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 Hi from John Bevan

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John Bevan

Posts : 1
Join date : 2018-01-10

PostSubject: Hi from John Bevan   Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:46 am

I was never a "member" of OBC or Shasta Abbey nor was I associated with them in any way. My connection to Shasta was quite accidental - I was looking for a PDF of the Shobogenzo online and Shasta Abbey was one of the first hits on Google. I quite like that translation, though the Nishijima/Cross translation is pretty good too (though it has a ton of problems!).

I looked around on the web page and bumped into the Abbess Kennett. I listened to one of her talks and immediately disagreed with her. "Buddhism is a religion," she said and, after listening to many more talks, I decided that she is barely a Buddhist let alone an Abbess in a monastery she created!

I read the "Is the OBC a cult?" forum entries and found a lot of interesting points of view, especially the posts about what a "cult" is. In reality, pretty much everything is a cult. We can't help it - we are indoctrinated in every way into the belief system we choose to live with inside ourselves. And that, of course, finds its way outside in many ways: writing, speech, actions, etc. I was introduced to Buddhism when I was 16 (I'm 65 now) by reading books such as "Buddhist Scriptures" by Edward Conze. Aside from certain concepts - such as reincarnation, with which I do not agree - I came to the "conclusion" that Buddhism is a down-to-earth, common sense way of looking at the world and makes a lot of sense. I had been meditating since I was 8 years old (because I got involved in the martial arts, the first lesson of which was disciplining the mind), so meditation was not a "mysterious" topic as it was to most of the people with whom I associated.

I believe that Kennett was a woman who wanted to find a way of giving women a voice, especially in matters of religion which was her particular interest. I found a PDF copy of David Kay's very good book entitled, "Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain" and paid particular attention to the section about Kennett. Kay does not paint her in a good light at all - not, apparently, due to a personal (or other) bias but using Kennett's own writings and conversations.

Sorry this introduction is so long. I'm from Cardiff (S. Wales) and have been living in the U.S. since 1977. Perhaps I'll go back to Wales when I retire.
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Posts : 207
Join date : 2010-06-11
Location : New Mexico

PostSubject: Re: Hi from John Bevan   Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:11 pm

Hello John,
Your post brought up some things for me. I’ve been thinking about OBC Connect a lot over the past few months. I don’t know if you’ve been following the news about the #MeToo movement here in the US, but there is a movement happening now where women are speaking up about sexual harassment and abuse. I have to say, I believe that this forum was created from the same seed; it was created as a forum for those who felt abused and it gave those of us who felt abused a voice. Some of us paid a heavy price for telling our stories, but ultimately, it did bring change and that’s the most important thing.
I have been a part of telling this story, but am happy to report that the story has had a very happy ending for me. This year is my 20-year anniversary for taking the precepts at Shasta Abbey and although it has been a rough road, I’m eternally grateful for everything I have learned along the way. I’m am grateful for Jiyu’s training and life-long work. I greatly admire her for persevering through her own experiences of abuse that she went through in Japan- a male dominated power structure. It’s interesting that the things she fought against were unfortunately carried through to her successor. But because women (and men) spoke up, the OBC was able to see that there needed to be ways to insure safety and protection for everyone. I hope that over time, compassion and loving-kindness has prevailed and the policies and procedures necessary have been developed to insure equality and safety.
I know Kay was biased about Jiyu and yes, the OBC is a new religious movement, or cult. But like you said, every religion practiced today can be viewed as a cult. We originally argued the point as a way to operationalize the behaviors and actions that we experienced; there were definitions and guidelines already in use that helped to identify abuses of power. The OBC is not the only Buddhist organization that has had to confront this issue and many people do not realize this. Those that have spoken out against these abuses have paved the way for healing and I truly hope that that is what has happened.

I should say, that I don’t know what is happening with the OBC currently. I am hopeful that everyone is in a good space. My own anger and negative feelings about what happened to me have burned out and I’m left with gratitude and loving-kindness.

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