Saturday, 3 March 2012

Tasteless Scandal Rocks Zen Center

A scandal yesterday erupted which will strike at the very heart of American Zen, as it was revealed that one high-profile Zen teacher had forced his students into tasteless acts. A special investigative committee, headed up by  John Korogi McGinnigey Roshi, was dispatched to the Riverpinestone Bay Zen Center. "When we went in, we were shocked by what we found. The first hint was a brightly-coloured zafu just laying there in full view. It had a polka-dot pattern on it. Further in, and we found that someone had put up chintz curtains and one of those magic-eye posters. Later I heard if you stared long enough at it, you'd see 3D unicorns. I'm trained, but nothing I'd seen previously had prepared me for this." As the team continued, further horrors came to light: "Instead of raked sand, a barbecue pit", a sobbing investigator relived his experiences, "everywhere, those solar-powered garden lights with dragonflies on them." The main zendo had become a monument, an altar one might say, to tastelessness: statues of cheerful, human-looking dogs in a variety of sports outfits, little miniature houses that light up from inside, and a host of other items best described as "knickknacks" were found therein. Incense holders were replaced by cloying "plug-ins".
One of the students of the renegade Zen teacher spoke out, "It'll take me some time, and a good deal of counselling, to get the scent of "Ocean Coast Stroll" out of my nose. It had started innocently enough, I suppose, when Roshi said one day "You know guys, I've had it up to here with all these artfully arranged Japanese interiors, what say we go a bit cosy for a while?"  Another student spoke out: "You know, it seemed to make sense at the time. Everything was too tasteful. I suddenly felt like I wanted to kick back, pull on some polyester sports trousers and watch television. Roshi had such...a charisma about him, he could convince you of anything."
The Riverpinestone Bay Zen Center before the tragedy
Other students said that they had a bad feeling when posters featuring "spiritual" quotes and stock-image photos had started appearing on the walls. The Zen teacher himself was tracked to his home in nearby Cedar Bay, and taken in by the authorities. His tasteful neighbours had no idea who they'd been living next to all this time: "We knew he was a Zen teacher, so we never doubted his tastefulness. I mean, he had a real skill for it: the things he did with a simple throw, cushion and single-flower vase could bring a tear to the eye. But I guess, you don't really know people as well as you think."
Asked if he had any comment, the shamed teacher offered this, sporting handcuffs and a T-shirt with airbrush-style pictures of Native Americans on it: "I was living a lie. Polished wood and plain walls really get me down .  And does everything have to be brown, black and grey? I mean what about the rest of the spectrum? I'm fifty-five years old, and I've had enough of living in what looks like an Uptown Manhattan sushi joint. And if I have to look at one more piece of calligraphy I think I might just...." He was led away before he could finish the comment. The teacher will face up to three years of Interior Design Therapy, and be subject to a court order imposing a tonal colour scheme on him for the next eighteen months.

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