Edward Brown barred from Teaching at SFZC
Edward Brown page
and Edward's Peaceful Sea Sangha
page created October 5, 2018
click on image to see higher res version
Lichen Browns open letter to the abbots and abbesses of the
on Google Docs
The letter of complaint:
Experience at Green Gulch
Letter from SFZC abbesses and abbot
to Edward (below)
Ed Brown's response to letter from
SFZC abbesses and abbot (below)
Ed writes in referring to Lichen's letter and the enormous response to it,
"it was not her intention to hurt or harm anyone, nor is it mine."
Leadership Statement Regarding
sent out by ZC on Sangha News and shared on Facebook
Comments from Others on this situation
Green Gulch Farm July 18, 2018 Edward Brown one day
do not include notation of Ed's frequent laughs while speaking)
- two poems after the first period of sitting (3:31)
Transcription (Transcriptions PDF with OCR)
- orientation after first sitting and kinhin (14:35)
- (informal) outside in the former pool area (26:32)
- Dharma talk (48:13) -
Excerpts from the Audio
Troubling excerpt 1 from Audio 2 -
(1:55) (from about 8:30 minutes in)
Troubling excerpt 2 from Audio 3 -
(2:00) (follows Jack Elias excerpt below) (from 32:57)
(see Letter of
Complaint for what troubled the writer about these two stories)
2 bonus excerpts not complained
Schedule comment (:27)
and On Working
with Jack Elias (7:57)
Listen to Edwards lectures at his
Edward sent this piece of his published in Buddhadharma fall
2013: Rules to Live By
DC offering: Any talk of this decision being
permanent is meaningless. Nothing is permanent in Zen Center and I don't mean
that in a cosmic way. Any decision can be changed at any time. And this is all
obviously in process. I can think of several times when I was permanently banned
from this or that at Zen Center and nothing came of any of it. When Kelly was a
kid, Baker Roshi got mad at him and told him he could never come back. Kelly
didn't cry. They made up the next day.
Woke? (BBC video) which has been shared with me multiple times on Facebook.
ZC is woke!
Letter from SFZC abbesses and abbot to Edward
September 26, 2018
We have received your emails in response to our
request to meet to discuss with you the situation that had arisen due to a
complaint that we had received from a person who attended your recent Saturday
Sitting at Green Gulch. We are sorry that it has taken several days to
respond to you.
A small group of us had wished to meet
with you to hear from you and discuss this complaint. However, your
response to that suggestion shows us that you do not wish to meet or have these
discussions, and that there seems to be a reservoir of anger and acrimony toward
those of us in leadership.
It is with great respect as well as great
sadness that we let you know of the following decision of the Abbots Executive
Group of Zen Center (Abbatial leadership, Chair of the Board, Tassajara Abiding
Teacher, Officers, and HR.) After deep consideration we have come to the
agreement that, with this letter, we are letting you know that we
are no longer inviting you to teach at Zen Center's three temples--especially
since the relationship you have now with SF Zen Center seems to be filled with
such animosity. This will include any one-day sittings that are currently
Over the years there have been many
concerns voiced by students, those attending your retreats and lectures, and
teachers, about your deportment from the dharma seat. In the past, you have been
informed about a number of these complaints, which Zen Center has needed to
respond to on your behalf. In discussion with the leadership of Zen Center, and
in consultation with your teacher, Sojun Mel Weitsman, we have now come to feel
that your wish and need to express yourself fully, and the way you choose to do
so, is not in alignment with the current needs and conditions of our community
and what we wish to offer.
We do not wish to place unrealistic
demands on you for a particular kind of speech, nor do we wish to dictate or
monitor the content of your offerings. If asked we will suggest to those who
wish to study with you at SF Zen Center to do so at other retreat sites
We are very sorry for any unhappiness
this decision may cause you. We too are greatly affected by this decision. We
thank you for your many years of generosity, and continue to hold you in high
regard as a gifted teacher in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi.
Linda Ruth Cutts
Ed Brown's response to
letter from SFZC abbesses and abbot
Though you have decided that I will no
be teaching at Zen Center, I have decided to share
my heart and mind with you in any case.
I feel sad about this.
If I understand correctly your initial
communication to me was prompted by a letter from a student who felt unsafe and
threatened when I tried to explain the bathroom situation,
because she thought that I was making fun of trans-gender people and their
Later in the day she heard me speaking
about an "erection" even though I did not use this expression--as can be
verified on the tapes of the day. Margot has reminded me about this - that you
need to be very clear that I did not
and would not use that word, so that you do not allow the student's mistaken
perception to color your view of me.
I was shocked and hurt by your letter, because it
struck me that you were assuming that I was being irresponsible and causing harm
with careless speech--without first checking with
me or anyone else about what happened that day. Further I was surprised and
puzzled that no one expressed any interest in listening to the tapes to hear
what was said and what wasn't.
It is not my intention to hurt, harm, or
threaten anyone, so my apologies for not being impeccable enough about this in
My intention is always to listen to the
room and what needs I can address. In retrospect, I did not listen carefully
enough in this situation.
I am willing to study and learn. I am
willing to be much more careful in understanding what is off the table: anything
with gender or identity issues or sexual matters certainly--and
keep it out of my language: no stories, jokes, what-have-you.
We are living in a different era. I have no problem
my zendo speech accordingly both as to style and content,
especially as I realize that I have made poor judgments at times.
I offer teaching and talks where and when I am
invited and welcomed to do so. As caretakers of Zen Center it is certainly your
prerogative to decide who teaches there and who doesn't. So in that regard I
place myself in your hands,
as I always have.
I may have missed my chance to speak with you. Should
you reconsider in the near or long-term future having a meeting with me, I would
welcome such an
We have not seen each other face to face very often,
and it would be a shame to have our view
of one another based on e-mails, silence, and (unverified) third party
There is a lot we can all learn in these changing
times about how to relate with one another with
wisdom, empathy, and compassion.
Warm wishes for your health and
happiness, joy and wellbeing,
Some lines from Wendell Berry,
Again, again we come and go,
changed, changing. Hands
join, unjoin in love and fear,
grief and joy. The circles turn,
each giving in to each, into all.