Mel Mathews: Having recently published one of your collections of poetry, The Song Less/on (il piccolo editions), undoubtedly I am a big fan of your work. However, today I'd like to learn more about your just published Phantom Buddha (Alba Books). Why the title: Phantom Buddha?
MM: How long has Phantom Buddha been in the making?
ACH: I began to write Phantom Buddha decades ago but, for one thing, the painful nature of the experience made postponing and rewriting a matter of many years. The fact that my wife, Barbara McCauley Cardona and I, have started our own publishing firm, made me abandon any doubts and complete the work.
MM: What impetus fueled the writing of Phantom Buddha?
ACH: Phantom Buddha is essentially an expose of a man who has recently been exposed in the Buddhist community and by the New York Times for the moral fraud that he is. Zen is the clearest, most demanding, and most subtle paths to personal liberation that exists, and there is absolutely no room in it for scoundrels such as Joshu Sasaki who takes advantage of the cupidity of female students.
I was able to overcome my initial disappointment and went on to study with Prabhassa Dharma Roshi, who some 14 years ago, before she died, named me a sensei, or teacher.