Zen Teacher To Speak About Sexual Misconduct

Issues of sexual misconduct have recently affected colleges, religious organizations, businesses, political parties, the military and more.

The issue is the focus of a seminar at Dartmouth College April 5 and 6, exploring “power, gender and sexual misconduct” from the perspective of Zen Buddhist teacher and psychologist Grace Schireson.

The program kicks off Friday, April 5, from 5 to 7 p.m. (Carpenter Hall) with the film Crazy Wisdom, about the iconic Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, whose legacy is complicated by reported alcoholism and sexual conduct. A discussion afterward will be led by Schireson and Tibetan Shambhala teacher Donna Williams.

The seminar continues Saturday morning (Cutter Shabazz lounge), from 10 a.m. to noon, with an opportunity to participate in formal meditation practice and, after lunch, with a presentation by Schireson at 1 p.m. A panel discussion follows at 2:30, involving Dartmouth faculty member James Igoe, psychologist David Cantagallo, and Kate Rohdenburg of WISE, a social service agency in Lebanon that provides advocacy, crisis services, and community education to those affected by domestic and sexual violence.

The seminar coincides with a Symposium on Sexual Assault on April 7, also at Dartmouth.

“These are hard conversations,” said Allyn Field, of the Upper Valley Zen Center in White River Junction. “I have seen the hurt and conflict in the Buddhist community that sexual misconduct by a teacher can cause. It is hard to separate regard for a teacher from the misbehavior that compels me to speak out. And yet, it must be the goal of any teaching that people finally take a responsible position of their own.”

Schireson is head teacher of the Central Valley Zen Foundation and has founded and leads three Zen groups and a Zen retreat center in California. She is a clinical psychologist who has specialized in women and families. She is author of a historical account titled Zen Women.

The seminar is organized by the Upper Valley Zen Center in partnership with Dartmouth faculty Reiko Ohnuma and Sienna Craig, with support from the Women and Gender Studies program, Dartmouth’s Ethics Institute, the Provost’s Office, the Religion Department, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Program, the Leslie Center for the Humanities, and the Tucker Foundation.

For more information about the seminar, go to www.uvzc.org/2013-seminar.