First, let me say I have never met either Brad Warner or Kuzan Peter Schireson. I have met Grace Schireson, who is also a Zen teacher and Peter Schireson's wife, and I have enormous respect for her. The Schiresons have lineage connections to Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, who is also a dharma ancestor of my teacher, Susan Postal. Brad Warner is a dharma heir of Gudo Wafu Nishijima Roshi, also a Soto Zen teacher, although one may have to go back a few generations to find common ancestors with the Schiresons.
Disclaimers aside -- This is about the Sasaki situation, the long-standing allegations of sexual abuse surrounding Joshu Sasaki Roshi of the Rinzai-ji Zen Center in Los Angeles. I wrote quite a bit about this a couple of weeks ago and would rather not repeat it all. Let's jump ahead to the responses.
This controversy has generated many views from many perspectives. This is normal. I say there is no one "correct" view in this matter. In fact, the only really "incorrect" view (other than ignoring the issue entirely) is to insist there is only one correct view. One-size-fits-all moral absolutes are unskillful.
Brad Warner provided a fairly nuanced perspective on the Sasaki situation a few days ago (scroll down a bit). His perspective differs in some respects from mine. I think he misses some points, but I agree with him on other points. At the very least, I think there is a lot there worthy of clarification and discussion, as well as disagreement.
Peter Schireson's response to Brad Warner, on the other hand, seems to offer little but ridicule of Brad Warner. I am surprised at this, to say the least. Then in a partial walkback, Peter Schireson wrote,
"Perhaps going forward, there will be a sub-set of practice groups and Zen sanghas or centers that are explicit about having a policy of 'student/teacher sex and romance are okay.' I tried to parody such a policy idea in my original post. I now gather some may think it's actually a worthwhile proposition. I don't."
I went back and re-read what Brad Warner wrote, and I don't see him saying "student/teacher sex and romance are okay."† He's saying that where there is student/teacher sex, reactively sorting all participants into victim or perpetrator categories is not always helpful.† And I think that's true. On the other hand, where a teacher is behaving as Sasaki Roshi allegedly behaves, we should be looking for a pervasive pattern of treating women as second-class students. Brad Warner seems to miss that.
I'm as opposed to sexual predation as anyone could be, and I think it's particularly awful when institutions allow it to continue by looking the other way. We could all use some guidance on how not to look the other way. But flipping into lynch mob mode may not always be the way to go.
It also strikes me that people often react to Brad Warner's persona as the Bad Boy of Zen, more than to what he actually says or does. As I've said, I never met Brad Warner and am certainly not authorized to speak for him. But my impression is that, packaging aside, he is not really the revolutionary anti-institutional anarchist his detractors, and some admirers, make him out to be.