Washington, D.C. (November 13, 2013)—The Atlantic Books, the digital imprint of The Atlantic, today released a new e-book, The Zen Predator of the Upper East Side, by Mark Oppenheimer. Featuring exclusive reporting and interviews, the book is a powerful true story of secrets and sexual exploitation perpetrated under the guise of religion—and a cautionary tale of the dark side of Zen in America.
Nearly 50 years ago, a Zen Buddhist monk—fleeing a cloud of suspicion—arrived in Manhattan, penniless and alone. Eido Shimano would quickly build an unrivaled community of followers: Zen students he culled from the heights of New York society to form arguably the most prestigious Japanese Buddhist organization in the country. Authors, entertainers, and scions of vast fortunes, all questing for spiritual enlightenment, flocked to study and live in his spacious compound. But always there were whispers that things were not what they seemed.
For decades, Shimano preyed on the women who studied with him at the Zen Studies Society, seducing a multitude of them into affairs that only recently prompted his ouster. Through exclusive interviews with Shimano—who rarely speaks publicly—and current and former ZSS members, Oppenheimer reveals how Shimano’s behavior was tolerated by many in a religion that has no prohibition against promiscuity or adultery. With sexual-abuse allegations against Zen leaders in the U.S. now stunningly common, The Zen Predator of the Upper East Side examines a dangerously complicated corner of the tradition—and shows how aspects of Buddhist practice may actually facilitate abuse.