Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Zen and the Art of Methadone Maintenance

“Joshu Sasaki, 107, Tainted Zen Master” read the Times obit (NYT, 8/4/14)  Prostitution may be the world’s oldest profession, but Sasaki’s fall from grace is one of the occupational challenges of all those who choose to profess. Nothing new about teachers hitting on students. The Times cited Harold D. Roth, professor of religious studies at Brown, in his defense. “Everything he did was in the devoted service of awakening enlightenment in his students,” Roth is quoted as saying. “Com’on baby light my fire,” sing The Doors and according to the obit “former students…said he would tell them that sexual contact with a Zen master, or roshi, like him would help them attain new levels of ‘non-attachment,’ one of Zen’s central objectives.” Well at least Sasaki himself benefited and if the form of enlightenment he preached proved shallow to his former students, that great come-on could have been nothing less than enlightening for future generations of sexual predators for whom the mantra of non-attachment provided one of the best lines in the business. Parenthetically Sasaki might have found employment as a guru during the heyday of Sullivanian psychoanalysis where polygamy was the therapeutic intervention du jour. It’s funny how great discoveries come about. Alexander Fleming produced penicillin by accident. Viagra was originally a heart medication (“Discovered by Accident, Viagra Still Popular 10 Years Later, “ Fox News, 3/24/08) It was revealed as a treatment for ED when patients, who were given it, began to get hard-ons. Sasaki may have lost his credibility as a Zen master. However, he inadvertently was following the path of Frank Harris who wrote My Life and Loves. Sasaki may end up going down in history as one of the great philanderers. He didn’t lead his conquests to satori but he provided momentary enlightenment to those whose minds he chose to blow.

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