Talk:Dennis Merzel

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Former good article nominee Dennis Merzel was a Philosophy and religion good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
January 28, 2008 Good article nominee Not listed
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Resources?[edit]

Removed from the article:

Most who approach the process with an open mind report an experience of expanded awareness.

I'd like to see any independent source stating that this is true.—Nat Krause(Talk!) 18:41, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

A press release?[edit]

This article strikes me as more of a press release than an encyclopedic article. This may boarder on spam. Perhaps if the article could be expanded with some independent sources it would be better. Nightngle 16:08, 16 October 2006 (UTC)


GA review (see here for criteria)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS):
    Roughly half of this article is concerned with Big Mind practice rather than the specific biography of the subject. While I understand that it is his main teaching idea, it should still consist of no more than one-third of the entire article. The “press release” aspect of the article mentioned on the talk page still applies.
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. It is stable.
    No edit wars etc.:
  6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
    I don’t see any information regarding copyright release or fair use for a couple of the images
  7. Overall:
    Pass/Fail:

Controversial information[edit]

I just want to remind editors to reference material that is particularly controversial when editing this or any other article. This is a biography of a living person, and as such statements of this nature require sourcing all the more.(Mind meal (talk) 09:54, 13 February 2008 (UTC))

In the first paragraph it says Merzel is the former president of the White Plum Asanga yet in the biography section it states he is the current president

Recent Edits[edit]

There have been some recent edits (from an IP address, and done piece-meal) that seem directed against the person in question, while they might be true, they are not referenced. If the person responsible would like to comment here on these changes or undo them, that's fine - otherwise I will be reverting several of them.

BananaFiend (talk) 10:15, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Well, looks like there has been a lot of work done on this recently, disregard my previous comments BananaFiend (talk) 11:20, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Edit protected request[edit]

{{editprotected}} Please add Timeline of Zen Buddhism in the United States to a see also section. (Mind meal (talk) 21:31, 14 February 2008 (UTC))

Done.--Tikiwont (talk) 09:29, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

Unacceptable Edits[edit]

I was told in another article's discussion page that my edits to this page were "totally unacceptable." I was accused in this article's edit history of being "hagiographic and POV". Does anyone want to tell me what if anything made my edits to this article "totally"– or even partially– unacceptable? My perception is that I merely clarified the existing article. Timothy Horrigan (talk) 16:26, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

You made a bunch of edits, most of which were unacceptable, for a number of reasons. But their direction was clear enough - hagiography. You've shown a similar intent on the Adi Da page. Please bring individual points and proposals here for discussion, and I'll be happy to point out problems I perceive, and work toward consensus changes.Tao2911 (talk) 20:27, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
Also, Brad Warner is a notable figure, like him or not (I don't very much.) His criticisms of Merzel have received a lot of attention in print/online, and the consensus here has been that they deserve mention, in line with pages on many other figures.Tao2911 (talk) 20:32, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
Cited from a blog? Ich don't think so. Drmies (talk) 20:49, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

Drmies, you can have the page. But I will tell you now that you blanked a whole bunch of stuff that was well sourced - including tertiary news reports. I'll let someone else fight for it. I don't care enough. Very poor editing, and editor interaction.Tao2911 (talk) 20:54, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

  • I'll let this insult slip, and will chalk it down to a complete lack of familiarity with WP:BLP. Drmies (talk) 21:04, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

Oh gee, THANK YOU great wise editor, for letting me off. I am sorry that I pointed out I found your edits problematic. I take it back. They were WONDERFUL.Tao2911 (talk) 21:06, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

Blogs are acceptable sources in some cases - when they are maintained by someone prominent, for instance, as is the case here. What on earth happened to this article? The whole thing is gone, including a great deal of uncontroversial information. Further, the following announcement is on the White Plum sangha home page: "The White Plum Asanga Board of Directors has accepted the resignation of Genpo Merzel from White Plum Asanga membership as well as an Elder of the White Plum. This resignation is a result of his recent disclosures regarding sexual misconduct with several of his students. Please see the Big Mind website for their statement. On behalf of the White Plum organization, I extend our support for Genpo's efforts in recovery and treatment and to the teachers and members of the Kanzeon Sangha in their efforts in healing and realigning their communities. --- Roshi Gerry Shishin Wick, President, WPA." This is the sanctioning body of his lineage and their official home page--surely it is a reliable source.Sylvain1972 (talk) 23:46, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

talk to drmies and bbb23...my nomination for worst editors on wikipedia...Tao2911 (talk) 00:30, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

  • Sylvain, blogs are not acceptable sources. Your comments here with the regular rants by that college professor do not constitute a consensus that allows you to instate unverified material sourced to things that will never pass muster. You should have a look at WP:RS. Oh, college professor, I hope that you are not the one at your institution teaching students about the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. Happy days, and good luck, Drmies (talk) 02:34, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
You have reverted an enormous amount of material, 90% of which is not blogs. In fact, most of what you removed is information cited from the subject's own website. There is no justification for this. It is perfectly in keeping with WP:RS.Sylvain1972 (talk) 20:47, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

Drmies, you are an insufferable ass. If you happened to read even the sources you are leaving now, you would find there much of the bio you keep wiping out for some completely inexplicable reason.Tao2911 (talk) 04:57, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

recent edits[edit]

Just to point out that after a radical slash and burn was instituted of the page, by editors totally unfamiliar with subject who didn't bother to read even the solid citations provided much less the sketchy ones, we now have editors leaving a couple shattered fragments of the page with no attention to wikipedia standards, style points, nothing. I've seen this kind of thing before, and people just hack away, not seeing that the patient is just a mangled couple of limbs left on the table. At this point, might as well delete the whole page. Totally insensitive editing. Just stupid.Tao2911 (talk) 02:15, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

Lovely.--Bbb23 (talk) 02:19, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

If you are going to fight for that one stupid line, why not actually go to those citations and actually write a bio. This is just totally idiotic now.Tao2911 (talk) 02:28, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

Until you stop using words like "stupid" (twice) and "idiotic" (once), not to mention "insensitive", you ain't gonna get a substantive response from me. Although not perjorative, "totally" (three times) wins.--Bbb23 (talk) 02:42, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
Bbb, a quick stroll through the ANI archives taught me that I was not the only one who got an earful from this editor, and now you know too. Drmies (talk) 04:40, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

@bbb- how droll. And Drmies, you've left quite a trail of civility yourself...glass houses.Tao2911 (talk) 05:29, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

  • Haha, not on ANI or my block log. Only in your mind. Drmies (talk) 17:31, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

"haha!" What are you, twelve? And btw, mention of his retirement/disrobing has been reinserted, using the same sources you rejected before. Did you only object when I did it, hmmm?Tao2911 (talk) 16:56, 14 February 2011 (UTC)

Major changes to article[edit]

Tao2911 slashed the article. Although some of the edits seemed sound, many were not, and certainly at least one of the edit summaries was, at best, unprofessional. Anyway, I backed it all out but also restored some of his changes manually.

I believve that Merzel's only real claim to fame is his former position as a monk. You can't remove all of the material about that former position just because he's no longer a monk. So, I restored that material. I changed the infobox to person rather than religious figure and kept in just the relevant data. I also restored most of the categories because they're still true. He's still what he is, just no longer a monk (I removed that cat). I removed all the Genpo references, but we may want to consider an article name change (move). This is all assuming Merzel is sufficiently notable to even retain the article.

Tao's comment about the Dutch article is misguided. There's nothing wrong with sources in foreign languages, although English sources are preferred. See WP:NOENG.--Bbb23 (talk) 01:30, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

I didn't slash the article you Moron, you and that other idiot did. I just helped. Drmies said you couldn't use those citations for the resignation. I am removing per his/her directives. take it up with it. Incredible.Tao2911 (talk) 05:24, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
I've restored everything that either wasn't controversial or was adequately cited.Sylvain1972 (talk) 20:56, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

Article Needs to be Unslashed[edit]

Merzel resigned from his religious order, as a teacher and as a monk, and made a public statement about it. His religious order also made a statement, which was a little more complete as it acknowledged Merzel had admitted multiple sexual improprieties with his Zen students. These are matters of historical fact and were sourced to Merzel's own statement and that of his religious order. They need to go back in. Furthermore, he has not given up his "dharma name" Genpo, so it needs to go back in as well. I put this material in once already and now I am requesting whoever took it out to restore it. Marshhawk (talk) 13:16, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

this doesn't even bear argument - it's patently obviously true. But editor drmies showed up on the warpath to undo any of my edits, because some disgruntled fanatic on another page somehow is connected with drmies, complained on his/her talk page, and drmies came undoing anything I happened to be doing. Including gutting this entire article without any discussion (including reams of consensus, accepted bio material, in effect the whole page), template blasting my talk page, and refusing to engage in any reasonable argument. So now we have a page with no information, and another editor fighting for the inclusion of random nonsensical lines from a source in Dutch. Another instance of when wikipedia junky trolls just go banging around and wielding rules like clubs, with NO attention to the reality of the situation, or the integrity of a page or its regular, knowledgeable editors. I could template blast and link away, but what's the point? They'd just do more of the same.Tao2911 (talk) 18:22, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

No matter how you view the situation at hand, to delete quality information is unjustified. I am going to revert it back to the way it was yesterday and I hope that cooler heads will prevail with regard to deleting vast quantities of good material. Update - I have applied for a limited protection status for this page until the edits are more neutral and substantiated. Golgofrinchian talk 23:41, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

you certainly have my support. I was just waiting for the cavalry.Tao2911 (talk) 06:17, 19 February 2011 (UTC)


BLP and the misuse of a feature of WP[edit]

drmies you keep editing this page with the contentious use of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Biographies_of_living_persons. The previous editors have done a very good job attempting to meet your standards yet you continue to edit this page with a bias that has to be questioned.

"Editors must take particular care when adding information about living persons to any Wikipedia page. Such material requires a high degree of sensitivity, and must adhere strictly to all applicable laws in the United States, to this policy, and to Wikipedia's three core content policies:

Are you saying that his admission of guilt, somehow is not real? HE Admitted that he failed his marriage, his community and so on. What part of that is incorrect?


Neutral point of view (NPOV) - Nothing on this page is slanderous. Its either public knowledge or admitted by Merzel himself on his blog, and or in print. Verifiability (V) - The previous editors have done a very good job jumping through your hoops to verify this information. Significantly better than MANY other wiki entries on other BLP. No original research (NOR) - "n.a." We must get the article right. Be very firm about the use of high quality sources. All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced—whether the material is negative, positive, neutral, or just questionable—should be removed immediately and without waiting for discussion. Users who constantly or egregiously violate this policy may be blocked from editing. ""What about editors that continue to harass others?"" Biographies of living persons (BLPs) must be written conservatively and with regard for the subject's privacy. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a tabloid: it is not Wikipedia's job to be sensationalist, or to be the primary vehicle for the spread of titillating claims about people's lives, and the possibility of harm to living subjects must always be considered when exercising editorial judgment. This policy applies to BLPs, including any living person mentioned in a BLP even if not the subject of the article, and to material about living persons on other pages.[3] The burden of evidence for any edit on Wikipedia rests with the person who adds or restores material. Nothing listed is sensationalist, there are no lurid details, only details that Buddhist practitioners may want to know about a significant figure in the community

From your last edit: "editors here seem to believe that a BLP can be satisfactorily sourced to the subject's own website" 'Yes it can and is acceptable under WP guidelines.

'Avoid self-published sources Shortcut: WP:BLPSPS Never use self-published sources—including but not limited to books, zines, websites, blogs, and tweets—as sources of material about a living person, unless written or published by the subject. Several of the links people are pointing to are websites Merzel himself has written. How is that improper source? It is not. He wrote it, it is his website, it is perfectly acceptable as proof. Golgofrinchian talk 20:27, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

drmies is not showing any good faith regards the quality of the page, but only some kind of seeming crusade in favor of one (mis)interpretation of one WP guideline. I completely concur with Golgo's assessment.Tao2911 (talk) 21:29, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for taking the lead on this. I imagine there will be additional steps necessary when the protection expires--hopefully at that time whatever dispute resolutions are necessary can be pursued. I agree that little civility or good faith has been shown by editor drmies, who seems to be inventing and applying a BLP policy of his own making.Sylvain1972 (talk) 18:01, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Goglofrinchian, there are too many words, too much bold print, and too many ungrammatical sentences and misspelled words in your message, but what is quite clear from your diatribe is this: you don't understand our guidelines. The same goes for your choir--anytime editors agree that personal websites are OK in BLPs (I cite: "From your last edit: "editors here seem to believe that a BLP can be satisfactorily sourced to the subject's own website" 'Yes it can and is acceptable under WP guidelines") it's clear that we are dealing with editors who don't understand our guidelines. I'm going to put a couple of tags on the article, since I don't want to give innocent bystanders the impression that the article is OK. Drmies (talk) 16:05, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Directly from WP:SPS: "Self-published and questionable sources may be used as sources of information about themselves." That is about as clear as it can be.Sylvain1972 (talk) 16:10, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
Making it bold doesn't make it any clearer. In any event, there are four exceptions, so it's important to scrutinize each assertion before deciding whether it's acceptable to use a self-published source. In addition, there's an overarching fifth exception ("the article is not based primarily on such sources") that's important, particularly in this article.--Bbb23 (talk) 23:46, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
Making it bold further highlights it as I intended, which seems to be necessary given all the claims to the contrary that have been made here. Most of the exceptions are not applicable in this case. In fact, given that Big Mind Inc is registered as a non-profit corporation in the state of Colorado, it is highly questionable whether the information it contains about its founder on its website even counts as a "self-published source" as defined in WP:SPS.Sylvain1972 (talk) 20:38, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
Why?--Bbb23 (talk) 00:00, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
WP:SPS defines self-published sources as "personal web pages" and "self-published media, such as books, patents, newsletters, personal websites, open wikis, personal or group blogs, Internet forum postings, and tweets." The Big Mind site is not any of these things - it's the official website of a registered corporation featuring information about its founding director.Sylvain1972 (talk) 16:03, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
A corporation is no different from a person. A self-published source is defined as "self-published media". The "such as" are examples, but they are not necessarily exhaustive. I also don't see any indication that the Big Mind website is maintained by a corporation. There's no About us link and nothing else I could find to indicate it is. To the extent it even matters, nor did a search of the Colorado Secretary of State website turn up any corporation named Big Mind.--Bbb23 (talk) 00:37, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

I just don't get why two editors are so determined to gut this article. I am no fan of Merzel - I worked to drain much the hyperbolic and hagiographic material from this entry, and strip it to some basic biographical material, in keeping with pages on figures of similar stature. The few paragraphs that were here were totally inoffensive. It's fine to use, for instance, the Big Mind site for some basic bio material if that material seems reasonable and isn't contentious. So much of what drmies and Bbb23 are arguing for or against makes absolutely no sense. Including excising much basic, non-disputable bio material that is even supported by sources they've accepted. The page as it now exists is plain bad. It's bad. Bad editing, bad interaction, nastiness all round. And yes, apparently willful stupidity, seemingly exercised simply to inflame and aggravate others. In other words, bullying and page ownership.Tao2911 (talk) 16:54, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

Going forward[edit]

In the latest edit in this messy article and messy edit warring, Drmies reverted Tao2911's reversion (well I won't go on) - the net result being an article that is fairly stripped down.

Here are my suggestions going forward:

  • Don't talk about the past warring.
  • If you want to build the article, don't revert Drmies. Instead, edit to add information.
  • Any new information must be reliably sourced. No links to "not found"s. Check your cites before finalizing the edits.
  • If you want to link to a self-published source, make sure it's for the kinds of assertions that can be supported by self-published sources. For example, background biographical information.
  • Leave trivia out of the article. Stuff about winning gold medals in water polo have nothing to do with the subject's notability.
  • Keep the infobox person template for now. If you want to discuss using the infobox religious biography template, then do so in a separate section here on the Talk page restricted to that issue.
  • Drmies, do not call Tao's reversions or changes "vandalism". Whatever you may think of the merits of the changes, they cannot be considered vandalism.

I have little confidence that anyone will follow my suggestions, but wholesale reversions to the bigger article, replete with problems, will cause me at least to join in the reversions.--Bbb23 (talk) 19:43, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

Bb, I have the feeling that you think I went too far--that's fine, that's a matter of judgment, and I respect yours. And as you said, adding to what is there, verified by reliable sources, is the way to build. But I do believe in taking a strong stance on the BLP issue, and when reliable source are removed, that's not good. Such removals I call vandalism, esp. coming from someone who called you a moron and me an idiot, someone in whose good faith I have little trust. But I am perfectly willing to drop that matter entirely--as long as the BLP policies are being honored. Drmies (talk) 23:19, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Although vandalism is initially defined very broadly ("Vandalism is any addition, removal, or change of content in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of Wikipedia."), it is subseqently qualified ("Even if misguided, willfully against consensus, or disruptive, any good-faith effort to improve the encyclopedia is not vandalism. Edit warring over content is not vandalism."). See WP:VAN. I want to get past trading epithets and resurrecting past epithets and move on. And remember that just because you believe something violates a BLP policy doesn't mean you're right. I'm not taking a position on that now, particularly in the abstract. An incremental approach permits more focused discussion, hopefully without hyperbolic rhetoric from anyone.--Bbb23 (talk) 23:40, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

Protected[edit]

This article has been fully protected for one month per the result of WP:AN3#User:Drmies reported by User:Golgofrinchian (Result: Protected). Please use the talk page to get consensus about the outstanding issues, keeping in mind the requirements of WP:BLP. Use {{editprotect}} to ask for changes which are supported by consensus. Ask for unprotection at WP:RFUP if the dispute is resolved. Thank you, EdJohnston (talk) 18:33, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

  • Users Tao, Sylvain, and Golgofrinchian are welcome to contribute. I don't have the power to edit this article now anymore than you do, but proposed edits can be placed here for discussion. I reiterate: I am not averse to more information being added to the article, but it can't go at the expense of verified content, and it should have reliable sourcing. For that personal website, stuff for instance about what Menzel had to say about his "disrobing" can be added, as long as it talks about himself--that is fine. But info about his accomplishments, for instance, cannot be sourced to that website: such material is "unduly self-serving" in the sense of WP:SELFPUB, at least in my reading thereof. Disputes on the reading of that policy should be taken up here or, if all else fails, on Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard. Thank you, and thank you Ed. Drmies (talk)
The information about his dharma teachers and successors is not self-serving, that is some of the most fundamental information of interest for a zen teacher. It is a standard part of every zen teacher's bio.Sylvain1972 (talk) 16:20, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

POV[edit]

"Long POV quote totally inappropriate! This Josh John guy is radically editing dozens of Zen pages, with many problems." So, what's the POV, what's inappropriate, and what are the "many problems"? Joshua Jonathan (talk) 20:27, 5 June 2012 (UTC)

Hagiographic rewriting[edit]

At 14 june 2012 the article on Dennis Merzel has been rewritten in a hagiographic fashion. I don't mean the adding of "Genpo" et cetera to his name throughout the article, which is understandable, since it is the name he uses himself, but especially this version. There has been quite some discussing on the contents before; this discussion has simply been bypassed. I'll sum up the major issues:

  • Lead: merging of the lead into the biography

This seems to be an artistic choice not a requirement see the following policy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Lead_section

  • "From his first awakening in February of 1971, Genpo Merzel’s life has been about waking up to our essential nature, our True Self and assisting others to awaken. For the past forty years since then his purpose and his passion have remained the same: to deepen his own clarity and to assist others to awaken and realize their true nature." From the controversy surrounding Merzel it should be clear that this, at best, is one view on Dennis Merzel. At worst, it bypasses the actually behaviours of Dennis Merzel ( I still stae it very friendly).

It maybe your opinion that Dennis Genpo Merzel does not do these things however, Dennis/Genpo has stated this publicly several times as his goals and missions and he continues to teach in a manner that reflects these statements.

  • "A champion water polo player": what's the relevance, except for giving extra credentials ("champion")?

Reference added for your verification. The statement simply provides early life history as a biography should.

  • "chopping wood, carrying water": clever rhetorics, directly quoted from the Zen-classics.

While you may see this as clever rhetoric that does not dispute the fact that he could have and most likely did spend a serious amount of time gathering fire wood while living in Luis Obispo.

  • "Inka, the final seal of approval": in the Sanbo Kyodan/White Plum Asanga tradition. Quite different from the Japanese tradition. When did Merzel do ango?

Are you serious? His teacher http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taizan_Maezumi was Japanese and trained in all three Japanese traditions. If there is one thing about Dennis Genpo Merzel that is not under question is that he is officially recognized by the Soto School of Zen in Japan. And has received all certifications and met all requirements of his titles. His Big Mind teachings may be different that the Japanese Traditions he was taught however there is no doubt that he was ordained as a Zen Master in the Japanese Traditions.

Ango a 90 day retreat. He has done several 90 day retreats in his last 40 years a zen monk/master.

  • List of dharma heirs: redundant info.

The redundancy does not change the fact of who his successors are.

  • "Acclaimed by Ken Wilber": the grandiosity of this claim should be clearn. Ken Wilber has been highly critisized for this kind of grandiosity (again, I put it friendly). See this blog for an example.

While Mr Wilber my have some personal criticisms on one individual's blog that does not negate the fact that Mr. Wilber has publicly made the statement in support of Dennis Genpo Merzel in several reputable media sources. Again please remember that individuals blogs do not qualify as reputable media sources.

  • "has helped many thousands of people from all walks of life achieve awakening with little or no prior consciousness study": that's an impressing claim, made by Merzel himself, and by Wilber. At least it should be stated that this is their claim - and there-after should be stated a counterclaim of the impossibility of 'instant awakening', and the need of serious and humble practice which is asked in serious contemplative practices.

Unfortunately the research performed by the University of Utah can support the claim that the Big Mind process does affect individuals in the same manner as "traditional" zen practices. As Dennis Merzel has led thousands of individuals in his Big Mind Meditation the statement can be considered true and reasonable. Unfortunately you apparently have not read the entire report by the University.

  • "A researcher" etc: call his name, mention that this is a laboratory setting, and also investigate if there are negative experiences with Big Mind. Which there are. Mention also the resemblance with EST and other 'methods'.

Again you need to provide reputable media sources for these "negative" experience accounts in order to include them in a biography of a living individual.

  • "Genpo Roshi also has a very human side which he voluntarily revealed": this is spinning, not even rhetorics (the twist is to obvious). By the way, what happened to the Bar Harbor affair?

The statement indicates that there were three affairs. The bar harbor affair is included in the list. Again as with all other statements you can not violate the Living Persons Policy. If you can produce multiple reputable media sources there is no reason the content would not be posted. However, the only information available on Dennis Merzel's affairs seems to be the statements he and his organization have made.

Please discuss before make such radical and non-neutral edits. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 05:22, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

The edits made are within the guidelines of the Living Persons Policy. If you feel that the current statement has a spin your welcome to request a third party or administration arbitration of the matter however. All of the statements are referenced by multiple reputable sources and are not "spun" in any context that does not accurately reflect the information in those sources. If you wish to defame Dennis Genpo Merzel you should start a blog as you are so accustom to referencing. Wikipedia is a place for accurate information on a topic not our personal opinions of that topic.

I'm with you Joshua! Reverted page to pre-hagiographic state - the page once read very similar to these changes, until a number of editors shaped it up. Let's not go back to that mess.Tao2911 (talk) 14:05, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
Totally on board with this, but the detail from the published clinical trial seems relevant, don't you think? Jikaku (talk) 14:19, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
honestly I didn't even read that far - it was all so bad I wasn't going to wade into it, just take it back. Before I do, isn't there a "Big Mind" page? Shouldn't that info just be there? It seems to be linked.Tao2911 (talk) 15:31, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
I have no problem with the line you've inserted, without having looked at the source...Tao2911 (talk) 15:33, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

Confused?[edit]

So I watch this page and several others about american zen masters because I am dont some sociological research on american zen for my thesis. I have read both versions of the postings and it seems that the references in ttbakiatwoam's posts are sound reliable media souces and the information he is posting matches a good portion of my research into this man (which took days because of the lack of information on this page originally). I am not sourcing wikipedia for my information but I have found it is a good resource for the bare bones. It seems like individuals like Tao2911 and Joshua Johnathan have something against Dennis Merzel and are intentionally trying to keep infromation off this page. I would just like to know why? I am reverting the page to the one with more information. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Enso 83 (talkcontribs) 19:01, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

and I have a PhD in the metaphysics of the lesser woodland marmot, and I am most certainly not a sock puppet (unlike Enso, who is now blocked, along with counterpart). The page I admit is weighted toward the controversial material - but that happens sadly to conform to the actual tertiary sources, who don't happen to include Merzel's websites or Ken Wilber.Tao2911 (talk) 20:58, 15 June 2012 (UTC)

I admit I'm not a fan of Dennis Merzel (I deliberately don't use the name "Genpo roshi". According to the Japanese system, Merzel is not a shike, not by his level of institution training, and even less by his behavior), but the situation, to me, is more complex than just black-or-white:

  • A dear friend of mine is a student of Nico Tydeman. I like this friend, though I don't support his involvement with Dennis Merzel. But that's a topic we don't discuss; too sensitive a topic;
  • Nico Tydeman is a respected Zen-teacher (teacher, not master) in Holland. It seems to me that he's an integre personality, though I don't understand why he does not dis-commit himself from Merzel. But I'm not the one to make a decisive judgement on that;
  • Andre van de Braak, a former student of Andrew Cohen, sits with Nico Tydeman. But also with Ton Lathouwers. Andre knows, from personal experience, about gurus & disgrace, but also about the human proneness to believe in gurus. He has become a critical researcher on Zen.

Those people are, one way or another, involved with Dennis Merzel. I like them and/or respect them. There must be something about Dennis Merzel that's good and inspiring. Yet, based on the information that I've read abouthim, there's no way whatsoever that I would ever want to become his student, or follow a sesshin or training, or even a lecture. No way.
It's clear that I'm not the only one in this world with this opinion on Dennis Merzel. This one pretty good states what's the problem. When starting a search on Dennis merzel on Google, the second string that's suggested by Google is "Dennis Merzel scandal". Follow it, to get an impression. If that's not enough, see Muho noelke, abbot of Antaiji, on the professionalization of Zen. All of these links, and the opinions stated there-in, are not in the article. The article is restricted to facts: affairs, and responses by a large group of American Zen teachers. That is balance (and then, mention of this letter, written in 1992, mentioning "Genpo-sensei's long-standing and continuing pattern of sexual involvements with his students and the violation of trust that such misconduct reveals" is still missing).
As for the hagiographic rewriting: this is a subject that's much bigger than Dennis Merzel. The ideal-picture of the Zen-master is at least a thousand years old, and is inseparable from politics and power. It is now influencing American Zen. A short list of recommanded reading on this topic:

So far for the apology for my point of view. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 20:01, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

c'mon. This is not the place for "general discussions of the topic." You are not here to educate. Make proposals for the article, or don't add to the noise. These threads get mucked up enough as it is.Tao2911 (talk) 21:31, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

1992 letter[edit]

Well, this is a proposal: to mention this letter, written in 1992, mentioning "Genpo-sensei's long-standing and continuing pattern of sexual involvements with his students and the violation of trust that such misconduct reveals". Vriendelijke groeten, Joshua Jonathan (talk) 05:19, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Can't use it - not unless it is mentioned by a source. We don't put the pieces together. We just summarize the sources that do. I'm no fan of this guy. But we have to do this by the book.Tao2911 (talk) 13:10, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

I see. I think you're correct. The SweepingZen-site has an overview of letters on Dennis Merzel; would that count as a secundary source?
Les Kaye also mentions this letter in a letter written by him, but that letter is posted in a blog, so I guess that does not count as a source, does it? By the way, Brad warner has responded to this letter by Les Kaye, somehow defending Merzel against part of Kaye's writing. Ad infinitum...Joshua Jonathan (talk) 15:38, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Got one: Non-duality magazine. How about that one? Joshua Jonathan (talk) 15:56, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
we'll have to see about NDuality. Maybe - but what are you quoting. I don't want to wade through the whole thing looking for it. No to Brad Warners blog, of course. Maybe on sweeping zen - they are cited elsewhere. Have to look at that source - but I doubt it can be the primary source.Tao2911 (talk) 17:37, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Browsing the NDM-article on "1992" gives the section. My proposal:

In august 1992 a group of 12 Zen teachers sent a letter to Maezumi Roshi,[web 1][web 2] asking Maezumi "to withdraw his [Merzel's] sanction to teach", and "stop him from teaching now, before he has the chance to cause more suffering".[letters 1]

Joshua Jonathan (talk) 18:29, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

My version:
In august 1992 a group of 12 Zen teachers sent a letter to Maezumi,[web 1][web 2] expressing dismay about Merzel's sexual relationships with a number of female students, his lack of remorse, and seeming inability to stop. They asked Maezumi to withdraw Merzel's sanction to teach; he did not do so.
I will double check sources, but I corrected your text. If you are ok with it, and your sources seem solid, I will add with your approval.Tao2911 (talk) 19:16, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
After "to stop", add "having sexual relationships with students" to avoid any ambiguity.
I don't mind to add the link to the letter itself as a third reference, but that's not acceptable? Joshua Jonathan (talk) 09:14, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
to your addition, no, in short. That is totally redundant. It says that earlier in the same sentence, all of about six words before! ADD is a problem, but I think most people can make it to the end of the sentence.Tao2911 (talk) 13:45, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
and again, I need a quote about Merzel from that Lachs interview you are proposing as a source. I am unable and/or unwilling to comb through that looking for reference to the letter. Also, it's a pretty iffy source - it's little more than Lach's blog from what I can tell. We still might be able to proceed using Sweeping Zen - which frankly is pretty iffy too (the guy who runs that is a bit clueless), but gaining prominence.Tao2911 (talk) 13:54, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
Here are two quotes:
  • "Also in 1992 there were some Zen teachers who asked Genpo’s teacher Maezumi roshi, to take back Genpo's permission to teach because of his womanizing and money issues, but Maezumi refused to do this."
  • "Here is the letter written in 1992 by a group of Zen teachers asking Maezumi to halt Genpo from teaching “before he has a chance to cause more suffering.”"
Joshua Jonathan (talk) 14:23, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
I don't know, that source is kind of weird. I don't know if it helps. Let's just stick with the Sweeping Zen article - I think we're covered there.Tao2911 (talk) 14:57, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
Okay. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 17:24, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

changed the dharma successors to the following[edit]

The following is the correct list sourced from dennis merzels page. unfortunatly you had people listed that dennis merzel had not given transmission to and you were missing several.

Dharma successors Catherine Genno Pagès (1992) John Shodo Flatt (1994) Anton Tenkei Coppens (1996), Zen River, The Netherlands Malgosia Jiho Braunek (2003), Kandzeon Sangha, Warsaw, Poland Daniel Doen Silberberg (2003) Nico Sojun Tydeman (2004) Nancy Genshin Gabrysch (2006) Diane Musho Hamilton (2006), Boulder Mountain Zendo Michael Mugaku Zimmerman (2006), Boulder Mountain Zendo Rich Taido Christofferson (2007) Michel Genko Dubois (2007), L'Association Dana, France Tamara Myoho Gabrysch (2008) Maurice Shonen Knegtel (2009) KC Kyozen Sato (2009) Judi Kanchi Warren (2010) Inka Transmission conferring the title of Zen Master on nine Zen teachers: John Daido Loori Catherine Genno Pages Anton Tenkei Coppens Jan Chozen Bays Charles Tenshin Fletcher Nicolee Jikyo McMahon Susan Myoyu Anderson Sydney Musai Walters Malgosia Jiho Braunek — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.10.251.86 (talk) 19:33, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

Sweeping Zen, Genpo Merzel Collection[edit]

Copied from User talk:Carrots9#Dennis Merzel

Please be so kind to explain your removal of this link diff & diff. I haven't seen the exlanation yet. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 18:36, 29 January 2014 (UTC) Sorry, I edited and forgot to describe the change. Seemed like an unnecessary link. Carrots.

"seemed link an unnecessary link". Interesting thought. What exactly makes Sweeping Zen, Genpo Merzel Collection an "unnecessary link"? You're probbably aware of the controversy around Dennis Merzel? Sweeping Zen is an essential site in this site, collecting and sharing info on his behaviour. You're aware of this? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 19:43, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
Given the controversy surrounding Dennis Merzel, and the basence of any further explanation, I've reinserted the link. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 08:05, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

Controversy[edit]

The whole controversy-section was removed, with the argument "it does not directly concern his notability as the founder of the 'Big Mind Process'." If being the founder of the Big Mind Process was his only claim to notability, this whole article could be deleted. His greatest claim to notability is the controversy surrounding him. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 17:56, 2 April 2014 (UTC)

I appreciate the feedback, but I do have to disagree with you. The premise of his notability is not for either of us to decide, but judging from his website and all material that he himself publishes the 'Big Mind Process' is the central theme. The notion of a Zen master creating a westernized process is unique and notable indeed which is grounds for a Wikipedia article even if that is his only claim to notability (which I never said it was his only claim). At painstaking length, I have read through the edits history of this article, and it does seem like you have a negative personal opinion of him which is perfectly fine. Opinions have no grounds in a biography of a living person for encyclopedic purposes like this article.
Here are some areas of the WP:BLP, which I assume you are familiar with, that lead me to believe that the section removal is appropriate. Feel free to comment and give your thoughts.
  • "All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be explicitly attributed to a reliable, published source, which is usually done with an inline citation. Contentious material about living persons (or, in some cases, recently deceased) that is unsourced or poorly sourced – whether the material is negative, positive, neutral, or just questionable – should be removed immediately and without waiting for discussion." - This is why I simply deleted instead of bringing it up for discussion.
  • "If you cannot find multiple reliable third-party sources documenting the allegation or incident, leave it out." - The Sweeping Zen is the only included source for this. It does not appear to even be a reliable source as it is sourced as a blog, which is not written by this article's subject.
  • "Never use self-published sources – including but not limited to books, zines, websites, blogs, and tweets – as sources of material about a living person, unless written or published by the subject" - The sources included are from Sweeping Zen blog, which is not a blog that is published by the subject. In the comments above there is discussion between you and Tao2911 about whether the Sweeping Zen source is even acceptable, and he indicates "We still might be able to proceed using Sweeping Zen - which frankly is pretty iffy too (the guy who runs that is a bit clueless), but gaining prominence. Tao2911 (talk) 13:54, 20 June 2012 (UTC)". A blog ran by one person is not a reliable source even if he is gaining prominence in the field.
  • "Many Wikipedia articles contain material on people who are not well known, even if they are notable enough for their own article. In such cases, exercise restraint and include only material relevant to the person's notability, focusing on high-quality secondary sources." - It does seem like he may or may not be a low profile individual. Better to err on the side of caution and grant more protection to the biography of a living person, correct?
Looking forward to your comments Joshua. Happy to work with you to get this article written correctly within the guidelines. Please don't simply revert without discussion as you have consistently done in this thread. That is a violation of WP:BLP guidelines, and would possibly require escalation. That prevents us from both being able to discuss and edit in the best interest of the article.
Fyi from WP:BLP -
Restoring deleted content
To ensure that material about living people is written neutrally to a high standard, and based on high-quality reliable sources, the burden of proof is on those who wish to retain, restore, or undelete the disputed material. When material about living persons has been deleted on good-faith BLP objections, any editor wishing to add, restore, or undelete it must ensure it complies with Wikipedia's content policies. If it is to be restored without significant change, consensus must be obtained first, and wherever possible disputed deletions should be discussed first with the administrator who deleted the article. Material that has been repaired to address concerns should be judged on a case-by-case basis."
FlashClairvoyance (talk) 22:09, 2 April 2014 (UTC)

Reply by JJ:

  • Assumptions about my attitude toward Dennis Merzel are not relevant; please refrain from such statements. They may be considered to be a personal attack, instead of a constructive discussion.
  • Eight different sources are being used, including two newspapers. The sources from Sweeping Zen are a bio, which you accepted as as source, and two open letters.
  • The controversy surrounding Merzel is definitely "relevant to the person's notability", having attracted worldwide attention, and resulting in two open letters from a large group of American Zen teachers, which have bene published by various magazines and websites, and to which the Kanzeon Board has responded.
  • Restoring deleted content: "disputed deletions should be discussed first with the administrator who deleted the article." You are an administrator?

Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:47, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

  • Let me just chime in here. "Negative" BLP material can be kept if it is reliably sourced. In other words, whoever removes it should address the sourcing. FlashClairvoyance has discussed only one of the sources, and there are some high-quality sources in here, notably those from Trouw (chances are I put those in, in 2011 or so). Of course negative BLP material must be handled delicately, but that doesn't mean a well-documented controversy (supported by comments from those who are directly involved--and in this case we don't really have to doubt that the critics' comments are represented fairly in the sources given) can be scrapped completely. "Controversy" is of course not a great title and that terminology is to be disparaged, but again, that's a matter of editorial judgment.

    Second, "The premise of his notability is not for either of us to decide, but judging from his website and all material that he himself publishes the 'Big Mind Process' is the central theme. The notion of a Zen master creating a westernized process is unique and notable indeed which is grounds for a Wikipedia article even if that is his only claim to notability "--this is simply incorrect. Such uniqueness is to be established through reliable sources, otherwise it's original research or, what I sense here, opinion. If such sources also (or, perhaps, mainly) report on controversy, then notability and controversy can go hand in hand. Unfortunate for him, perhaps, but that's the way it is. Drmies (talk) 18:33, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

As a neutral observer, just a word to say removing the well-sourced and thoroughly vetted controversy section would appear to be nothing but a biased whitewash. As an active participant in and observer of American Buddhism, especially Zen, I would assert Merzel is preeminently known now for the scandals and his response to them, much more than for his self-described "revolutionary" Big Mind Process - which might (or might not) be unfortunate, but not necessarily unwarranted. For instance, no other event or person has done more to unify a disparate Zen clerical community than when those unprecedented series of letters were sent to Merzel. It was big news, and has led to huge, rapid efforts to strongly encourage and clearly define firm, legally binding ethical guidelines in sanghas across America and Europe.Tao2911 (talk) 15:09, 5 April 2014 (UTC)


My apologies JJ, my comment was not meant as a personal attack. It was my interpretation from your comments throughout this Talk thread; an interpretation which does not belong here. As I explained previously, I removed the section with several concerns about content, sourcing, and whether the section holds merit to even be included. Please work with me here. Help me see where my concerns are inaccurate instead of writing them off as "biased whitewash" I will provide further detail on my concerns regarding some of the sources, but as an initial thought, Sweeping Zen does not seem like a reliable source. There has been discussion above about it, and while it may be prominent in the community, it is still a blog. Tao, I appreciate your insight as an interested and active participant in American Buddhism and Zen. Are the news releases you mention all included in the sources? If there are any others you can provide, that would be helpful. FlashClairvoyance (talk) 17:59, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

Several sources have been provided for each letter. What's more, Kanzeon Zen Center Board responded to the "44" and "66" letters. So, is there any doubt that those letters exist, or do you think that the controversy surrounding Merzel is a hoax? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 18:34, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
I really don't see why further explanation is necessary. Sources are extensive. There are newspaper reports. What is the problem? I actually almost feel moved to replace some info that was lost in recent edits.Tao2911 (talk) 20:25, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
I am not saying that the letters themselves do not exist, simply that they cannot be used as a source per se since they would be primary source. Also, I am not claiming that the controversy is a hoax, but we do need to have it fairly written and strongly sourced. Some of the sources will work, but the Sweeping Zen cannot be used as a valid source.
  1. One There is only one editor, which makes it an invalid source. No group oversight of the articles could lead to somewhat, even unintended, biased writing.
  2. Two Its sourcing is spotty. In the biography for Dennis Genpo Merzel, the entire "Disrobing" section is completely unsourced. This begs the question as to what is the opinion of the editor (Adam Ko Shin Tebbe) and what is fact. Sidenote - Is there evidence that Dennis Merzel actually disrobed? He indicated intent to disrobe and resign, but I don't think there is confirmation that he did either. If that's the case, this should be indicated in this page.
FlashClairvoyance (talk) 17:43, 28 April 2014 (UTC)
Get real. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 19:19, 28 April 2014 (UTC)
I am. What is the support of keeping Sweeping Zen as a source? FlashClairvoyance (talk) 19:51, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── It's only one of several sources. The info in the controversy-section is verifiable. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 07:48, 29 April 2014 (UTC)

PS: I guess you're also aware of the sources that are not being used in the article, like Brad Warner's comments, or this open letter. They are not included as a result of the Wiki-policies. Best regards, Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 11:11, 29 April 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for the additional open letter, always nice to read another perspective, particularly one so close to the subject. I have read some of Brad Warner's comments, most of which seem fairly negatively biased, but nevertheless interesting thoughts. I would have to agree that neither of these belong in this article.
Sweeping Zen is one of several sources, but it isn't one we should keep. It has many writers, but just one editor. I will try to find a replacement. FlashClairvoyance (talk) 16:00, 1 May 2014 (UTC)


"In February 2011, after admitting to three extra-marital affairs, Merzel said he would disrobe as a Buddhist priest, resign as an elder of the White Plum Asanga, step down as Abbot of Kanzeon, and stop teaching for an indefinite period to seek counseling.[news 8][news 9][web 5][news 10]" Anyone have an indication of which portions of the sentence are referenced by each of these sources? There are a lot of details included in this sentence and a laundry list of sources. Thanks in advance! FlashClairvoyance (talk) 18:14, 21 May 2014 (UTC)

Biography[edit]

Merzel had his first what he described as an "awakening experience" in 1971. I agree with your comment Joshua, "Is there an objective criterium - or even an objective "Ding an sich"?" The quotes indicate that is what he has called it, and this is why I removed the "what he described as". If there's a clearer, more objective wording let's go with that. Any suggestions? FlashClairvoyance (talk) 17:43, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

He had more? Anyway, if this is what he called it, then why did you remove it? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 19:18, 28 April 2014 (UTC)
The web #2 source(Big Mind Genpo Roshi bio) says that he had his "initial" awakening at that time, whether it was his only one or the first of many I cannot say. I think my wording wasn't clear enough previously: the quotation marks imply that "awakening experience" is what he called it, so including the words "what he described as" is redundant at best. It might be better to just remove the "what he described as" and drop the quotation marks. That gets rid of any ambiguity. FlashClairvoyance (talk) 19:51, 28 April 2014 (UTC)
I thought you were opposed against primary sources? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 10:46, 29 April 2014 (UTC)
Primary sources are likely to not be acceptable as sources under WP:BLP. It does, however, allow for material to be sourced from the subject's own website and/or blog. This is what the Big Mind bio qualifies as. This does come with the caveat that we may have to adjust some of the wording to be neutral in tone.
"Merzel had an awakening experience in 1971." - How about we go with that? It is concise, and neutral. The quotes or the words 'what he described as' convey a negative connotation, no? FlashClairvoyance (talk) 20:22, 29 April 2014 (UTC)
Okay, sorry for the rhetorics. I don't doubt that he had an impressive experience in 1971. My point is: what is an "awakening" "experience"? Is that the same as bodhi, kensho? And what's the value of such an initial experience? The Buddhist tradition asks for more than that. But when simply copied from his website, it serves his agenda of self-promotion, since it gives him credentials, while Wikipedia is not meant for advertisement. And, alst point, "awakening experience" is a typical western framework; see Mysticism#Mystical experience and Religious experience. So, no "awakening experience" apart from frameworks, interpretations and interests. Sorry, I've digested quite some stuff from Michel Foucault and the Frankfurter Schule. Best regards, Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 06:56, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for the additional clarification. My interpretation would be that the "awakening experience" would have been roughly the same as Kenshō, but we would have to find a source for that (which I currently don't have). We don't need to infer the value of such an experience either; whether it was his Kenshō or a "lesser" experience doesn't quite matter, correct? To your point, this does not give him credentials because, as you accurately said, the Buddhist tradition asks for more. Any credentials he has were earned during his tenure studying under Taizan Maezumi, he was given the title Rōshi and received Inka after all. The phrase "awakening experience" is general and even if it is a Western framework, that would be accurate.
Lastly, I completely agree that phrasing should not blindly be copied from his website, but it is a usable source if the tone is (or if we can make it) neutral. FlashClairvoyance (talk) 16:58, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
This "awakening experience" business is, as a Zen practitioner myself, highly highly suspect. I was the one who changed the phrasing originally from "he had" to (in effect) "he said he had", leaving any mention at all simply to placate those who had drafted this page originally as a commercial plug for their "Roshi." This is not an objective reality. It doesn't even really matter in Zen. Only certain sects give any weight to such purported experiences, including the one he was trained in (Sanbo Kyodan, which had an inordinate effect in American Zen compared to its influence in Japan, which almost nil; his Soto ordination is almost a non-issue. Maezumi unfortunately just ended up giving some Americans increased legitimacy because they had robes and shaved heads, though they don't actually practice Zen in the tradition in which they were ordained. Soto= no kensho; just sit. Sanbo Kyodan= push really hard, have psychological breakdown, call it enlightenment. An oversimplification of course, but gets the gist across.) If this mention isn't independently sourced, I don't see why it needs to be there at all.Tao2911 (talk) 16:13, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── See:

Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 06:10, 4 May 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for these materials Joshua. I will take my time reading through them for my own education, but was there a particular point you were trying to reinforce with them?
Tao, you may be right in that it could possibly be omitted, but I'm not entirely sure about that. Certain sects do give weight to this experience though, as you have said. One of them is the sect he was trained in, Sanbo Kyodan. The effect of this sect in American Zen is irrelevant to whether or not it should be included here. Reducing the "legitimacy" of Maezumi's students belongs neither in the article nor in this talk page (or anywhere on Wikipedia for that matter). This "experience" was a significant milestone in his life, it was the turning point that led him into the world of Zen. I'm sure there is a source out there. Thanks for the second opinion on the "awakening experience" issue. FlashClairvoyance (talk) 16:32, 21 May 2014 (UTC)

"Return to Teaching"/Empowerments[edit]

Just a note to clarify why I am removing this line. The source was primary, ie Merzel himself, not secondary or tertiary, and thus unconfirmed. There is a conflict, in that other stories/sources in the article confirm what I myself know to be true, that he never stopped teaching completely and has been leading retreats and workshops for the last 3 years. Also, he oddly uses the term "empowerments" which is not a Zen term, but a Tibetan Buddhist one. I assume he means he's ordaining students in his function as a Soto priest, but it hardly seems necessary to have this mention since the issue is somewhat moot anyway.Tao2911 (talk) 17:37, 17 May 2014 (UTC)

Fine. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 18:51, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
Primary sources are tricky, they can sometimes be ok under WP:BLP as long as they are by the subject of the article, correct? The conflict of the information with other sources is what really should be addressed. If all sources are acceptable and reputable, then both sides should be included with an indication that there is conflicting information about it. Either way, simply removing is not likely the best course of action. Regarding the word choice of "empowerments", if that's the term Dennis Merzel himself uses, then what right do we have to assume what he means and to insert another term in its place? Your assumption about what he meant with "empowerments" is not a valid reason to remove it. FlashClairvoyance (talk) 18:28, 21 May 2014 (UTC)
That is not why I removed it. As I said. "The issue is moot." He never stopped teaching or "empowering." Other sources say this. So I removed the contradiction. Primary sources are disfavored, especially when they contradict secondary sources.Tao2911 (talk) 22:45, 21 May 2014 (UTC)

Zen priest[edit]

You seriously believe that Merzel was ordained as a Zen priest in 1973, a year after he met Maezumi? Any notion about the Zen-curriculum? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 14:46, 21 May 2014 (UTC)

It doesn't matter what I believe, but it doesn't quite make sense to me either. I was just trying to update, on the BigMind site that is the wording, and I couldn't find a digital copy of the Ford book to compare to. Could you direct me to a digital version of that reference or would I have to track down a hard copy? Thanks. FlashClairvoyance (talk) 18:09, 21 May 2014 (UTC)
Google Books displays up to p.162, in Holland. No digital copy available, I'm afraid; but Ford says unsui (he doesn't even mention "novice priest", so if we were completely faithfull to the source, that would have to be removed). Dod you check Zen ranks and hierarchy? It gives a clear outline of the Soto-training ranks; which definitely does not start with ordination as a Zen priest. We could mention it as a note, though, but for anyone familiair with the Zen-training it will only add to the already existing picture of Merzel... Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 18:28, 21 May 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the pointer, I will check it out. I have looked at the Zen ranks and hierarchy, that's why it didn't make too much sense. Like I said, was just trying to update via copy from his website. We may have to just go with unsui. FlashClairvoyance (talk) 19:17, 21 May 2014 (UTC)
there is no fixed schema for this, folks. He may well have been ordained two days after meeting Maezumi - unlikely of course, but again, there is no rule until the teacher makes one; this was especially true in the "early days". Maezumi did all kinds of unorthodox things. He was about as unorthodox as it gets actually while remaining a Soto priest. So if there are good sources that give this date, stick with it until there is another one.Tao2911 (talk) 22:50, 21 May 2014 (UTC)
Well, Ford says unsui, Menzel says Zen priest. I tend to believe Ford, given Mensel's reputation and stakes. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:01, 22 May 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── He followed the zuise-ritual, but when was he officially ordained as an osho in the soto-lineage? Was he actually ordained as a soto-priest? Where did he do ango? That's suspiciously missing in the biography. Or was he only ordained in the Maezumi - Yasutani - White Plum lineage? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:35, 22 May 2014 (UTC)

These designations are almost all Rinzai - "osho" is not used in American Soto Zen. He is a priest! No doubt. Only priests can ordain, lay or priests. Maezumi was ordained as a Soto priest (in family tradition.) He trained in Soto temples, but also in the strictly LAY Harada/Yasutani (ie "Sanbo Kyodan", now "Sanbo Zen".) Some of his students were Soto priest ordained, but teach in the syncretic style that Maezumi developed. Others are teachers, but were not priest ordained. OK? Let's put this one to bed. He is a priest, without any question whatsoever.Tao2911 (talk) 20:19, 24 May 2014 (UTC)
From the text that I am able to preview in "Zen Master Who?" by James Ford, none of the mentions of Merzel or unsui coincide. Meaning, the text (that I can preview) does not say that Merzel was ordained unsui. Even if he was, an unsui is still a Zen Priest. If we don't have an actual line saying that he was ordained unsui, I'm going to switch it back to Zen Priest. FlashClairvoyance (talk) 21:42, 3 June 2014 (UTC)
p.166: "He was ordained an unsui by Maezumi Roshi in 1973 and received Dharma transmission from his teacher in 1980. He completed Zuise in Japan in 1981." An unsui is a novice, who's just started practice; dharma transmission and zuise are essential requirements in Soto Zen before one can become osho, "priest". To become dai-osho, resident-priest, one has to do ango, a prolonged period of monastic training. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 04:08, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

Controversy Relabeling[edit]

I relabeled the "Controversy" section to negate the unfairly negative connotation that the word 'controversy' has. Any other suggestions on wording? FlashClairvoyance (talk) 18:05, 21 May 2014 (UTC)

I relabeled but added your inclusion. That section does not just cover his resignation - it includes a series of events. From his first string of affairs leading to his leaving Maine, allegations of a second bunch, then his admitted third, very public round. "Controversies" is not too strong in this case - the sources bear it out.Tao2911 (talk) 23:04, 25 May 2014 (UTC)

Merger[edit]

So, I've merged "Big Mind Process" into this page. The only noticeable things about it are the harsh criticisms, the Big Money Merzel makes (or made?) with it, and one clinical trial. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 03:35, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

Undid the merger, combining them does not make sense. There already was more content than just criticism and a clinical trial. Let's try to build it out rather than condense and merge. Thanks in advance. FlashClairvoyance (talk) 16:46, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

Introductory Paragraph[edit]

The information in this paragraph is accurate, there is no reason to delete. The last sentence, even if we may not agree with it, is accurate. We could try rewording it to not appear as flattering. FlashClairvoyance (talk) 16:31, 10 June 2014 (UTC)

Oh please. the lead is supposed to summarize the article. It is WP:PEACOCK. If you want to expand the lead, you could write "Dennis Merzel is a controversial American Zen teacher who has repeatedly been criticised for his misuse of his role as a teacher." WP is not a free advertisement-medium. And read also WP:BRD. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 20:48, 10 June 2014 (UTC)

Sneaky[edit]

Sneaky: adding info, moving a large block downward, and making a little but essential piece of info invisible, without mentioning this in the edit-summary: [1] <!--Merzel was ordained as an unsui, or novice priest, in 1973.[1]--> - "Added sections and detail to biography". You're further losing credit here. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 19:59, 25 June 2014 (UTC)

I don't terribly appreciate the sneaky comment. I find it difficult to not take it as a personal attack, but I will assume it wasn't intended as such. Though I do appreciate the feedback about my need to be more comprehensive in my edit-summary. I left that text and source to not lose it, but I had meant to insert a replacement sentence. It seems that I didn't though. FlashClairvoyance (talk) 16:47, 26 June 2014 (UTC)


Cite error: There are <ref group=web> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist|group=web}} template (see the help page).

  1. ^ Ford 2006, p. 166.