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  Josh - Jitsudo here

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sat Nov 13, 2010 5:49 pm

Only recently discovered this forum. Most of you posting here won't know me since my involvement was so long ago.

I'm Josh (Jitsudo). Was with Kennett from 1969 until 1977. Met Kennett, Myozen and Mokurai when they were living in a small walk-up apartment in San Francisco, then lived in the temple/house in Oakland then moved up to Shasta. That early group included Jim Ford, Mark Strathern, Alan Florence, Steve Beck, Peter Norton.....

Am very grateful for the early 3-4 years with Kennett when things were simpler and cleaner. By 1975, my experience was that things were becoming increasingly stressful, cultic and emotionally toxic and brutal. Absolute obedience became the highest virtue and less and less Zen / Dharma was being lived or taught. So glad I followed my gut instincts and left when I did.

As noted by others on this forum, Shasta was not an easy place to leave. There was no exit door. No way to leave or take a sabbatical. Any one who left was demonized, shunned, rejected, negative stories were told over and over. Kennett could simply not bear being "rejected" or "abandoned." So all all of us who left around the same few years- were all demonized. Talk about guilt trips. Leave takers were killing the Buddha, creating terrible karma, and there were always dire predictions of what would happen to them out there, in "the world." Such total fear-mongering nonsense.

Will keep this first post relatively short. Fast forward. I just turned 60 years old. Live in New York City. Professionally, have had a long career in Public Relations - mostly representing non-profit organizations, foundations, environmental groups, but also entertainment, tech and media companies. I had my own firm in Los Angeles in the 80s, the was part of big PR firm, then headed PR at Microsoft for Bill Gates (an odd but amusing diversion), then moved to New York. I have been involved with many incredible and worthwhile projects -- from founding and doing PR for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation to promoting Al Gore and "An Inconvenient Truth." Handled special films and crisis communications for nearly all the major and independent movie studios and film companies. Now doing work in the area of green technology, next generation biofuels, electric cars, and so on.

Dharma-wise, got very involved with Tibetan Buddhism some years after leaving Shasta. I have helped the Dalai Lama -- with communications / PR for nearly 30 years now, managing the media for some of his trips to the U.S. -- just worked with him on a recent New York visit. What a joy that has been. He is an old friend. I handled the PR for the big visit of the 17th Karmapa when he came to the U.S. a few years ago (he is the young head of the Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism.). I have received teachings from many wonderful Tibetan lamas both in Asia and in the U.S. - most of my focus has been with the Dzogchen teachings - which are a bit similar to Zen in some ways.

I have written for Tricycle, the Buddhist journal (a longer version of my piece about Zen and War can be found on line) and also authored / edited a spiritual anthology - the new edition is called THE TAO OF NOW.

Still in contact with Alan Florence in Toronto, Peter Norton (i was just a guest at his table at a big fundraiser he chaired for a terrific non-profit theater company here in New York), talk to Stephan Burckhardt, and get Kyogen's newsletter.

You can find me on facebook - and if anyone here wants to be facebook friends, happy to connect.

There is a huge amount I could say about my experience at Shasta, insights and experiences after I left, but those will be for some later posts and will see how much is worth sharing. For me, Shasta seems like many lifetimes ago, thousands of dreams or nightmares ago. But it might be worthwhile for some people to hear more about the early days.

That's enough for now.

Warm wishes,

Josh


Last edited by Lise on Sat Nov 20, 2010 7:08 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : edits per original poster's request)
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sat Nov 13, 2010 6:01 pm

A pleasure to see you here. Remember your teachings with warmth. Think you may have also stayed in my log house in Vancouver for a retreat but you know, shaved head, black robes, and everybody melds into a distant common memory.
Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sat Nov 13, 2010 6:38 pm

Josh, welcome to the forum! I'm glad that you have joined us here. It has indeed been a few years since our ordination in 1970, at the house on Lake Merritt, in Oakland!
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:00 pm

Welcome to the forum Josh.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:49 pm

Hello Josh, and welcome from me too. I'm sure your name is known to many of our members through your work and through the tribal lore of the OBC. Thank you for joining, and I hope you will participate in any way you like.

I would be very interested to hear about the early days, if at some point you want to post about it. I encountered the OBC far too late to get a sense of what Rev. Kennett was trying to do initially -- my impressions were all formed around the dysfunction that brought many of us to this forum. I think most of the story of those early years has never been told, at least not here. It would be a benefit to have your perspective.

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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sun Nov 14, 2010 1:13 pm

Dear Josh,

You don't know me, but you're the reason I first went to the Abbey.

It was the spring of 1977. I had just recently learned about Shasta Abbey, and when I wrote to them to inquire about their practice, they sent word that one of their monks was going to be in Seattle at the University of Washington for a weekend workshop. I was couple of hours up north in Bellingham going to college there, so when that weekend approached, I went to the freeway entrance, stuck out my thumb and headed down to Seattle.

It was the weekend of my transformation! I was mesmerized by what you were saying. Every word felt so right and just what I had been looking for. I remember thinking to myself this must be what a true epiphany feels like. To this day I still remember that feeling.

Well, after the workshop, I went home that Sunday afternoon, quit school on Monday, got a job on Tuesday, gave away the rest of my pot (probably not til Friday), and in the fall I arrived at Shasta for the three month term. I was disappointed that you weren't there, but I figured if you learned meditation from these folks, I could too.

Looking back, I wished I'd heard the rest of the story! It's not until I became a monk that I noticed things didn't seem to add up. But by that time, I was already encroached in the culture that led me to believe I couldn't trust my gut anymore. And slowly my epiphany eroded into indoctrination and got swallowed up.

Well, I'm back on track. I will always be profoundly grateful to you for that weekend workshop, and it's wonderful to see you here. I hope you write more of your experience of the early days and what you saw happening. We're all rubbing part of the elephant, but the creature is taking shape with every perception.

Warm regards,
mokuan
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sun Nov 14, 2010 1:33 pm

I only know your name through Rev. Master mentioning you at tea. I think she truly missed you. This was in the 80's and 90's--you were in her conversation long after you left.
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sun Nov 14, 2010 1:42 pm

Jcbaran wrote:
Only recently discovered this forum. Most of you posting here won't know me since my involvement was so long ago.

I'm Josh Baran (Jitsudo). Was with Kennett from 1969 until 1977. Met Kennett, Myozen and Mokurai when they were living in a small walk-up apartment in San Francisco, then lived in the temple/house in Oakland then moved up to Shasta. That early group included Jim Ford, Mark Strathern, Alan Florence, Steve Beck, Peter Norton.....

Warm wishes,

Josh

Good to see you here Josh. We didn't get to talk at "the monks from hell" reunion, so it's nice to have another opportunity. I'll be interested to read your take on things RE the OBC. It seems like they've been trapped in a time bubble - people leaving Shasta Abbey (and other OBC affiliated temples) are relating essentially the same stories as those told in the 70's and 80's. I don't know that we can expect much from them, but it has been helpful to reconnect with others who have left to exchange stories and give reality checks. All the best...
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sun Nov 14, 2010 1:44 pm

I heard your name a lot too, Josh, first from Daiji at Throssel and then from Rev Master Jiyu. Good to hear from the real person at last!
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PostSubject: time bubble   Sun Nov 14, 2010 1:50 pm

the main value of this forum is for people who have left to digest their experience - since when you leave not only Shasta but other closed, insulated cultic organizations, you are suffering from spiritual / mental / emotional indigestion. And I know from my own experience, you need to share your experience, walk through it, understand it, and stop suppressing your inner voices and insights.

I would bet that this group is mired in the past, but i don't have any illusions about reaching them or getting anyone still there to see things differently.

Alan Florence and I talked about sharing stories from our time with Kennett in the mid-70s, accounts that I am sure have not yet been talked about. And I am sure would freak out the current crop of "Reverend Masters." But we shall see.
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sun Nov 14, 2010 1:55 pm

Josh, my very short time on here suggests that 'this group' is a very mixed bunch with myriad different motives....as I'm sure you'll find out! And I suspect the large number of lurkers are even more different, which is possibly why they don't contribute much.
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:09 pm

Hi, Josh,
I remember you well as you were the guestmaster when I first went on retreat at the Abbey in Dec. 1971. You also presided at my daughter's naming ceremony in 1976. I have followed your exploits at a distance through the internet. I would just add, that I'm not "mired in the past" but enjoy the contact with a few friendly faces from the past.
Be well,
Bill Ryan
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Fri Nov 26, 2010 7:55 pm

Hello Josh! I too remember you (as Jitsudo Baran) from letters you sent me in Colorado in the 1973 time period. Time flies! I was trying to do a zen practice with no local group and kept writing to Shasta seeking advice. You were one of those tasked to reply... Smile

I just discovered this site and many happy memories it does bring up for me.

I am so pleased with Rev Master Meian! I remember her from the kapok stuffing room in 1979 or so. She was so nice.

Hope everyone is doing well.
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Fri Nov 26, 2010 8:11 pm

OMG! I just read down all the posts and I see an "Isan"! Would that be Isan S. by any chance!? You wrote me too! I was Michael S. of Colorado Springs in those days! I corresponded with you and Jitsudo and Mokurai C. a bit while I was out in Colorado and then later got to the monastery physically in 1978. I rang the bell at the locked gate and a monk (the first I had ever seen outside Roshi Kapleau and Bodhin) came to let me in. It was Gyokuko K!

Good memories!
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sat Feb 05, 2011 12:14 am

Hello Josh. I'm glad you made it onto the forum. Your arrival and participation has coincided with my absence from this group. I see you have made a lot of posts in the interim. I'm not sure I'll be able to catch up, but I'll be interested in seeing what you have to say. I think you have a more jaundiced view of Jiyu Kennett and Shasta than I do. Perhaps we'll battle over that a bit, but welcome!

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:59 am

Very difficult when you say Josh had a more jaundiced view of kennett Roshi.
I read some things recently about Walter Nowick, and the writer was actually a little critical of Stuart Lachs, for not revealing more about,what happened with Walter. A lot was said simply by Soko Morinaga Roshi ,when visiting London, quietly saying Walter had not received Dharma Transmission . I think the feeling now is why protect a teacher, who not only reveals that they ,of course are human,but their behaviour has caused harm. They are very fine lines, I have told a couple of people here in private, my encounter with a drunken teacher, he may have been be funny, and lived his life in a non discriminatory way of right and wrong,but that is not licence to exhibit any type of behavior.when an example is being set and followed.
Josh has come across as quite fiercesome in his criticism, however, he has said and brought to the discussion a wide variety of issues that help us look at odd traits of behaviour,wrong ways of behaviour in 'teachers', I think people here on the forum have been able to examine their own experience, in a new light. For example if all of the lotus blossom years were told then,not just the acceptable parts, I do not think Shasta would have survived.As it is now, all the parts of that period, and Kennett Roshi's controlling behaviour,is avilable,now in its entirity for anyone who wants to see to see. At that period of time Josh,Gensho ,and Daiji were the Dharma heirs,the closest to the core and their version of a serious part of the history ,does help balance out the story.
I think also a difficulty has been hardened because we were not afforded,a proper leaving,a debate was not allowed,and we were not allowed to leave with dignity,,we did leave with dignity and honour,but the spiritual bow of leaving simply was not there
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sat Feb 05, 2011 3:48 pm

Hello Chisan,

Josh and I agree on Jiyu Kennett's flaws. I have no problem with naming them, and believe it should be done. Where Josh and I disagree is about her good qualities, and her dharma legacy. I don't think I have ever heard him say anything positive about her since he left. I think that while flawed, Roshi had some remarkable gifts. She was able to lead people to awakening and to identify it when it occurred. She also built one of the best monastic institutions in the west. The way it is structured is remarkable, and to my knowledge, unique. Abuses in leadership style seem to abound, however, and that is a real problem.

I also agree with Gensho in his appraisal of the way the Jinshin-do opened people up in positive ways during the Lotus Blossom period. It did go way off the rails, but it also recovered and remained a useful tool. The need for people to vent their anger over very real injuries is an important part of healing. Some of us, however, see the need to remember that there was more to it. Many of us who left acknowledge a profound effect our time there, and our relationship with her, had on us, and we retain much gratitude. When I express that to Josh, and I have over the years, he will try to convince me that it was not authentic. That's why I say his view is more jaundiced than mine.

So Josh, this is your introductory thread. You expressed some appreciation for the early years, with the enthusiasm and energy. But can you say anything positive about Jiyu Kennett herself? Is there anything positive in her legacy you can point to? I don't want to make you choke, I say with a big smile, but I really wonder if you can say something like that without choking!

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sat Feb 05, 2011 4:41 pm

I can not speak for Josh, However it did go off the rails,That may not be too much of a problem,but Gensho wrote,for me the most relevant post when he spoke of a sange thta nearly happened but did not. This is really what is needed not justby kennett but all of us
I would not know if kennett roshi produced one of the best monastic institutions, my opinion is she did not, I base this on the fact that Her next successor was asked to leave,and many peole took exception to various parts of the practice, I think Gensho did not stop his opinion when he said the Jin shin opened things up, he was also I think critical of it. and indeed called the experiences dualistic, and extraneous mind matter. I agree with this view.
Personally I left because I did not believe the path presented as dualistic visions and previous lives,would lead me forward on the path that I was on with Kennett roshi. I think a good religious institution should be judged ( if one wants to judge it ) on where it is at what has happened in the years since I left. If anything from the reports here of bullying ,and reports of Ekos behaviour,I personally made the right decision
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Kyogen

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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:09 pm

Hello Michael,

I realized when I posted that I would probably need to clarify what I meant by "one of the best monastic institutions." Certainly, institutions are made up of the people that inhabit them, and the qualities they embody through their practice. What I was getting at is the structure itself. That was something Roshi Kennett understood from her years in Japan the way a musician understands the structure of a piece of music. She created a Sodo, the first in the west, that functioned very well, with the various offices, practice forms, and schedule. If you just lived the life of the monastic schedule, you would learn a lot. It created a dharma atmosphere that worked. That's what I meant.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sat Feb 05, 2011 6:54 pm

Ah common ground, I agree the setting up of Shasta as you say I thought the same, It was very good,had excellent potential,and seemed to be moving in the right direction. This gave me inspiration to deepen my practice,and I felt I was part of a larger Soto Zen family or situation.
If we are going to compare,I have not personally seen a situation I felt was as good. The temples in japan,well certainly the ones I know about are very aware of the problems now, of taking a religious form and spirit to another country.
I hope to visit a temple in the west that,has done things very gradually,but is essentially Japanese. Also the temples in Japan are very aware of the unsuitability of westerners learning in their tight japanese ways.
I was and am very happy with my connection, in Japan, but it is a rare connection,as there was no verbal communication,or very very minimal.
This transition and our lack of experience in what is coming over ,caused a lot of confusion,and allowed iffy teachers to fool people,but full marks to all those that eventually realised that it was not the true dharma.
personally I would have put money on walter Nowick, he had been connected to Hakuin's temple,and he did come with a recommended stamp.
These things are very difficult to call, Ikko Roshi did say it was very difficult sometimes to say which was good or bad zen,what it comes down to is does it personally move one, in the direction one feels is right. At a certain point Kennett Roshi did,and I was in, then there came a point when she did not, and I was out.
The problem now is people have been hurt, I believe rev Mein is sincere in wanting to resolve the situation, and I believe she must try,whether you like it or not all this has blown up across the internet,and out of respect to everybody,from Koho Zenji and down to all of us, the right words have to be spoken,at the right time, hopefully that is now
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:10 pm

OK, Kennett's legacy and can I say something positive about Kennett herself.

Quite the challenge.

I certainly have said that the first 4-5 years there, it was far more positive than negative. Kennett did share her understanding, what she had learned, and I never doubted she had some true insights related to Soto Zen. Right, I am grateful for that.

However, as I have said here rather strongly is that she became progressively isolated, authoritarian, self-obsessed and quite confused, even lost. And for me, the "legacy" was overwhelmed by her extremely negative behavior.

Kyogen, you say, "She was able to lead people to awakening and to identify it when it
occurred." She lead people to awakening..... is that true? She was awakened? How awakened? Her behavior provide absolutely no evidence of that. Not what I saw. I am not suggesting she did not have some enlightenment experiences, but awakened? I question that.

We need to look at the whole "path" - the road she set down and where it lead. Where did it lead? How did people turn out in their daily lives? What kind of community did she create? How did these folks treat others? How did they live? Was this a kind, loving, mature, awake community? Apparently not. What was her legacy in terms of all of that?

As I was leaving Shasta, I looked at myself, at Kennett, at all the monks, and I thought, this was not a happy or enlightened place. Whatever THIS was, I did not want to be here. I had no desire to be like Kennett. No one seemed happy. In fact, when I left, nearly everyone was severely stressed out, guilt-ridden, blindly obedient, terrified of upsetting the guru, and so on.

Now, in terms of building "one of the best monastic institutions in the west." Hmmm. A monastic system does not exist in some vacuum, separate from daily life. This thought that Shasta was best is so odd to me that it doesn't compute. By 1977, the place was toxic, repressive, even cruel at times. Perhaps on some level it was well run, could be, but it is not something I think about. Not my job to give out gold stars for that.

As we have discussed here, the shadow of the guru / master / cult leader is lived out in the community. That certainly happened at Shasta. That was my experience.

There were many "real problems" not just abuse of authority. And the lack of self- awareness and psychological maturity made the place in the beginning, middle and end, not a healthy place to live or practice. Even if Kennett could bring some people to an experience, that didn't change the overall reality of daily life and the path that she lived and took people on. That path I left to save my life.

Now, I can say that going through the worst aspects of Shasta - those final few years -- YES, I am grateful for that. I learned a lot about how not to behave as a teacher, how communities can become ingrown and harmful, how people can get lost in their own illusions and dreams, how we go along to get along and how denying our inner integrity hurts, is a bad idea. I am grateful for Kennett's role in my growing up. Truly I am.

End of my rambling.
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:02 am

Spiritual experience isolated from psychological health becomes a mere dream within a nightmare. As more psychological dysfunction was created at Shasta over time, it was externalized as the condition of the world and considered a natural part of life that eggs one on the train harder. That the suffering was self- and organization-created was totally missed. It is a self enclosed, self perpetuating delusion that increases rather than decreases suffering. It is a way of not looking within disguised as wisdom. The amazing thing to me is that it seems to continue at Shasta these many years later, and most monks remain equally or more oblilvious to it. This is my impression from the general responses I've seen emanate from there.

PS Nice to see you back Josh.
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:06 pm

In answer to Josh and Henry, in my experience the problems were worse the closer you got to the center of the Abbey structure - to Jiyu Kennett herself. So, I can agree with just about all of the negative assessments of her flaws. And yet, you could even skate close to her and, if deft enough, avoid the worst of it for quite a while. I managed that for years, but eventually I had to get out, as most the others on this forum had to do.

During the time I was there, if you didn't find yourself in a bind with her, the monastic system worked very well. It seems to me that, over time, it got harder and harder to avoid those difficulties. I suppose the problem at the core worked its way out and through the system as seniors emulated the pathological elements residing there.

Still, I believe that quite a few monks within the OBC were less susceptible to this influence, and have resisted it. I hope those monks can muster the courage to address the issue. To do that, they must overcome the taboo against naming Jiyu Kennett’s faults.

I hope those of us who care about this lineage will be supportive enough of those in the OBC to encourage them to take this step. That is why I insist on bringing up the positive side of the ledger here, and in any conversation about the Abbey or Jiyu Kennett. Many people have benefited from the OBC, and I think, I hope, it can normalize and become a healthy part of the Dharma in the west.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:47 pm

Kyogen, well very said.

I see your points and I am sure that is true. I am sure there were ways to navigate those waters and get the most good you could out of it.... still, such an unhealthy place. And i think the process of the navigating is quite stressful and exhausting after awhile. I would assume that people do this in all kinds of religious institutions.
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:35 am

Ah, yes. Here we agree. I think the amount of scrutiny teachers and groups are subject to these days will only help.

K
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:27 am

Yes good to be possitive and remember the positive things.
this new thing with Gempo makes me also feel I question the whole of what he is doing and has done. Their practice was based on mu they all spoke it in the same way, and actually followed the same same benaviour patterens it was like religion on one own terms without consequence, which is all very well,but did not do anything for me. And clearly something not right now at the core.It is very difficult to balance alcoholism and real spiritual practice. At a certain point kennett roshi put herself above criticism and things went wrong,ultimately people were hurt.I keep coming back to the sange that Gensho felt did not arrive,if it had a strong order would have developed,based on the right things,compassion for other people for a start.The story of Amaloa is based on a complete lack of compassion, At that point I am definitly out
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:09 pm

Oh dear, this discussion is now over two months old...But it is such a valuable one that I can't resist and add my view.

Kyogen wrote:
[...]in my experience the problems were worse the closer you got to the
center of the Abbey structure - to Jiyu Kennett herself. So, I can agree
with just about all of the negative assessments of her flaws. And yet,
you could even skate close to her and, if deft enough, avoid the worst
of it for quite a while.
I managed that for years, but eventually I had
to get out, as most the others on this forum had to do.

Friends, I don't understand - why should one have to be deft to avoid the worst from one's teacher? Do I understand 'training' differently from some of you? If I need to be deft, and, presumably, dodge blows from the teacher (emotional in our case), where is the teaching, where is any meaningful relationship between the student and the teacher?
Yes, this kind of treatment can bring one to a very special, sacred experience. Such experiences are known to have taken place in prisons...Perhaps Mother Nature compensates one for the suffering and gives one this experience of grace, or whateveer one would call it.
For me, 'training' (if I would use the word at all) means embracing life, discovering the sheer beauty of it; discovering gratitude for all that is given, including my own nature which I did not create...Even discovering gratitude for 'ego', as that has its normal place in life - learning to be intelligent about it all; learning from my feelings of guilt, victimhood. I believe - feel it in my bones - that all these things, ego, fear, guilt, negativity, ill-will towards others, are not to be condemned, waving a fiery sword, slash, burn, kill (you get the picture). Condemnation doesn't help. It's better to look at it all - just look, and see - are those things helpful? If not, how can I stir my mind in a different direction, respecting the make-up of my mind, its history, its mechanisms.
There is nothing holy, lofty in this process. Did I learn this kind of approach from Roshi? No. Josh wrote elsewhere that she was a lonely, unloved person. As such I love her, and hug her, and wish her all the very best, wherever she is, if she still exists. And that way I can respect also her life's work - she did her best according to her lights. I don't want to sound patronizing (who am I!). Roshi had tremendous gifts, and she perhaps loved us, at times, in her own way. But the 'training' as she defined it (through her actions) was terribly flawed.
I would like to add, that there were serious problems way before the fateful years of 1976 and beyond. I left in the fall of 1974, and had plenty good reasons to leave (I never regretted it.) Josh, you also mentioned how abominably you were treated when you were ill in 1974, when there was a suspicion of a serious, possibly fatal illness. It appears Roshi got worse after 1976. You tell me so; I was gone by then. But the atmosphere of emotional terror was established before. How she taught the nicest of monks there behave like obnoxious, officious little monsters...
I did learn a lot from my stay there. How else? Doesn't life always teach?
Ol'ga
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:57 pm

O'lga in many ways you are quite right but to my mind it is very fine balance. If you were to reject a teacher just because they were fallible and human then there would be none left, they, and we are all fallible and human. What counts surely is can and do they help you on your way. Early in our journey the real problem arises because we are confused and our searching for truth can lay us open to exploitation and manipulation to their own ends by people purporting to help us and lead us towards the truth. When we find our way blocked by them we should leave but often we don't because we don't wish to have been had. The old confidence tricksters art, to trick you and then bind you in and make you complicit with your own ropes. Of course when you do leave you are disilllusioned, hurt and angry both with the trickster for tricking and yourself for being tricked and complicit. A real tangled mess that can take a lot of effort pain and time both to deal with and to come to terms with.
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Wed Apr 27, 2011 9:35 pm

Yes, Mark, I totally agree - it IS a very fine balance. One must give the teacher a certain benefit of the doubt, a fair deal of it. I don't expect the teacher to be infallible, even if I do have some difficulty accepting them talking some rubbish with a lot of authority, as though they knew everything. (In Indian culture, the teacher is listened to in this way, and it drives me batty).

In Roshi's case, I think what I could not tolerate was certain hostility, nastiness, bizarre, unaccountable accusations, unexplained punishments, humiliation. Perhaps different people respond to these things in varried ways. I had great trouble with it, it hurt like bleeding hell, and it stretched my trust in Roshi beyond a breaking point. Except for some rare but memorable moments when I felt Roshi did care about me, I felt I could not do anything right. Her behaviour to me was arbitrary, nothing was explained. This touches on a very deep topic, and I would like to discuss it here sometime. I don't believe the so-called ego is to be beaten out of one, despised. It is only to be seen for what it is, and understood how it functions. I perceive echoes of this 'yuck-yuck, ugly' attitude towards the 'ego' even on this forum. I think we are taught to force ourselves into this attitude. Christianity has it, the Old Testament has it and the Eastern thought has it. But it is not natural, and it is unhelpful. In the end it is contrary to truth. That's what I feel, after a lot of thinking - and I seem to have it confirmed in life. I don't force my conclusions on anyone, please don't think that. I only have great trouble seeing this self-flagellation, which misses the point entirely, I feel.

When I told Roshi I was leaving, there was hurt in her eyes. She was human, and I do love her for that.
Now I'll shut up, honest.
O.


Last edited by Ol'ga on Wed Apr 27, 2011 11:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Wed Apr 27, 2011 9:51 pm

Ol'ga asks, Friends, why should one have to be deft to avoid the worst of ones teacher (s) ?
and if this does indeed produce a very special sacred experience brought about in which "mother nature" compensates one for suffering by being driven into complete surrender of having come to the "end of ones ropes" , I would have to question the beneficence of "Mother Nature' and perhaps rather imagine this to be just a psychological state induced by extreme anguish?

A few days ago, there was a segment of "60 Minutes" on the monks of Mt. Athos, and a rare interview with some monks, picture taking was granted to the photographers. Mt. Athos is very selective as to who it admits, (many applicants from all over the world) but like a famous University, only the select few are chosen. It is the orthodox contemplative tradition and Mt. Athos has existed and "survived" many onslaughts, dating back to the Byzantine. Silence, contemplation, purification are used in that tradition to approach "GOD" and some monks spend years in contemplation without much or any outside contact and are quite "happy" and would never want to leave. That inner "state of grace" or whatever name you want to give this, does not necessarily need to be brought about by methods such as are employed by "Zen Masters", but can come about by simple silence and contemplation of the self, over time and devoted sincerity. The Desert Fathers have done it, the Sufis in their way, American Indian traditions, in another way, and so on. one method does not fit all. Those who chose Zen as taught in the tradition of this Order, will in one way or another need to put up with a certain amount of "rigor", yet as I once was told by my teacher, situations are never artificially brought about, they arise naturally and are then "made use of" by the teacher. So, if one feels that the "Zen Master" is yet employing his likes and dislikes in this game" or uses other methods that are questionable, as one sees it, well, then perhaps the only way out may just be to leave, as many here have done.
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:30 pm

See the movie "Of Gods and Men" for another inspirational look at dedicated monks who were humble, compassionate, and brave.
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sat Apr 30, 2011 11:38 am

I didn't see the "60 Minutes" feature on Mt. Athos, nor have I seen "Of Gods and Men," but even without seeing them I still know that each is a carefully edited presentation, fulfilling the vision of the director, producers, sponsors, etc. All the monks therein may well be what they purport to be, and then again important material may have been left on the cutting room floor. In The Last Intellectual Russell Jacoby says that the most dangerous development of the 20th century was not something like communism or the atom bomb--it was sophisticated marketing techniques. Tough to know these days the "truth" of what we're being told or shown. Photoshop and CGI can make anything "real." I'd be more certain if I could spend a couple of years living at Mt. Athos, but they won't return my calls.
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PostSubject: Re: Josh - Jitsudo here   Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:17 pm

good point about marketing -- since i am in pr biz, know this well.

Also, what happens even more often is that the filmmakers / journalists already have a story in their head well before they write or shoot the piece. And they see what they want to see and their subjects often go along with it. People rarely share their dirty laundry is the narrative is about how holy they are.

A good example is the recent essay by Stuart Lachs. worth reading.
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