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 RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter

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Isan
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PostSubject: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:21 pm

I am in the process of typing up this rather long letter. It might take another day to finish it though, so I'm uploading the photos Mark snapped of the letter. They are quite legible.

Page 1 http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=4&u=15815092

Page 2 http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=5&u=15815092

Page 3 http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=6&u=15815092

Page 4 http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=7&u=15815092

Page 5 (addendum) http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=8&u=15815092

Here is the original text. I believe it is accurate, but let me know if you see typos. Also, note that I chose not to type the addendum written by Jimyo so please view the photo of page 5 by clicking the last link above. Thanks!


Dear Friends,

The book that I wrote recently – How to Grow a Lotus Blossom or How a Zen Buddhist Prepares for Death is published and available to anyone who wishes to purchase it. However,because of the rumors currently circulating about it in England stemming from the time at which Daiji (Mark Strathern) was staying here (September to November 1976), the following information would seem to be necessary. This book deals with the kensho that I experienced last year and also contains several similar works of other traditions for the purposes of comparison. It represents my actual experience; any other “experiences” that may be rumoured should be ignored. Because of the authoritarian attitude of mind of the governments of China and Japan over the centuries the Soto school of Zen would never speak of what happened at kensho for the safety of its’ trainees – all they would ever say was that it was gradual – and the phrase “entering the Master’s room to receive the secret teaching” was a near as anyone got to finding out what actually happened. What does happen at kensho, however, is written down in a large number of manuscripts which may be found in the East in the archives of various great temples, frequently in code for safety. (See “The Practice of Zen”, by Chang Chen-Chi(Garma C.C. Chang), Rider & Company, London,c 1959, edition of 1950, pp. 54-59, for further information in English.)

Each time one has a kensho one is back at the beginning. It is also quite normal, duringthe third kensho but sometimes even during the first two, for a person to have very considerable visual, aural and other experiences. (See “The Practice of Zen”, p. 50). Again, because of the authoritarian attitude of mind of governments, these were played down even to the extent of denying their validity. Only in the “secret places”were they ever discussed. As I am sure every Briton knows, the attitude of the established Christian churches to such experiences ha s been so antagonistic as to cause the average Briton to fear,and to suspect, the authenticity of all such happenings.

Because I know all of this, and because Daiji became so frightened, I asked a member of the Berkeley congregation to take a copy of my new book to Iwamoto Zenji, Chief Abbot of Sojiji in Japan,as a present. I did not ask for any authentication. Mr. Lazzarine, thegentleman from Berkeley,is a scholar, and therefore I knew that he would ask all the correct questions without needing any prompting. He is bilingual in English and Japanese. I quote from his letters, “Today, together with Mrs. Kikushima, I went to Sojiji. Although I am not by any means an expert in the involved ways of Japanese protocol, it was my feeling that we were received with open arms and given the red carpet treatment. We were unable to meet Iwamoto Zenji Sama as he is sick and does not leave his bed. However, we heard via various of his emissaries that he was very happy to receive your book….At a meeting that I had with some of the Roshis at Iwamoto Zenji Sama’s house I asked them what they thought about writing a book about one’s kensho experiences. The consensus of opinion was that there was absolutely nothing wrong with it, and in fact I have just come back from meeting the Tanto Roshi who said that it was an excellent and fine thing to do and in fact he showed me a book written byKoun Ejo of Eiheiji (one of Dogen’s disciples). It is a rare book about his kensho experiences and not too many copies of it exist and not too many people know about it. Yoshida Roshi (Tanto Roshi) and I talked about translating this manuscript….He felt that it was through the forms of Soto Zen that have virtually come to lose their meaning since Dogen’s time(because of the secrecy), that the chance to do zazen has been passed on down to our generation….He said that the main thing was to put one’s full efforts into one’s own zazen, and in so doing one can hear the still small voice of the Cosmic Buddha, or of Dogen Zenji or Keizan Zenji within. He was very excited to hear about Shasta Abbey and how sincere the trainees are. I asked him to visit Shasta Abbey….I think that such a meeting would be a joyous one. They promised to send someone over to Shasta. I also promised that I would make sure that he received a copy How to Grow a Lotus Blossom… I was very glad that I was able to have a part in such a positive thing.” A note from Sojiji also came and a number o rare books on the subject of kensho came as a present from Iwamoto Zenji which will be translated into English as well as a note from Mrs. Kikushima saying how grateful they (Sojiji) allwere for me and for what I had done.

The experiences of hearing the voice of the Cosmic Buddha and seeing one’s past lives, as well as the temptations of Mara, are part of the history not only of Shakyamuni Buddha’s own enlightenment experiences (with which I do not wish to compare my own) but also of the kensho experience, in varying degrees, of every true Zen Master that there has ever been. It is not something to be frightened of but it is something to guard and protect in countries where authoritarianism and the fear that it breeds exist. Because of this How to Grow a Lotus Blossom will not be distributed in England but will be available to any Briton who wishes a copy if he or she writes tothe States. The Wild White Goose, which is essential to understanding How To Grow a Lotus Blossom, is now also available. Mr. Lazzarini says in his letter there was much more but that it is too hot for him to writefurther. Should anyone wish to have more information on his interview at Sojiji, his address, and that of Mrs.Kikushima, will be made available.

What has happened with Daiji and those who have blindly followed him, such as Hofuku (Michael Hughes) and one or two others, has saddened me greatly. It has also pointed up the wisdom of my own Master, Koho Zenji, and his sadness with regard to England. Shortly after I experienced what is called in The Wild White Goose my first kensho in Japan, Koho Zenji received a letter from England requesting a teacher and offered me to the person concerned. A letter came back saying that I would not be acceptable to the British since I was a woman. This worried Koho Zenji,and he caused a letter to be written to another Buddhist in Britain asking if it was indeed so that a woman could not teach in England.

He received a letter back saying that there was no room for any further teachers in England and a letter came to me saying “Roshi clearly has two utterly different meanings in Rinzai and your school of Zen and we here know the Rinzai well. To them it means that very rare flower of long years of enlightened effort, matured by five or ten years of work after which the inka (certification) is granted and this fact is never published aloud. There are no exams, no degrees and no ceremonies. The man concerned must have attained a whole series of large scale satori(enlightenment experiences) and have been further trained to teach. Only then can he take sanzen or use koans for his pupils. We have met four such in England in twenty years and one other who is more your school, but also Rinzai trained. The term as used in your temple has obviously a very different meaning.” Although this letter came to me it got into the hands of the authorities. The contents came to Koho Zenji’s ears and caused him great sorrow; I was instructed never to have any further communication with England. It was felt at Sojiji that someone in England was refusing to allow Soto Zen to be spread.

Some time later I was approached by Mr. Kenichiro Habu, an important Japanese, on behalf of Mr. William Picard of Mousehole, England, who had had a considerable number of visual experiences which I believe Mr. Habu either recognized as the beginning of a Soto kensho or which he wished to verify; I am not sure of his reasons. I did not wish to go against my instructions but I longed to help Mr. Picard and so I reluctantly spoke of the matter and was given permission to communicate with England in this instance. This was the beginning of a long acquaintance with Mr. Picard which culminated, in 1970, with the climax of his kensho experienced during a sesshin led by me at Tathata Centre in Gloucester and his ordination and Transmission by me two or three years later at Throssel Hole Priory. Again because of the authoritarianism and fear in England I instructed him to be very silent concerning the experiences both during his kensho and during the actual Transmission ceremony. (There are two types of Transmission ceremony. See article in this month’s Journal of Shasta Abbey.) I asked Mr. Picard to come and train, for a kensho, without training and a strict code of morality, soon becomes but a beautiful memory. (See Yasutani Roshi in“The Three Pillars of Zen.”) One has to know how to use it and, above all, one must not be afraid of what Mr. Picard calls the “phenomena” that takes place. It happens – one neither clings to it nor throw it away. It is just part of the on-going process. As Yasutani Roshi puts it, “If one sees devils and demons and feels no fear, and see gods and angels and feels no elation, one is free.” One just keeps going. And this is what my latest book is all about - how to keep going; I am not trying to show off nor am I pretending to be a saint. Anyone can do what I have done and gain their own experience. I feel like Nansen who has just been handed half of a dead cat by the British who have just killed it.

Because of Koho Zenji’s feelings concerning Great Britain I became an American citizen but I was born British and love of country is not soeasily quenched. I have therefore, at various times, gone to England for the purpose of spreading Soto Zen and Throssel Hole Priory was established for this purpose. When I knew that I was possibly dying and, at the same time, beginning my third kensho last year, I sent for Daiji to come to this country so that he might see for himself what took place and perhaps experience one himself since he had not, as yet, done so, and since the kensho of one person tends to set in motion the kensho of another. Unfortunately Daiji not only broke the rules of Shasta Abbey, he also became very frightened during the middle section experiences and fled back to England saying that he would keep his fears to himself. At a later date he changed this and proceeded to take freely of what he thought was going on to the great detriment and confusion of some people. One of the saddest things for me is to realize that Koho Zenji wrote joyfully to England after my first kensho and authoritarianism turned away; now Daiji, quoting authoritarianism, has caused some to turn away again in the same way and possibility the same reasons. Hofuku (my former proxy), who has not yet finished his studies and is neither a full priest nor a teacher in his own right, has seen fit to spread Daiji’s rumors and to se himself up as the autonomous head and teacher of his own monastery. He has also written to me to renounce his discipleship. I would like to make it clear that however many renunciations of discipleship a person may make, once Transmission in either form has been done such renunciations are impossible whatever the individual may think or do. Up until Transmission a person may take a new master but not afterwards. Whilst making it clear that neither Daiji nor Hofuku can ordain or teach in my name, nor in that of Koho Zenji since he is above me in the Line, it is essential that everyone knows that they can never be cut off, nor will they ever be cut off, by me, and all they ever have to doin order to come back to full status is to both apologize and ask. No one is ever “excommunicated” from the true Buddhist Sangha.

In the 1100j’s because of the secrecy of the Soto sect with regard to what happened at kensho, Daie Soko advocated Rinzai techniques over Soto saying that they were superior since all that Soto allowed you to do was just sit. (See “The Practice of Zen,” byChang Chen-Chi or Garma Chang, pp. 54-59, for more information.) It is indeed fact that this is all the Soto sect does allow you to do until you have taken the Precepts absolutely and this has resulted in Soto being looked down upon by some orientals down the centuries and even despised by some in England. It would indeed be tragic if Soto were againto suffer because of the secrecy.

Recently, whilst lecturing here in America, I was asked by a member of the audience why I had revealed things that had been keptsecret for so many centuries. A Chinese professor from Nan Yang University in Singapore, who had been getting steadily more excited during my talk, burst in with the answer to the question for me – “She can speak because America is not an authoritarian country. Both Japan and China have authoritarian governments and this makes it impossible for the Truth to be known openly.” I did not know this man but he knew well the secret teachings of Soto Zen. It is indeed a tragedy that they cannot bespoken of openly in England because of the witch hunting attitude of mind that England’s authoritarianism has engendered.

Bearing the above in mind I wish to ask all of you the following question. The true teaching has been twice offered to England and it would seem to have been turned down, so I ask you, the congregation members, to decide – what do you want to happen top Throssel Hole Priory? Do you wish me to send over a qualified priest and teacher from America and, if I do, will you rally around him and not persecute him nor allow others to do so? Will you put your mouth where your money is? Do you wish to run it as a sort of boarding house until the six Britons presently training for the priesthood in America return? Do you wish to close it? In spite of what it says in this month’s journal, it is not fair to ask Kyosei, Hofuku’s wife, who wishes to be my true disciple, to run it since this forces her into conflict with her husband and I will never cause harm to her or her family. What do you want done? Let me know. I am not God – only a Zen Master.

Sincerely,

[signed] Jiyu Kennett

Rev. Jiyu Kennett, Roshi.

PS The originals of all the letters quoted here are in my possession and may be seen, at Shasta Abbey, on request. Books III and IV of The Wild White Goose contain all the details of the correspondence of Koho Zenji with Englandmentioned in this letter. This part of the Goose has not yet been published, only Books I and II. This month’s journal of Shasta Abbey is available from the Abbey; the cost is $2.02 (airmail) or $1.28 (surfacerate). J.K.


Last edited by Isan on Sun Dec 05, 2010 5:13 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:34 pm

My first question about the letter has to do with the account of the correspondence between Koho Zengi and "England" (see second half of page two and top of page 3). First of all who from England contacted Koho Zengi asking for a teacher to be sent and then responded to Koho Zengi's two replies? Apparently there was more than one person involved. Did these people represent the London Buddhist Society? Is RMJK's account accurate? Perhaps Mark can speak to this. It's rather important since it has significant bearing on what occurred afterward.


Last edited by Isan on Sun Dec 05, 2010 1:06 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : edit for accuracy)
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Sun Dec 05, 2010 1:56 pm

I would be interested to
You have to remember that Buddhism was not practiced by many at this time.
There was a vihara that was run by an old Ceylonese monk called Ven Kaplivado Who did know Jiju when she ws Peggy Kennett. There was avihara,that was established by the Thai government for the Thai people, in East Cheam this was run byVen Sobana Dharmasubi, It was very early days for Akong and Thrumpa, they were loaned a mansion in Scotland . and there was the Buddhist society.funded by a High Court Judge Christmas Humphries. Humphries used his considerable wealth in trying to bring Buddhism to the UK. He had helped aquire a house in Hampstead called the Hampstead Vihara. Where an Englishman Sangarashita was insatlled to run the Western Buddhist Order. Anne Bancroft was sent in to him to ask questions about his sexual activities,He left the |Vihara and set up the friends of the western Buddhist Order.
Humphries I believed had some part to play in Ingard Schloerl going to Ditokuji
\to study Rinzai ( about this time) as he wanted her to bring Zen practice back. Humphries alaso helped her on her return.
Bill had contact made for him with Mr Habu rather than Bill contact anyone in Japan.So I am not sure who else would know of Koho Zenji. Daiji maight well add some more knowledge to this.
Only other point is Daiji told me that when the previous lives was kicking off,someone mention Koho Zenji,wondering what he would have made of it all, Kennett replied 'He would not understand. It is quite an important answer because it sort of dismissed him.
All of the above is true to my best knowledge and memory but I am ready to be corrected. I have known all the people mentioned apart from Mr Habu, and Koho Zenji
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Sun Dec 05, 2010 1:58 pm

Well done too for typing it all up
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Laura

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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:29 pm

Hi Isan,

Thanks so much for doing all the work to make this document easily available on the forums. It is an interesting read and is going to take me a while to absorb. I heard in later years that some of the most senior priests in Sojiji had approved of the content of the Wild White Goose. I am hoping that RM Jiyu was not basing that statement on the content of this letter, because it was clear that no one in Sojiji had ever yet read the book.
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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:32 pm

Isan thanks typing them up . As to Jiyu's relationship with Humphries and the London Buddhist Society (LBS) the story as I heard it was that Kennet and Humphries did not get on particularly well before she left for the east. Despite what is implied in the quote below it was not that she was a woman, though the fact that she was Soto rather than Rinzai may have played a part. By this time the LBS and Humphries already had close ties with another woman trainee, Irmgard Schloegl (Ven.Myokyo-ni), who was in a Rinzai temple, so why did he ask Koho Zenji for a man?. When Schloegl returned to the UK she taught at the LBS and lived in Humphries house, and refering to him as 'uncle', and ended up setting up the London Zen Cetre there when Humphries left the house to her in his will.

Below I have quoted from Daid Kay's 'Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain', p.124, the best single history I know of Jiyu Kennet and the OBC, though with a British bias.

"The perceived hostility and antagonism of the British Buddhist establishment was another factor influencing Kennett’s decision to make America her missionary base. The personality conflicts that had emerged in London during the 1950s escalated considerably whilst Kennett was training in Japan. This development began in 1964 following a request made by Christmas Humphreys to K
oho Chisan for a teacher to be sent to England. When Koho Chisan offered Kennett, his nominated ‘Bishop of London’, Humphreys replied that she would not be accepted within the Buddhist Society as a Zen master and specifically requested a Japanese male Roshi instead./5/ In the following year, Kennett was visited by
Maurice and Ruth Walshe, also influential within the Buddhist Society. According to Maurice Walshe, their impressions ‘were not wholly favourable: 'we thought there were signs of some imbalance’./6/
Consequently, they returned to England confirming the society’s rejection of her. In contrast to the enthusiasm and commitment of her American followers, the deterioration of Kennett’s Buddhist Society contacts led her to conclude that ‘America presents a much cleaner atmosphere than does the present political scene in England’, where ‘certain selfish people […] are anxious that the Truth should be what they believe and not what is necessarily True’./7/

5/ It should be noted that alongside his personal views and his fear of being upstaged within the British Zen scene, Humphreys was also assessing Kennett against a Rinzai framework, at that time the predominant form of Zen in Britain, and according to this her status as a 'Roshi’ would indeed be questionable. Differences between Soto and Rinzai Zen on the title 'Roshi' will be discussed later.
6/ Personal communication with Maurice Walshe, November 1994.

7/ Taken from a letter to a British disciple dated April 1969
."


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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:42 pm

Firstly I must correct myself. I did not know Trumpa,I do not know if I met Akong but I am happy to say I did not
Laura thank you it does not say anyone at Sojiji read the book,
I did know maurice and ruth walsh
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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:45 pm

mstrathern wrote:
Isan thanks for putting them up as in a more accssable form. As to Jiyu's relationship with Humphries and the London Buddhist Society (LBS) the story as I heard i was thet Kennet and Humphries did not get on particularly well before she left for the east. Despite what is implied in below it was not that she was a woman, though the fact that she was Soto rather than Rinzai may have played a part. By this time the LBS and Humphries already has close ties with another woman trainee, Irmgaard Schloegl, who was in a Rinzai temple. When Schloegl returned to the UK she lived in Humphries house and refered to him as 'uncle', ending up setting up the London Zen Cetre there when Humphries left it to her in his will.


Mark, thanks for the information. The fonts are really small, but I was able to glean the essential bits.

Addition:

Regarding the correspondence between the London Buddhist Society (LBS) and Sojij, it seems to me that first they solicited a teacher and then when they found out it would be Jiyu Kennett they backpedaled, saying first a woman was unacceptable and then she didn't have enough experience (and in any case there was no more "room" in England for Zen teachers, whatever that means). The personality conflicts alluded to between Jiyu and others in the LBS are a more likely explanation. Since the LBS first insulted Koho Zenji by turning down his offer after soliciting him and then insulted Jiyu Kennett by telling her directly that she was unqualified because she was a woman and hadn't trained long enough it doesn't seem unreasonable that she felt rejected by "England". There are of course other issues, but on this particular point her feelings seem reasonable, not paranoid or implying a persecution complex.


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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Sun Dec 05, 2010 2:55 pm

Were the Walshes the couple mentioned in Wild White Goose, with whom one of RMJK's teachers tried "mirroring"?
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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Sun Dec 05, 2010 3:12 pm

Anne you do have a good memory,I believe they were. I seem to remember kennett telling me this.I remember saying that Ruth was not happy at all.
This mirroring I have not seen this in Japan it is not neccessary. Maurice and ruth were an old couple, they were on some sort of personal pilgrimage, no one in Japan is going to be rude to them, why should they? The Japanese monks I met were kind and respectful,What on earth are they going to disturb two old pilgrims. The Walshes were well connected with the Buddhist Society,the story would not have gone down well,and their version I think may have been different
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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:10 pm

Isan wrote:


Here is the original text. I believe it is accurate, but let me know if you see typos. Also, note that I chose not to type the addendum written by Jimyo so please view the photo of page 5 by clicking the last link above. Thanks!

Thanks. I would never have read it otherwise.

I see no joy or happiness in the letter -- only what appears to be fear of "authoritarianism," deprecation of those who disagreed with her, an effort to tie her experience to authentic Soto Zen, and a bit of a miff because she and Soto Zen hadn't been warmly welcomed by some in Great Britain..

I am not British. From what I've read all religion is held in relatively low regard by most Britons, but I really don't understand the fear and the need for secrecy that is woven as a pattern into the letter. Maybe someone British could comment.

It seems ironic, but consistent with Jung's shadow psychology, that she promulgated with great force the "authoritarianism" she decried. We people are interesting, and sometimes strange creatures -- all of us.
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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:38 pm

Hopefully Daiji will answer you Jack
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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:25 am

jack wrote:

I am not British. From what I've read all religion is held in relatively low regard by most Britons, but I really don't understand the fear and the need for secrecy that is woven as a pattern into the letter. Maybe someone British could comment.

An interesting letter/circular from several perspectives.

As far as the specifically 'British' dimension goes there are maybe two angles not obvious to North Americans.

I don't know the detailed history of the London Buddhist Society but by the 1960's and 1970's it had been led by Christmas Humphrys for decades. He founded the Society in 1925 and it replaced an earlier UK Buddhist Society founded by - interestingly enough - Allan Bennett who appears on another thread.

Humphrys was every inch a senior British 'Establishment' figure. Son of an influential judge, educated at Trinity, Cambridge and later Inner Temple, a famous barrister, a prosecutor at the Tokyo 'War Crimes' trials and later a very senior High Court judge himself. I'm sure he wasn't the only 'Establishment' figure in the LBS at that time, and I'm guessing that perhaps he would not easily have endorsed or acknowledged an English woman 25 years his junior. So I'd say her perception of 'authoritarianism' comes partly out of that background.

The other thing that is relevant is the long time that RMJK spent away from England. England in 1962 when she sailed for east Asia was still the same post-war country that I grew up in during the 1950's. Strongly class concious, conservative and with social mores and conventions that were much closer to Victorian times than to present day England (indeed anyone over the age of 60 then was literally a 'Victorian')

By the time she flew back briefly to the UK when THBA was founded in 1972 the country has transformed out of all recognition. Probably she never really picked up on the extent of the change and I can understand exactly why. After eight years in Japan myself I find contemporary UK society increasingly alien myself, even with the benefit of a couple of trips home every year.

Actually with RMJK an older British listener can even hear this in her archive tape lectures. Under a thin layer of North American vowels and vocabulary you can pick out idioms and expressions that vanished from UK usage a generation earlier. It is inevitable that it happens when you don't have regular and direct contact with the culture.
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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:06 am

Jack I'm not going to talk to your point about the British holding religion in 'relatively low regard'. It's a can of worms with many elephant traps (now there's a simile!)

I can say though about how I, Throssel and Jiyu were treated by other religious groups. By and large fine. There were the usual mild rivalries with some groups, Mahayana is better than Hinayana, Soto is better than Rinzai, etc., but by and large most were quite welcoming, if they had even heard of us. The London Buddhist Society (LBS) was perhaps abit aloof, but not disparaging. I went there after I had joined Jiyu's group having sat at thier Zen meditation meetings (Rinzai - Sochu Susuki)and was treated well; Jiyu was asked and gave talk(s) there, and chisan/mike Hughes was invited and gave talk(s).

Some christian groups welcomed us with open arms, some did not, and I attended a number of inter-faith meetings where all the main faiths were represented.
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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:06 pm

Isan wrote:


Regarding the correspondence between the London Buddhist Society (LBS) and Sojij, it seems to me that first they solicited a teacher and then when they found out it would be Jiyu Kennett they backpedaled, saying first a woman was unacceptable and then she didn't have enough experience (and in any case there was no more "room" in England for Zen teachers, whatever that means). The personality conflicts alluded to between Jiyu and others in the LBS are a more likely explanation. Since the LBS first insulted Koho Zenji by turning down his offer after soliciting him and then insulted Jiyu Kennett by telling her directly that she was unqualified because she was a woman and hadn't trained long enough it doesn't seem unreasonable that she felt rejected by "England". There are of course other issues, but on this particular point her feelings seem reasonable, not paranoid or implying a persecution complex.

More thoughts...

At first I thought RMJK sent her book to Japan to have her experience authenticated, but then I understood she was addressing the matter of speaking about her experience. In the letter written to her by the LBS (while she was in Japan) she was basically told "you don't talk about these things", so I believe RMJK is addressing this attitude. There is also the matter of Bill Picard. She mentions him because he had a kensho experience which she felt had some content similar to her own. Since he had a breakthrough during a retreat RMJK led, and she also ordained and Transmitted him, it seems reasonable to believe she was in the know about his spiritual life. It would be helpful to know if he ever commented on RMJK's book. Also, did he ever write anything about his own experiences? She mentions inviting him to train at Shasta Abbey, but to my knowledge he never went there. Last there is the ongoing reference to "authoritarianism". I'm not a scholar of Buddhist history and can't speak to her assertion that in the past governments have required that monks suppress accounts of what happens during kensho experience. Having grown up in the USA during the 60's the idea that the government can successfully suppress information about much of anything is laughable, however RMJK grew up in a different time and country. Perhaps her comments are reasonable given the political climate of Buddhism in England during the 70's? Only the Brits can speak to these issues and I hope they will, because I want to understand what was going on with RMJK and also the British Sangha. I will add (though it shouldn't be necessary at this point) that I'm not trying to excuse her excesses, but arrive at the most honest account of these events possible.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:00 pm

Isan, I do not know all the answers, I do know that kennett had upset alot of people in the Buddhist world in the UK. I think Anne was right when she mentioned the Walshes,kennett upset them, they would have reported back.I remember meeting an old Theravadin monk who as soon as he saw me said 'How is Peggy Kennett,'that was the end of the conversation,she had said something to upset people, there were issues,I do not think that anyone recognised her to be honest. There were issues.
A lot of people at this time thought Bill's kensho in some way validated Kennett. I may be wrong , but I think Daiji said to me once that it sort of confirmed things to him. I actually asked Bill about this because like you I wanted to know. Bill categorically said his experience was nothing to do with kennett, and she like us was very intrigued she privately asked him odd questions, trying to understand the experience. but the questions were always relative, always related to her ideas of the experience,and Bill told me that her questions, did show that she did not really really understand at all mind and body dropping away.That of course does not prevent her from teaching zazen or even being a good teacher. The Tathata center experience was the second experience for Bill he was a man full of experiences, to be truthful he rescued a South American Indian once and took him back to his village. That night Bill was invited into the chief's hut,in the hut was the man he saved , the spiritual man of the tribe, and a drummer. The drummer beat a continuous rythmic beat, and in a ceremonial way they smoked payote ( sorry for spelling) the effect on Bill was to be absorbed by the drum beat, it filled his mind, it expanded with each beat,soon it was filling the whole hut , then the whole village, and instantly the whole universe.I knew this story, it was an indian spiritual experience, it was their way of saying thank you, my friend Michael taylor punched me on the arm, and said Cosmic consciousness,I had never heard the expression before,Bill did not actually pay alot of importance to it . But Kennett was fascinated, she did not ask deep questions, she did know it was Bills second such experience, The fisrts being in a Japanese garden which I wrote about breack through on the cliff.I have seen the Japanese garden, sadly it is no longer there.but there is a painting of it in a nearby hotel. What Kennett did not know was that there were unlimited such experiences , Bill was a rare person, his normal sitting would be dropping of mind and body,would be deep sitting.It is why when he was dieing, as soon as I started to sit next to him, it touched him and he came back, and sat up, it was beautiful, Bill did not have too easy an end, it was important for him how he died and who with, what the connection was. When he died there was a little row about his ashes, as there is somtimes. His son in law phoned me up late at night to confess about the small arguments, I listen to him, he then told me that he had stolen the ashes , and spread them on the cliffs where Bill had sat for 2 years. I laughed and said well done. Everyone loved Bill he was the most unpretentious guy I have met. He spoke from a great depth of truth on the Dharma. and never wanted to be a teacher. I talked a lot to him during his life and when he was dying,he did not like the religious trapping of different colored raksus and titles and names,he did not like establised religious heirarchy he was someone who cut through it all and saw that the truth was all around him
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:29 pm

Isan, No the British government never successfully suppressed any major religious views for any length of time except the Jewish faith from 1290 to 1655, and that was done by expelling all Jews and not letting any back into the country, but still every one knew about Judaism, mainly distorted by prejudice of course, but not all. Also just look at the reformation in the middle ages people were being burnt left right and centre for their views and their views were widely reported, often distorted, and normally laced with the usual stories of baby eating and virgin defiling. Cramner, who had recanted four or five times, recanted his recantations saying that he would thrust the hand that had signed the original recantations (gets complicated doesn't it) into the fire first when he was burnt to punish it, and promptly did so. These were not guys to keep their mouths shut about anything, they spoke up and burned up. Some even upped and left and spread their views elsewhere, look at the group that sailed on September 6th, 1620 and the trouble that led to.

More recently, look up the modern Theosophists, no one tried to suppress their views or writings and, as my wife and I would say, they were D.D. - definitely Dagenhanm (Dagenham is few stops past Barking on the London Underground). No, no, no, people in the past may have tried vainly to suppress all sorts of views but they gave up trying a couple of centuries ago. There are after all those who say that 9/11 was a Jewish-CIA plot, we don't see them being suppressed for their views. No, we've found out that the real answer is to speak out, you may ridiculed by some to start with but if its true then in the end you may not be popular but you will win through.

Is it/ was it the different in China and Japan. I don't know but I don't think so. In non-Zen schools they talked about all sorts of metaphorical visions and happenings without any suppression. In any case I have read the Rinzai-roku, it may start 'In the tradition of the patriarchs I should not even open my mouth in praise of the Great Matter.' But Rinzai doesn't strike me as the kind of guy who would hold back on the truth just because the authorities might not like it, anyone who tried to suppress him would have got a Katsu and a wack with the fly wisk! Nor does Dogen or most of the other patriarchs and matriarchs strike me as any different.

No, the suppression story is, I'm afraid, the conspiracy theory nonsense that it seems.
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:03 pm

Certainly there was not government suppression.

On the first page of the letter, second paragraph, RMJK wrote, "As I am sure every Briton knows, the attitude of the established Christian churches to such experiences has been so antagonistic as to cause the average Briton to fear, and to suspect, the authenticity of all such happenings." I think her perception of the "established Christian churches" in Britain was accurate at the time (and even more so in the recent past of that time). Did she have in mind that kind of authority? I wonder if RMJK thought therefore that few Brits would be interested in the book?
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:57 pm

There is something a bit amusing about the fact that people who are are a bit paranoid almost always have a greatly exaggerated sense of their own importance in the world.

I'm reminded of the caption of one my favorite Ziggy cartoons, Ziggy is sitting in a psychiatrist's office. The caption is something like:

"Ziggy, I can assure you the whole world isn't against you. There are at least 6 billion people out there that don't give a [banned term] one way or the other."
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PostSubject: Re: RM Jiyu Kennett's Letter   Mon Dec 06, 2010 10:27 pm

Anne - I'm sorry I should have used the word authorities not government, I won't edit because it would make nonsense of your post. You quite right Jiyu's major beef was with the established churches. The quote below, again from David Kay's 'Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain', pp. 120-121:
"Although she claims to have ‘converted’ to Buddhism as a child, she remained a committed Christian into adulthood, believing that her deep calling was to become an Anglican priest. The Anglican Church’s policy on female ordination and the sexism Kennett encountered as a church organist contributed further to her growing sense of disillusionment and she eventually renounced Christianity, becoming actively involved with Buddhism, which she believed afforded greater respect and opportunity for women."

I can only retrospectively sympathise with Jiyu when she found that Soto Zen in Japan was almost as misogynistic and that to some extent she was being used by Chisan Koho Zenji as a stalking horse for women's, and foreigner's, rights within Soto-schu. I can only reiterate that from my memory the Anglican Church did not snub or denigrate her in any way on her return. It is true that the Catholic Church was more welcoming. However that was from within the monastic tradition, which is where you would expect a greater understanding of another monastic tradition. The Church of England's monastic tradition is small by comparison, almost invisible to most Anglicans, and rather late comers, they really only got under way in the late 1850s. Under the circumstances therefore they were much less likely to be reaching out across the religious divide.

It was not until I came to write this that I remembered what must be Jiyu's earliest contact with the Anglican Church on her return to England. This was during here second retreat in England at Sarum House in Purley. One day during the retreat she whisked us all of to Westminster Abbey, a journey of over ten miles through busy London streets, and had us doing kinhin round the Abbey cloister for half an hour or so. We were a pretty motley crew and drew some odd glances from the visiting public and tourists. The only Anglican reaction was from an Abbey priest who approached Jiyu and asked what we were doing. He left saying 'It's nice to see the cloister being put to a proper use.' I remember finding it quite odd at the time, but maybe it was Jiyu laying down a marker to her old antagonists saying 'I'm back'. I don't know but in any case I don't think they noticed.
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