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 Kennett and Meditation

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Kennett and Meditation   Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:26 pm

From 1969 until 1977 - the first seven years of Kennett's time in America, I never saw her meditate for more than 10 minutes. Ever.

When she came to the Zendo, she would arrive towards the last few minutes of a meditation period, sit in her chair for barely a few minutes and then ring the bell and begin the service / chanting. Other than those few minutes, she never came to the zendo to sit a meditation period. NEVER.

Also, I never saw her meditate in her room privately and we and the other early senior monks were with her most if not all the time. She never went on any private meditation retreats. (In fact, she was almost never alone - I don't think she could bare being alone. She always needed an audience and to be the center of adoration).

I would say categorically that Kennett was NOT A MEDITATOR. She didn't like to meditate and probably was not particularly good at it. She just didn't do it. I know this is an odd thing to say of someone who was supposed to be a "Zen Master" but that's my experience.

I never saw any evidence that she had any great depth of meditation experience, or had much experience of deep states of samadhi or the jnanas. Maybe during a few sesshins in Japan,but nothing I ever saw.

My sense that for her meditation was painful and she associated it with the tough sesshins at Sojiji where he knees swelled up and they beat the trainees with sticks.

Also, I am not sure that she had any significant meditation practice in England before she traveled to Japan. Yes, she studied some Buddhism and was involved with the London Buddhist Society, but many of those kinds of groups were more focused on philosophy, art and history than meditation or practice.

I wonder, did she think that once she had her kensho experience in Japan meditation was no longer necessary or useful? Did she think that meditation is only about arriving and she had someone arrived?

In terms of meditation instruction, years after I left Shasta, when I started studying with some great Tibetan Lamas -- many of whom had spend decades in meditation retreat - and I became friends with many top Vipasanna teachers, it was clear to me how terribly SHALLOW Shasta's meditation instruction was. In those contexts, I saw what Kennett taught to be a one trick pony - simple instructions with no real depth of experience.

What do others think?
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:46 am

It's such a weird experience when YOU'RE meditating more than your master or teacher! When I went back to the Abbey, I had an exchange with Eko in a public discussion and I had just got back from some teacher training. He was talking total nonesense and everyone in the room seemed like they were in a trance. It was so obvious to me! I was the only sane one there, I swear! But he knew when he looked at me, which is why he avoided looking at me, that I was the only one who hadn't drank the kool-aid that day and I was the only who wasn't buying it.

I don't know if Eko ever meditated, but I know that teachers tell their students to do things all the time that they themselves do not do. No wonder Jiyu was so far off. And for me, I think the meditation instruction and practice at the Abbey is the worst I've seen in all the groups I have associated with since. For me, I have to do Vipassana in order to stay grounded and not "go off." I tended to trance out in Zazen they way they taught it; it was really more hypnosis than meditation. And, oh, I can already hear the keys clicking away by all the Zazen pratictioners out there..."if you were tranced out, you were doing it wrong," blah blah blah. Well, I can say, that unless you have practiced Vipassana for 5 years and studied with a good teacher, and have REALLY let go of that elitist, pompous, Zen mind of yours, that you have no right to comment.

The more I learn about Jiyu, the more I understand Eko, and the more I think the OBC has completely misunderstood Buddhism and meditation.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Wed Dec 01, 2010 2:54 am

Well josh as you know it was not for me,I wanted to practice Soto zen and zazen,It is very difficult to keep practice going after such a shock of the Jesus era. Like you i saw different groups etc in America and other places, and continued sitting with Bill.I was very fortunate to go to Japan, and good karma took me to an excellent temple very well respected teacher.The main thing I learnt was self reliance in a positive way. The temple was not reflected at all in the places I had seen including Shasta,I cant truthfully comment on kennetts time in Japan, as I was not there with her. Her experience of horror of meditation and beatings was not what I saw. It was tough,especially for a westerner, the sitting formally on floors during talks , informal tea and formal tea ceremonies were difficult. I remember the abbot looking at me with admiration as I was struggling to stand uo once. I accepted it as the whole practice helped me enormously, I even accepted the tradition of the temple, that it was constant it ground on and on, the practice was the same all the time. I accepted it because it worked for me. I was the only westerner, so may be it did not work for anyone else.
The Abbot did meditate with everyone, it was part of the practice and teaching, seeing his prostrations, and devotion to the way I was lucky I sat just about opposite him. It was a two way thing I met a very spiritual man and he pointed the way for me. I have to say that since my time with him, I think I have always known the right way to go, I have always known what right practice is, and I have to admit to you and everyone, I have not always done it
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:46 am

Hey Diana
Your post
For me, I have to do Vipassana in order to stay grounded and not "go off." I tended to trance out in Zazen they way they taught it; it was really more hypnosis than meditation. And, oh, I can already hear the keys clicking away by all the Zazen pratictioners out there..."if you were tranced out, you were doing it wrong," blah blah blah. Well, I can say, that unless you have practiced Vipassana for 5 years and studied with a good teacher, and have REALLY let go of that elitist, pompous, Zen mind of yours, that you have no right to comment.

OK OK I know my string is getting pulled here but I can't believe that you are meaning to say that your meditation is the truth, the light and the way? That one type of meditation is superior to another type. Perhaps you are just meaning to criticize the way Jiyu taught it...but it sure is sounding elitist, pompous and a lot like the way it was taught at the Abbey.
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:34 am

Just a thought....

"If relatively advanced practitioners meditate regularly for a few hours regularly daily, they will naturally remain clear and stable throughout the day. When such people engage in everyday activities and mix with others, it will be easy to maintain an open and serene mind. However, real accomplishment in Chan (Zen) - real freedom from defilements (kleshas) - will maintain itself spontaneously throughout all circumstances, without the need for a specialised environment or deliberate efforts at meditation. If ones practice lacks this self-sustaining power when the regular supports for Chan practice are suspended, then ones goal has not been reached." - Master Sheng-yen, Hoofprint of the Ox
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:10 am

Kennett was NOT an advanced meditation practitioner. Even the most advanced practitioners in the Tibetan and Vipassana traditions are very devoted to sitting meditation. For their entire lives.

And Kennett was NEVER a meditator. and the quote above is lovely, a nice story, and has nothing to do with what I directly experienced with Kennett. and what will be confirmed by others. She certainly did not maintain an open and serene mind. Her daily life was perfectly ordinary, reactive, often annoyed and gossipy, sometimes angry. No special Zen here.

What the Tibetans call the advanced state of non-meditation is realized after truly in-depth long-term practice that still includes daily sitting practice and other spiritual practices, and a deep connection to sitting.
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:28 am

:-) Hi Josh

I know nothing of Kennett's daily life, so can't comment there.

Concerning sitting meditation, past a certain stage of training, the jhanas become simply "pleasant and peaceful abidings". (That's not to say one shouldn't enjoy and practise them!) Also they help hone psychic skills.

Do you know why the Tibetan and Vipassana practitioners that you referred to are "very devoted to sitting meditation"? (This is not a rhetorical question.)

I have to buzz off to the shops now but I'll look in later.

Cheers
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Iain

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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:28 am

Jcbaran wrote:


And Kennett was NEVER a meditator.

What you write is palpably false.

How could RMJK have trained for four years following the daily schedule in a Japanese Zen seminary, been transmitted as a teacher and NEVER meditated?
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Watson
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:53 am

Iain wrote:
Jcbaran wrote:


And Kennett was NEVER a meditator.

What you write is palpably false.

How could RMJK have trained for four years following the daily schedule in a Japanese Zen seminary, been transmitted as a teacher and NEVER meditated?

Plainly read, Josh's previous posts in this thread show his remarks to be in the context of the seven years he observed Rev. Kennett directly. His comments do not say she never meditated in Japan.

Thank you.

Watson
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Iain

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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:04 am

Watson wrote:


Plainly read, Josh's previous posts in this thread show his remarks to be in the context of the seven years he observed Rev. Kennett directly. His comments do not say she never meditated in Japan.

Thank you.

Watson

Sorry but I did read the thread carefully and I don't agree with your interpretation.

The author made the second statement in response to the separate and later comment by Anne. He did not qualify it in the way that you suggest, and he clearly states in this entry that she was NEVER a meditator.

If he now wishes to qualify that second assertion in some way he is at liberty to do so himself.

Thank you

Iain
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:35 am

I trust he will do. I am not quite finished however, as that is something of a contortion you put on poor Josh's text.

Below are bits pulled out (emphasis mine) noting her meditation in Japan.


Jcbaran wrote:

I never saw any evidence that she had any great depth of meditation experience, or had much experience of deep states of samadhi or the jnanas. Maybe during a few sesshins in Japan,but nothing I ever saw.

My sense that for her meditation was painful and she associated it with the tough sesshins at Sojiji where he knees swelled up and they beat the trainees with sticks. ...

Also, I am not sure that she had any significant meditation practice in England before she traveled to Japan. ...

Thank you.

Watson
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glorfindel

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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:00 pm

Jcbaran wrote:


And Kennett was NEVER a meditator.

That statement begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop. It's a sentence with no qualifying clauses. This, along with the capitalisation of the adverb, would imply an attempt to suggest...well...exactly what the sentence states, in ADDITION to the statements made about Matron Kennet's post Japan life.

EDIT: I ought to respond to the thread while I'm here. Why are peeps so caught up in whether or not other people meditate? And why be so concerned about other people losing their temper etc? I don't see a teacher as some kind of magical orb that emanates truth. To me a teacher is someone who gives me some information that I can use for myself. So if I'm meditating with a bunch of people it doesn't matter so much if the others are doing it alot or not. And if someone, teacher or otherwise, really annoys me or does something I think is dodgy then I will tell them. If this causes a problem then I will leave. There is no lingering problem. Once during an FWBO retreat I publicly challenged an Order Member for practicing Therapeutic Blasphemy (one of those fwbo things) when everyone knew there was a Christian on the retreat. The whole community turned on me. There was no lingering problem. So many people on this forum seem to have lingered in a place they didn't want to be for so long. For too long! And then they whinge about it decades later! What's that all about? Do buddhist need to grow a set of collective balls?




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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:22 pm

Anne wrote:

Concerning sitting meditation, past a certain stage of training, the jhanas become simply "pleasant and peaceful abidings". (That's not to say one shouldn't enjoy and practise them!) Also they help hone psychic skills.

Cheers

Well, I will post my own equally unverifiable assertion regarding Jiyu Kennett and meditation, which is she most certainly did practice meditation. Since when is meditation limited to what happens when you sit on a cushion? The teaching of Zen and Buddhism in general is mindfullness, which can be practiced at every moment regardless of circumstances. Jiyu Kennett intentionally did not place too strong an emphasis on zazen practice at Shasta Abbey because she did not want people to injure themselves as she was injured. Except during Sesshin zazen at Shasta was limited to one period in the morning and one or sometimes two periods in the evening. Much of the rest of the time was devoted to the work of literally building the community. There is an element of service in the practice of all religious traditions and at Shasta we worked and gave of ourselves freely. That was a very valuable experience for me and not separate from meditation.

It was perfectly obvious why Jiyu Kennett did not practice meditation sitting on a cushion - she was diabetic and overweight, and literally could not have sat down on the floor and gotten up again by herself. In her diary she stated she had been beaten with the kyosaku so badly once during meditation (in Sojiji) that she had to be taken to the hospital. It was clear that her health was damaged and while she tried over the years she was never able to fully recover.

I observed her practicing meditation sitting in her chair in her room everyday, while the rest of us milled about. There were many levels of awareness in the group surrounding her, and we got what was going on there (or didn't get it) in our own way. I realize that it is easier for some to simply label Jiyu Kennett a fraud in every respect, but it hasn't been so easy for me. I've needed to take the more complex and messy view that she was a sincere Buddhist monk who did practice meditation and the Buddha Way while having serious personality problems which ultimately made her unfit to lead a community. It is simply dishonest to not acknowledge the good along with the bad. The need to indiscriminately tear her down at this point seems quite vindictive, and it's hard to see what good it serves.
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Wed Dec 01, 2010 1:07 pm

Isan wrote:
Jiyu Kennett intentionally did not place too strong an emphasis on zazen practice at Shasta Abbey because she did not want people to injure themselves as she was injured. Except during Sesshin zazen at Shasta was limited to one period in the morning and one or sometimes two periods in the evening. Much of the rest of the time was devoted to the work of literally building the community. There is an element of service in the practice of all religious traditions and at Shasta we worked and gave of ourselves freely. That was a very valuable experience for me and not separate from meditation.

It was perfectly obvious why Jiyu Kennett did not practice meditation sitting on a cushion - she was diabetic and overweight, and literally could not have sat down on the floor and gotten up again by herself. In her diary she stated she had been beaten with the kyosaku so badly once during meditation (in Sojiji) that she had to be taken to the hospital. It was clear that her health was damaged and while she tried over the years she was never able to fully recover.

I observed her practicing meditation sitting in her chair in her room everyday, while the rest of us milled about.

Thank you, Isan, for that clarification.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Wed Dec 01, 2010 2:06 pm

I deeply appreciate your words, Isan.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Wed Dec 01, 2010 3:44 pm

I too appreciate your words Isan. To call RMJK a fraud (which I found very painfull) is to surly almost invaladate the experiances of all who followed her.She is worthy of so very much more than that. I have never been deeply intrenched in the closeness of monks, and have never had cruel painfull and repressed experiances from them that a lot of you have, but the ongoing knocks of life and the opening up friom within to the effects of meditation have served that purpose equally well for me. I never met RMJK but what she taught was passed on to me some 24 years ago as a lay person in the UK. I make no claims to deep spiritual maturity but how I was then to how I am now is the difference, she helped me start the process of cleansing my own heart. And for that I truly thank her, worts and all.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:16 am

Isan the bit you say at the end about not recognising the good as well as the bad and not tearing kennett to pieces. I do agree with you. It is a very very fine line. I am quite happy to stand up and say I benefitted from knowing Jiju kennett,my practice benefitted a lot from her. I do not know if we met,but Mark Josh and Alan would tell you I would not want to hurt anyone.
However we do all have our story to tell,I woke up in the middle of the night a few months ago with a feeling that something had happened with Eko and contacted Josh, and Mark who was in America,Josh digged around and told me of this site.
We all have a story to tell we have told our individual story ( not planned )together, it is a good thing,as in the past we have been shouted down and discredited. I think it is important to know the story so new people,can hear about Jesus Bodhidarma, and make clear decisions.I think that there is a lot of pressure,some of which we put on ourselves to tow the party line, to not tell nasty stories. Josh with his sorting it out most probably helped people over a bridge to look and break self imposed restraints at looking truthfully at what they beheld important .
I was lucky I simply carried on sitting with my friend Bill Picard and very lucky to go to Japan, but they wanted to know who I was and what I was doing,and I got very good advice.
When Bill died He wanted me to write his story which I have done I have struggled for about 2 years with what to say abou this period of 76 I did not want to say anything that would be hurtful or do harm, I have talked to a lot of people of course Mark do I tell it as it was do I mention Jesus what do I say,I am at the same time witing a tribute to the Abbot in Japan and I want to be careful what I say. In some ways it becomes easier now, that there has been this surge of openness.Also Daiji and Gensho, have not really had a chance to voice their view, when they have been so badly (especially Mark)
discredited.The article I wrote the 35 year old letter was saying horrible things about Mark and sent to every known Buddhist in England. He must have and has had his say.
In another time I would like to have told you about when I played guitar on tele live from a recording studio and raised thousands of pounds for victims of the Bali bomb at the Sari club,I would liked to have told you funny stories from my time in Japan. It is painful a lot of the articles, and now Gensho will tell his story,which too will be painful but true. You are right though ultimately we must treasure and respect all things,but balance it somehow with our right to speak out and speak the truth
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:07 am

john wrote:
To call RMJK a fraud (which I found very painfull) is to surly almost invaladate the experiances of all who followed her. .

Claims about Jiyu being a fraud or psychotic do not invalidate experiences of those who followed her. There are stories in the Buddhist and other religious literature of those who followed masters who tried to kill them, and still become enlightened. Look at any craggy tree growing in the inhospitable crack of mountain rock. Ideal? No. Possible?Just look.

Jiyu left some monks in the OBC who quite dislike meditation -- zazen. This is something they acknowledge themselves -- not a claim by me. They minimize it in both their life and ceremonial. Their counterclaim is that they practice mindfulness while they are reading Westerns, watching movie DVDs or doing something else they enjoy. Who knows or cares? But it's certainly meditation light.

It's impossible to tell if Jiyu was meditating, dozing, sleeping, or just sucking up TV. Those who like her will assume the best. Those who don't will see it differently.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:05 am

I have no idea about RMJK's meditation. It's none of my business. But I can honestly say that I'm a better person for her having passed this way.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Thu Dec 02, 2010 11:53 am

jack wrote:


Jiyu left some monks in the OBC who quite dislike meditation -- zazen. This is something they acknowledge themselves -- not a claim by me. They minimize it in both their life and ceremonial. Their counterclaim is that they practice mindfulness while they are reading Westerns, watching movie DVDs or doing something else they enjoy. Who knows or cares? But it's certainly meditation light.

It's impossible to tell if Jiyu was meditating, dozing, sleeping, or just sucking up TV. Those who like her will assume the best. Those who don't will see it differently.

Not sure what you mean by the first sentence. The practice at Shasta Abbey when I was there (70's - 80's) was a rounded mix of zazen, work, ceremonial, scripture study, and so on. No one was taught that one activity was more worthwhile than another. It is unavoidable that some people will prefer one activity to another, but I don't see how that reflects on the curriculum. Whether or not something is "meditation lite" depends completely on the practitioner, not the activity. Sitting on a zafu is not certain proof of meditation, though I grant it is physically difficult and thus a reasonable measure of motivation.

Regarding your second comment it was not impossible for me to tell when RMJK was meditating Vs sleeping or just watching TV, because I was there meditating with her. It is however impossible for me to impart the truth of it to those who were not there.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:39 pm

Lots being said here; so comments do flow:

Kennett wasn't a Perfect Master; wasn't a Buddha - or more usefully - everyone is Buddha. Just claiming to be perfect, to be a Buddha is conclusive that one is not.

Her experiences were her own. I, and I assume others acknowledged that Kennett Roshi was a teacher of zen. She received varying degrees of respect for that within and without the community. Some had Roshi on a pedistal, some didnt. It depended how close you were, and how familar you were with zen and the buddhas teaching.

She wasn't a 'strong sitter', her absence from the zendo and the sanzen room did show that clearly. Roshi did have 'bad knees' and the disadvantage of extended girth as limitations that she expected us to take into account when wondering about her absence. As her jiisha, in the 70s we'd discuss such complications in The Way, while I prepared her Hollindaise Sauce or changed the TV.

The classic notion of zazen or vipasyana or meditation does imply that the practitioner spend many hours 'practicing'. The position of much of the body is not important. As we know the Buddha spoke of meditating in four different postures: sitting, standing, walking, and lying down. So there's room for finding what works for your body. Alot of Kennett's time was spent in a recliner, so a supported version of 'lying down'. Whether she was meditating or not, who can say?

I do now recall the visit of Ven. Kim Seng (sp?), Kennett's ordination master who came to Shasta in 74 or 75 (anyone clarify that date?). He came with another monk and they stayed only a short time - about a week. He was very disappointed that Roshi did not come to the meditation hall and sit with the sangha. Roshi stayed in her chair wearing her knee high black leather boots; it was too much for Kim Seng and he left sooner than planned. Roshi was very worried by his visit, specifically she was concerned that we would 'poach' her seniors and take them East for training.

As her jiisha, I was with her through lots of dark moments from 72 to 76, a pope has a confessor, and we both confessed. Roshi taught that when you 'get it', have kensho, are really enlightened then it's all 'sitting', you're always meditating whatever you do. Roshi was good at this style of 'prajna', some version of an awakened grandmother who could slap you in the right way and get you to see it. But don't you dare slap back!

So, how do you know when you've got it? Do you have to have someone else tell you when you've got it? If you do, who to turn to? If you do, what does one say? Well, zen has a history of recording those dialogues and they are very challenging. People literally challenge each other, test each other. They stand their ground. 'When you are the master of where you stand, you are the master of everywhere', to quote a zen saying.

If you're going to claim it you put it on the line. Whatever you experience you have on the line. Drop the claims, have your own experience. I do not believe that Kennett took the final step. If you were at Shasta you chanted the relevant lines every day - the one's about that final step and its preparation under the katalpha tree. There can't be anything held back. Kennett was stuck there, everyone else got stuck there. If we went through it for a moment then the weight of our karma pulled us back and there was no seasoned meditation master present to point the way.

Roshi's years in the sodo at SojiJi were intense, that's the design of the sodo. The goal is to force you to an experience of your true nature, to give up everything. Once the intense sodo experience is complete, then comes some years of maturation before mastery is obtained. In Japan, another ten to twenty is the measure to truly season the master.

So, in the end my reflection on my experience is that Roshi was unseasoned, had one act, didn't want to be challenged, didn't want to be put to the test, go eyeball to eyeball. She pulled rank one too many times and lost because of it.

Remember that at eighty years old Joshu said he'd study with a child if they had realized the Way.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:05 pm

Isan wrote:
jack wrote:
Jiyu left some monks in the OBC who quite dislike meditation -- zazen. This is something they acknowledge themselves -- not a claim by me. They minimize it in both their life and ceremonial. Their counterclaim is that they practice mindfulness while they are reading Westerns, watching movie DVDs or doing something else they enjoy. Who knows or cares? But it's certainly meditation light.

It's impossible to tell if Jiyu was meditating, dozing, sleeping, or just sucking up TV. Those who like her will assume the best. Those who don't will see it differently.
Not sure what you mean by the first sentence.

I am drawing a distinction between formal, sitting, standing, lying meditation and mindfulness. Some monks didn't like formal meditation, and didn't do it very much. I actually appreciated the honesty of the acknowledgment, rather than pretending otherwise.

I can drive the freeways while being mindful. I'd be a menace if I were blissing in the 4th jhana. They are different experiences and different practices. As a lay practitioner, I have far more opportunity for mindfulness than sitting/standing/lying meditation. I've found mindfulness by far to be the more difficult practice, particularly since my life's work has been mental/verbal rather than manual It's so easy to slip away from it, and so easy to make myself believe I'm being mindful when I am not. In formal meditation, I've found it much easier to see slippage..

It is impossible to tell by mere looking whether or not anyone is meditating. I've dozed during zazen with good posture, and microslept several times. Other times, my body was still, my mind wasn't having anything to do with meditation. Sometimes, it did settle down to stillness. I don't worry about it. It's a practice, just like physical practice. Every workout doesn't help. But overall, they generally add to the skill being mastered. If someone is sitting, then that's what you know. They are sitting still. The rest is conjecture.


Isan wrote:

The practice at Shasta Abbey when I was there (70's - 80's) was a rounded mix of zazen, work, ceremonial, scripture study, and so on. .

You know more about Shasta than I. I wasn't really commenting on Shasta.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Thu Dec 02, 2010 3:48 pm

Ven Kim Seng's Visit is quite poignant in all this. I do not know how I knew he was not too impressed, You hint that it was because she did not attend meditation.I can not comment as I was not there.There have been comments about the physical difficulties she had, and medical reasons, and also the beatings in Japan.Again I cant comment on this precise situation.But I would query a couple of points. The Kysaku is used in Japan,I did not have a problem with it.I never saw everyone getting it en mass.If ones posture had moved, it would be gently pushed right, if one was nodding off there would be a tap on the shoulder and the 2 or 4 whacks on the muscles on the shoulders or back.This for me would wake me up instantly, and also make me not nod off again. For me it was positive, I very rarely received it after the first time! which should be interpreted that it helped me be more aware. The temple was strictly run, and a kysaku in the wrong hands would not have been tolerated. I was at quite a gentle temple, I would have thought that Sojiji would have been very gentle, as Keizan was the founder.I am not saying that she did not experience this as a difficulty,because she obviously did.It is a pity if it put her off sitting in the zendo. Sittting zazen with the teacher is very important for me, in the temple we did everything together, even bathing, maybe it was just me but I found it inspiring to sit with the Abbot,Sometimes he would talk in zazen, I did not know what he said, there were two types of talks both very very short. One was a harsh 'Wake up' the other were beautiful words of encouragement to find deeper depths of our zazen. I did check this out with an interpreter, and he did verify that these were the two types of talk! Maybe Kennett could have sat on a chair, not cross legged, but sat in zazen with the community.Maybe Ven Kim Seng was right if he felt she could, or should, have have sat somehow,especially as he had come a long way and I assume he did sit with everyone
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:40 pm

I feel that all this speculation about RMJK's ability to meditate really misses the point. It would not have made any difference to me if she had come to the zendo every single day. What I eventually needed from her was to start treating the senior monks as adults and allow us to begin living autonomous lives. It was acceptable in the early years for her to be autocratic since we were all very young from a spiritual perspective. Unfortunately as time went by, instead of changing course she kept moving in the same direction, creating a more and more repressive environment, demanding absolute obedience to her every whim. This is the heart of the matter.

I could see myself becoming more like her over time. I'm sure if I had stayed at Shasta Abbey I would have wound up displaying the same personality traits, ie rigidity, grandiosity and complete intolerance of criticism. This is important now because it is the inherited koan of the OBC and what many of us are objecting to in the present.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:51 pm

yes I accept your point Isan,Whether She sat or not did not nor does not make any difference to me. What you say about her though does not paint a picture of a very wise person. I believe that wisdom comes through sitting,so for me it is a quality i respect in a teacher,and I suppose I want to see
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:32 pm

Hi Howard,
I am certainly not claiming Vipassana is the only way. And I'm certainly not talking about or commenting on the truth. I am saying that for me, the way I was taught at Shasta Abbey to meditate and all the years that I recieved teaching in meditation practice was kindergarten-level learning. All I heard was a series of slogans: "don't hold on, don't push away," "let it come and let it go," etc... When I had serious questions, this is all that was offered to me. When I started having visions or experiences that terrified me, I was told the same slogans. I never thought that anybody I ever talked to knew anything about meditation practice. Eventually, I stopped asking questions.

My first week of studying with Noah, he gave us a syllabus and the first book we studied was the commentary on the Sattipatana Sutta. THAT's when I started studying and practicing meditation and that's when I took responsibility of really practicing it and knowing what it was so that I could teach it to others. I think that the way the Abbey teaches meditation is sub-standard and irresponsible. Things can go poorly in meditation as well, and a good teacher needs to be prepared for this and other spiritual emergencies. They need to recognize what is going on and make good decisions that help the meditator and not cause harm, or in the case of Amalia, near death experiences.

Hope that clarifies what I said.

:-)
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:26 am

Hey Diana
Thanks for clarifying your statements on Vipassana.

It's probably way too late at night to be responding clearly but ...
I found nothing lacking in Shasta's meditation instruction. How well I could digest & manifest this instruction was always the issue. Buddhist meditation is just a path toward egolessness. People journey this path according to their willingness to face themselves. The number of folks on this path match the loops, dead ends and detours on & off this path. All of our footprints bear witness to this truth.

The terribly disheartening stories we all been reading here would not have happened if the abbey monks were practising what they preached. I think you are saying that a better education for the Monks is what is needed
whereas I think it is the ego's they couldn't let go off that has always been the real problem. Until that is addressed, I have little faith that any amount of education will change things for the better.

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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:26 am

Howard said,(BUDDHIST MEDITATION IS JUST A PATH TOWARDS EGOLESSNESS.PEOPLE JOURNEY THIS PATH ACCORDING TO THEIR WILLINGNESS TO FACE THEMSELVES)


One path better than another, who knows , we are all different what works for one is rubbish for another. Above all else I value persistence, just keep hacking away at it I was told many years ago, and that takes a lot of trust.
Something I read in a book by Irina Tweedie, The Chasm of Fire, which is an account of the slow grinding down of personality,through the teaching of her Sufi Master. She says- a painful process for man cannot remake himself without suffering.I had hoped to get instruction in yoga,but found myself forced to face the darkness within myself.I was beaten down in every sense till I had to come to terms with that in me which I had been rejecting all my life.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Sat Dec 04, 2010 9:45 am

To Isan and Kozan,
All this business about Rev. Kennett and Eko saying they had past lives as Bodhidharma and Jesus--truly bizarre. Eko as Jesus. That explains so much. I'd like to know if either or both of you were close enough to the inner circle during that time to have witnessed or been aware of this. If it is true--and I'd like as much corroboration of this as possible because I see it as so important--it is both truly worrying and at the same time explains much of what happened afterwards.
Thanks,
Kaizan
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Sat Dec 04, 2010 6:58 pm

Kaizan, thanks for the prod. I have been holding back from participation in the discussions about RMJK and the history of the OBC during the mid-70's because the historical events described, and the intentions attributed, often become difficult to unravel from personal perception--and I have no desire to dispute the validity of anyone's perception or experience.

Your question is a good one however (and an excellent example of what I just attempted to describe).

Yes, I was a participating member of the "inner circle" during this time period. There was indeed a very brief period in which a number of historically famous people were associated with karmic memory experience. I do not recall a single monk ever claiming to have experienced a past life memory of someone with a recognizable name. I do not recall RMJK ever claiming a past life connection to Bodhidarma.

What I do clearly remember is a short period of time in which RMJK would say, "I get that this monk has inherited past life memories from this other person". I was in her room when she mentioned that she was sensing that Eko had inherited memories from Jesus, she had inherited memories from one of his teachers or benefactors, and several other senior monks had inherited memories from apostles. Eko was not in the room at the time. I almost burst out laughing when she made the announcement. And then I concluded that she was not actually making a claim of one-on-one historical accuracy, but suggesting the possibility of a far more diffuse karmic connection. In hindsight, I think that this specific event was simply a projection of her own issues onto the more general past life experience events of the time.

My perception of these events and their significance, is, of course, inseparable from my understanding of the meaning of "past life memories". Accordingly, I should perhaps provide some explanation.

My current sense is that there might be two basic kinds of "past life" memory experience.

It seems plausible to me that some memories, seeminly from past lives, are actually images, scenarios, or stories, coming into consciousness from deeper, unconscious parts of the psyche.

It also seems likely to me that past life memory experience might result from a connection with the field of our Collective Unconscious--or in traditional Buddhist teaching--the Akashic Record. (Just as a point of interest, many physicists today believe that the universe never loses "information". This is described in more detail in the book: Science and the Akashic Field, by Ervin Laszlo.)

I think that both of these possible memory types have significance to the extent that they reflect our own existential dilema (i.e. that which brings us to meditation practice in the first place). And that existential-karmic knots can be stored in the body--thereby also providing a connection to Collective Unconscious memory.

Or, to use another and perhaps easier analogy--our personal memories might be similar to files stored on our own computer's hard drive; but with an internet connection, we can access files (memories) throughout the (Indra's) net. The memory-files that we access probably have a lot to do with our karmic-interests--and our purpose in life.

So, in short, I attached no significance to claims of association with historical personages, on the part of RMJK or others, and I assumed that RMJK, ultimately did not either. (But, then again, I assumed a number of things about RMJK at the time that were not supported in retrospect!)


Last edited by Kozan on Sat Dec 04, 2010 8:08 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : To correct and clarify the fact that RMJK always framed past life memory as an inheritance from another--never as an indication of reincarnation.)
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Sat Dec 04, 2010 8:32 pm

Kozan,

When I read your post as you first wrote it -- that Kennett said she "was sensing that Eko had been Jesus" -- it had a ring of natural, unforced recollection that your correction doesn't. Could it be that you did remember it right the first time? Did she truly say "I'm sensing that Eko has inherited memories from Jesus?"

I don't mean to be giving you a bad time here. I'm sorry if it comes across that way. But I think the first thing you said was the true one.

Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Sat Dec 04, 2010 9:24 pm

During the most intense psycho drama during the lotus period, Kennett absolutely made all kinds of claims about various past lives. These were not casual suggestions. I was in the room constantly with her so I couldn't avoid what was going on. Of course, there was later lots of revisionist history here -- as I said -- editing the myth.

The Jesus thing -- she saw everyone around her as all those people -- by now i forget exactly who was Mary Magdalene, doubting Thomas, etc. -- but she saw them all that way. And yes, she absolutely said in past lives she was Bodhidharma and St. John of the Cross. Daizui was the grand enabler. Right, the monks did not make past life claims -- Kennett did. This was her psychodrama, her imagination and visualizations.

I didn't make any of this up nor am I exaggerating what happened. I am not going to go along with the OBC retort -- oh, you must have misunderstood. Nope.

From my point of view, all of this drama was just an extended fantasy, visualization, it had nothing to do with any kind of authentic spontaneous spiritual experience. Not from what I saw. Just to be clear, normally it is certainly not my job or business to judge other people's experiences - spiritual or otherwise. Except in this case, since Kennett forced everyone to be part of her drama. So it was not just hers -- she involved us all. So, yes I will then speak out about what I saw and heard.

What i saw felt terrible, dysfunctional, deeply confused. She needed a therapeutic intervention, not a bunch of blindly devoted sheep......

And she was totally lost in this narcissistic process and she took everyone with her, so it became a forced group delusion. I was NOT going along with it - internally - but everyone was externally - there was little choice unless I wanted to leave right then and there - and i wasn't quite ready to do that.

As I said elsewhere, the lotus blossom period was far more bizarre and sad than she wrote about. And the fact that she dressed up all her shadows in gowns of light does not change a thing. I may sound harshly critical, but this period was from my point of view extremely harmful to all those around her.

Kozan, you are being very kind, and I understand that. But that's not what happened. I know you were around during that period, but i don't remember that you were that close to this particular "action." But my memory of much of what happened has thankfully faded.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Sat Dec 04, 2010 10:07 pm

Interesting observation Lise. As a writer, I would have to say that my first version did have more punch!

My initial phrasing was in response to the earlier discussion on the thread--and the way in which the original issue itself was phrased--and framed.

After I posted my response, I realized that I had completely neglected to mention RMJK's primary point of emphasis around past life memory, which I now take for granted: you are not the person who had the experience in a previous life that you may now be remembering.

This is a critical point, because the film of memory plays back on the screen of our awareness as if in the present. If it feels like my memory, then perhaps I was the person experiencing the original events being remembered. Traditional Buddhist teaching says that there is no ego or soul that travels from life to life. (I believe that this remains true within Tibetan Buddhist teaching, which also recognizes that there can be a continuity of awareness.)

However, this way of framing past life memory is rather cumbersome to continually repeat. As I recall, RMJK used shorthand versions trusting that we had all understood the basic principle.

So, in short, I think that my first version probably was closer to what she actually said--and that my second/ current version is closer to what she actually meant (and to what I understood).

And again I would emphasize that this particular period of connecting herself and other monks with historical personages, was, in my opinion, nothing more than projection on RMJK's part.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Sat Dec 04, 2010 10:12 pm

One other thing. Through my experiences at Shasta, through my work with SORTING IT OUT, and through study of religious movements, I saw that religious groups can fall into a kind of group delusion that can even include group fantasies and even hallucinations. That aren't real, but there is shared and created experience. It can be exciting or terrifying, but seem real. We don't see things clearly in any case - and so group fantasy is quite possible.

People can dramatically whip themselves into a mental state or even a frenzy of shared experience. The Mormons come to mind. But i saw it other cases.

In terms of these so-called past life group events around Kennett. They were just her imagination and fantasies. How many other people have believed there were Jesus or Mary or John the Baptist. thousands throughout history - it is one big story. It is very likely that Jesus never actually existed, at least not in the story that the new testament spins. So when people imagine or "remember" - that are just playing out their version of the story. Bodhidharma also probably never existed -- he was a wonderful myth to explain the movement of dharma -- I am not saying that there were not sages and monks who brought the Dharma from India, but the Bodhidharma story was created later to justify the various lineages. Great story. but a story nonetheless.

So any remembering is just a kind of wish or guided meditation. There have been lots of studies how easy it is to create false memories not only in children but adults. The story of our lives is never that interesting -- far better to create better versions.

One of Kennett's traits was a deep-seated insecurity about her status / stature - she felt rejected by the Japanese - maybe some truth in but certainly it was also her core story - no one loves me, everybody rejects me -- from her childhood. She wanted to be loved, accepted, approved, acknowledged. I have seen this with other teachers -- how do they enhance their resume??? How do they get this authority and recognition they crave?

Great past lives. Not kidding. The guru Da Free John did this -- claimed to have been the Indian Emperor that built the Taj Mahal among other things. "Zen Master" Rama created a long past life resume where he claimed to be this and that great guru. It was quite funny -- until he killed himself and his dogs in a bizarre suicide.

I am not saying that as part of meditation, some people do have experiences of what they might consider a past life or moments of a past life. But in most cases, the people aren't really sure and it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. Now is where reality is encountered.

Now, in terms of historical Buddhism, the Buddha talks about when you achieve a certain state of awakening, you can recall quite clearly hundreds of past lives and there is no doubt. I wouldn't know about this. And neither did Kennett.

Even most of the Tibetan lamas I know, who are considered to be the 8th or 9th incarnation of this or that great previous lama, they can't remember their past lives. Some seem to have some memories when they are children, but some not. And there seems to be no attempt to remember.

All my Tibetan teachers stressed that we should not get caught up in any meditation experiences of any kind, but remain focused in the state of open presence, awareness. Experiences of all sorts come and go and are just the play of mental phenomenon. The minute we attach to any experience, we fall into hope and fear, and more clinging, and we get entangled in our mental processes.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Sat Dec 04, 2010 10:22 pm

Jcbaran wrote:

All my Tibetan teachers stressed that we should not get caught up in any meditation experiences of any kind, but remain focused in the state of open presence, awareness. Experiences of all sorts come and go and are just the play of mental phenomenon. The minute we attach to any experience, we fall into hope and fear, and more clinging, and we get entangled in our mental processes.

Really? That's exactly what I have been taught at Throssel for 25 years.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Sat Dec 04, 2010 10:34 pm

the supreme example of group delusion is of course nations. Germany during World War II, Japan for decades through World War II, the present day North Korea. Also political parties or movements. The tea party movement. Just because millions of people share a common vision does not mean its any more true of course. Millions of people can't be wrong -- oh yes, they can.

Deep feeling = truth. Actually no. deep feeling only means there is a feeling which can be completely false. Seeing is believing -- well, you can see what you want to believe. There are so many scientific experiments that prove that we do not even vaguely see clearly. We don't see things as they are, we things as we are.

So back to Kennett - to me what the Abbey descended into -- that included the lotus period but continued throughout Kennett's life and may be continuing to this day -- is a kind of group fantasy / belief / story. Past life stuff was just a small part of it.

Ideally, the group monastic / Zen / Buddhist experience should help free us from illusions - at least that's the way the Buddha originally designed it. All the rules and the discipline only existed to help people wake up.

Now when an organization, structure creates another story, another layer of illusion, it ceases to be useful and in fact becomes a factory for more samsara, more ideas and fantasies and beliefs. It is trading horse manure for cow manure. Not useful.
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Iain

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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Sat Dec 04, 2010 10:49 pm

Jcbaran wrote:


Ideally, the group monastic / Zen / Buddhist experience should help free us from illusions - at least that's the way the Buddha originally designed it. All the rules and the discipline only existed to help people wake up.

Completely agree with you Josh

Quote :

Now when an organization, structure creates another story, another layer of illusion, it ceases to be useful and in fact becomes a factory for more samsara, more ideas and fantasies and beliefs. It is trading horse manure for cow manure. Not useful.

Completely agree with you on this too. But in the context of my own experience, which relates to a time and place with which you are unfamiliar, I also feel that some of what I read here is similarly a 'layer of illusion'.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Sat Dec 04, 2010 11:29 pm

Iain, yes, i cannot possibly know your experience.

I am sharing what I saw, heard and my own insights. That's all.

jb
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Sat Dec 04, 2010 11:54 pm

Isan said "What I eventually needed from her was to start treating the senior monks as adults and allow us to begin living autonomous lives. "

I'd agree with that, it sums up the problem, Kennett in 76 became autocratic, and the small semblance that we had of a Sangha ended. It was Guru / disciple after that - well I didn't stay beyond 76 so I'm not speaking beyond that.

In 76 past lives were 'real' in the 'inner circle'. They appeared in Berkeley as a way to create an interpretation of the intense psycho-physical energies being released in Jin Shin. Myself and Daizui were the ones giving Roshi Jin Shin treatments as soon as Barbara started drawing back (due to time issues). Soon we were all doing it on each other and everyone was 'flapping on the table.' Lots of repressed energy was emerging, it was hard to disregard the feelings, the physical sensations, the images, the thoughts. We'd been living a repressed practice with Kennett, we'd all had years of repressing rather than integrating the material that is revealed in meditation. Jin Shin changed the status quo, and all of us including Roshi were flooded with the released material. It all needed to be intergrated, processed. Lots of ways to do that, but Roshi had a long interest with the occult and the interpretation of what we were experiencing came from there.

Once we were back at Shasta, and the JinShin use widened, the intensity spread and voila, Eko 'was' jesus, I 'was' Barabus, everyone received a 'role' and the psycho-drama began in earnest. Soon, Kennett brought the experiences under control, shaped them into whatever 'psychic bottles', she required you to fill. Don't have your own experience, your own vision, your own internal life. We ended up with something that had no connection to Buddha Dharma in a meaningful sense. If you were on the 'outside' things may have looked normal, but they weren't.

In talking about these events, there are the words we use and the events we experienced. As Buddha taught, the words never fully embrace experience. The Truth goes beyond words. It's very difficult to talk on this, whatever is said can be read in many ways and turned about many times. But in those experiences, in those days there was only one way allowed. We were prisoners who were free to go, but manipulated to stay.

My comments began with a quote from Isan, and I'll end with saying I share Chisan's regret that Kennett wouldn't come to the zendo and we sit together as a sangha. Perhaps that's the key to why it all went wrong. Sad really looking back after all these years.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:04 am

Iain Yes of course "some of what I read here is similarly a 'layer of illusion'."
If it weren'so we would all be Buddha's! But what is happening here at its best is a sangha sharing its dharma about becoming buddha. The great advantage here is that every point of view is expressed and we can learn from them all. The point I learn most from Josh's [jcbaran] postings is the remarkable similarity accross groups and cultures. I should not really be surprised one only has to look at the Catholic paedo abuse scandals to realise that.

The insight that is confirmed for me is the danger of charisma. Which would you prefer a charismatic doctor or an effective one? I know this begs the question, but actually even so most of us would chose the charismatic one. That is what charisma means, that you are attractive and inspire loyalty not that you are competant, or have any insight. My advice about gurus (and politicians) look at the boring ones you'll be better able to judge what they are saying without the cloud of their personality getting in the way. The power to influence people is very addictive; in many Catholic monasteries they elect the abbot every five years, some every year, inrecognition of this.


Last edited by mstrathern on Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:07 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : incompetant typing)
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Sun Dec 05, 2010 3:52 am

Gensho I have a couple of questions especially for you.
You said in your post that Eko was Jesus you were Barabus. Josh has hinted at these lives were somehow managed,Daiji used the words autosuggestion.I would like to hear from you 'Did you know that Jesus was going to be next before it happened, was it sort of worked out before.

I am not meaning this next one in any critical way, but I remember you saying to me, or commenting on a writing or saying,that basically everything other than pure zazen is makyo ,please feel free if you remember to use your own words,I remembver it you may not,I made some sort of joke I think.It is a tough thing to say,and I would go with that,maybe needs a bit of clarification,but for me zazen is being whole complete so I believe that was your meaning and I agree. bearing that in mind did you feel it odd at the time all the release of energy or past lives. Did you feel pressure to conform? I can understand if you do,but I would be interested in your inner thoughts at the time. I got a feeling from a long way away you quickly became disillusioned.
The point is not critical,more a question of if you believe in true zazen,experience true zazen,I do not think you can really ever turn your back on that.To elaborate a little from a personal view,the Abbot in Japan,quite clearly pointed the way for me to me,what ever circumstance I find myself in I can not forget my integrity and belief,I can not go agsinst that right way or right practice, I have done,and do but I do know it is not right practice,or not enough right practice.
I would be very interested in your answers
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:19 am

Quotes on point from Carl Jung. From my point of view, these relate directly to Kennett's lotus blossom period and confusions:

"Fillingthe conscious mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of Westerntheosophy, but not the confrontation with the shadow and the world of darkness.

"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by makingthe darkness conscious."
"ThePhilosophical Tree" (1945). In CW 13: Alchemical Studies. P.335
"Aman who is unconscious of himself acts in a blind, instinctive way andis in addition fooled by all the illusions that arise when he sees everythingthat he is not conscious of in himself coming to meet him from outsideas projections upon his neighbor.
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PostSubject: Re: Kennett and Meditation   Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:25 am

Great quotes I like
'One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light,but by making the darkness conscious'
First class quote
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