this very important subject matter to be thought provoking and objective. i have been at dai boasts zendo on several occasions during the years covered in the book and took training there. i think this book is important for it explores why this kind of behavior is "allowed" to happen for years tho folks are aware something is not correct. it is not only in the zen tradition. it has been found in yoga schools, the catholic church and so it seems an important issue for us all to look into. i would recommend those in the field of teaching "spiritual" practices to read it.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars specific criticisms? November 13, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I too lived through some of the times alluded to in "The Zen Predator of the Upper East Side" and think the book presents a credible and cogent narrative of a topic that spans nearly 50 years and is rife with aspects.

Without specific references, it is hard to know precisely what Tom Jameson disagrees with. What mis-characterizations are uppermost in his mind and how do those miscues impact the overall thrust of this long essay? Without specifying the points of failure, the reader is left to deduce that because Mr. Jameson was there, he is therefore speaking unassailable truths. This may well be so, but it stretches my credulity.

Perhaps he will be more specific.

-- adam fisher
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific journalism November 17, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the first "Kindle Single" I've bought, and I now see the appeal. Oppenheimer's essay is like the big meaty article that you might buy a magazine for. It's a gripping story of how a whole community made excuses, for decades, for their religious leader. For anyone interested in the history of religion in America, or the abuse of power in American religious institutions--or, more specifically, in Zen--this is really a necessary read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
When i initially read only the first several pages of the "Look Inside" sample sections of this long essay, i was concerned that, in some early paragraphs, author Mark Oppenheimer implied that Buddhism and Zen Buddhism - at least as seen by MOST people - are "beyond good and evil," beyond seeing "lewdness," and beyond seeing "demons."

All of which is simply not true. Buddhism in nearly all of its historical manifestations was/is rooted in the basic precepts, with sexual misconduct obviously one of the basic five violations. Moreover, the Buddha in the Pali Canon makes it clear that anyone who ignores or denies the basic law of karma is a "heretic" practitioner of the "nihilism extremist view" (uccheda ditthi). The first actual Chan document to discuss the Chinese Buddhist Vinaya (by Baizhang's disciple Guishan Lingyou), the Guishan Jingce (Guishan's Admonitions) strongly upholds the need to carefully follow ethical conduct and beware the karmic consequences upon violating wholesome behavior. Over in Japan, Dogen Zenji, for one, backs this up, especially in his later essays/talks in Shobogenzo and Eihei Koroku, not to mention the talks and writings of so many other Chan, Zen and Son masters down through the centuries. As for "demons in Buddhist view," the well-known Buddhist schema of the 6 different loka/gati planes/destinies makes it clear that the *asura*-demons/titans are alive and well, and some humans clearly suffer from a preponderance of asura-samskaras ("demon tendencies") of greed, lust, callous lack of empathy & compassion, pride, abuse of power, etc.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars captivating book December 21, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a captivating little book. Oppenheimer brings the perfect combination of skills to the task: the punctiliousness and persistence of an excellent journalist (I can't imagine these many interviews were easy to arrange), along with a religious historian's firm grasp of "cults" and their evolution throughout time. In the end, it's a sad and unfortunately not all that uncommon story. Here we have another "case study in a community's inability to protect itself." Recent examples are too numerous to list. But they are not limited to religious communities. Penn State football is one that comes to mind.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing issue exposed
Clear, informative, well-written. The author identifies a predator where the victims would not or could not bring him to justice.
Published 10 days ago by audrey asher
3.0 out of 5 stars From a Roshi's Persepctive
I believe Mark Oppenheimer did a good job of revealing the sociopathic character of Eido Shimano Roshi it's not hard to understand what propels his actions. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Stephen D. Echard
3.0 out of 5 stars a sad tale with many culprits
This is a sad tale that describes how Japanese Buddhism (Zen Buddhism is too broad a term), viewed as a cult by many, was aided by human failings in both the US and Japan to ruin... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jaco's Friend
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opener
Those familiar with Ken Wilber's work perhaps have read about how the so called "spiritual" maturity or development does not necessarily lead to high ethical standards or... Read more
Published 3 months ago by LKNBR
5.0 out of 5 stars So glad this story has finally been told
Oppenheimer avoids mere sensationalism--the shocking story of a monstrous sexual predator--and focuses as well on the bigger questions: How the Zen Studies Society for decades... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Glade
3.0 out of 5 stars author has ax to grind
Oppenheimer brings a very biased view to the story. Yes, what Shimano did is wrong. Sexual misconduct, in all its manifestations, is about the abuse of power. Read more
Published 3 months ago by K. Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Dose of Caution
I've had a lifetime, decades, of meditation groups, yoga classes, and skirting the edges of cults. I'd never classify Zen as a cult, but that doesn't stop some of their leadership... Read more
Published 4 months ago by tolarjev
3.0 out of 5 stars much ado about nothing unless you are a Zen buddhst....and even then
It just wasn't that interesting. It was a good article in a magazine type of read way.... Oh that's interesting fifteen minutes worth of interesting at most.
Published 4 months ago by futluz2
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent cautionary tale
Zen Predator focuses on one Japanese Buddhist monk, but the story reaches so much farther than that. Read more
Published 4 months ago by S. Weaver
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating tip of the iceberg?
And for three bucks, same as a slice of pizza at Whole Foods, whatcha got to lose?

Similar to the now classic "Shoes Outside The Door" (about Richard Baker's... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Eduardo Nietzsche
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More About the Author

Mark Oppenheimer writes "Beliefs," a biweekly column for The New York Times. He also writes for The New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, Slate, the Forward, and Tablet. He teaches English, religion, and political science at Yale, where he is the director of the Yale Journalism Initiative. Mark lives with his wife, daughters, and dogs in New Haven, Connecticut. For more information, please check his website at

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