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  Rev. Jiyu's Legacy

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Howard

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PostSubject: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Sat Dec 11, 2010 1:30 pm

Hey lisa
In answer to your question of Rev. Jiyu's legacy.

Rev Jiyu once said that the only legacy she wanted was for her disciples to surpass her own understanding. Plain, simple & Zen but that was along time ago.

I think seeing her disciples giving their meditation a little workout outside of the confines of her sandbox would go a long way towards achieving that. That will sound insulting to most inside Shasta's embrace but it looks & smells like the lifting of the cover off the sandbox is long overdue.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Sat Dec 11, 2010 5:23 pm

Very well put Howard! It is precisely what the real Transmission is all about.

And I love your analogy. I think that the tendancy may be to look for her legacy inside the sandbox she created--when her most valuable legacy, I believe, is actually found, manifested, and demonstrated outside of it--on the playground of life.

As anyone who has ever had a sandbox knows, they do tend to become cat boxes.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Sun Dec 12, 2010 12:28 pm

thanks Howard, for starting this thread. I hope Kaizan will drop in and talk about his understanding of preserving the best of Kennett's legacy.

I can absolutely give my support to what you've said, that Kennett wanted her disciples to surpass her own understanding. Beyond that, I need Kaizan to explain how he views her legacy, before I can give unqualified support.

As Olly, Jack, Diana and others have pointed out, there is excellent teaching in the larger world and so much to learn from other teachers. I could wish for the OBC that they would open up their understanding to bring in more of that, and place less emphasis on following only Kennett.
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Karen



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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Sun Dec 12, 2010 12:47 pm

I've heard a couple of OBC monks refer to the teachings of others, namely Ajahn Chah, Cheri Huber, and Pema Chodron, so at least some of them do other reading on occasion.

(I've been lurking -- hope to find time to properly introduce myself sometime soon.)

-Karen
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:40 pm

Am I getting it right in what you are saying Howard, do you mean they are insular because of the constrictions placed on them, which is what I think you mean. It has always puzzled me why the obc have never uploaded talks to youtube like other tradition do.Anyone have any ideas on that.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Sun Dec 12, 2010 5:15 pm

john wrote:
Am I getting it right in what you are saying Howard, do you mean they are insular because of the constrictions placed on them, which is what I think you mean. It has always puzzled me why the obc have never uploaded talks to youtube like other tradition do.Anyone have any ideas on that.

The OBC is simply continuing in the direction that RMJK led during her years. Most other teachers and groups did not meet RMJK's standards and she wasn't willing to compromise for the sake of being an active part of the larger Buddhist community. She would have nothing to do with the Japanese Zen presence in San Francisco or the Tassajara Zen Center. There were a few exceptions in the early years; she had an active relationship with the Sufis based in San Francisco. We attended their Festival two or three times. There was also a Buddhist teacher/group that practiced "fire walking" (google "Buddhist fire walking" - it's out there). They came to Shasta Abbey once or twice and performed the fire walking ritual. Fortunately none of us were asked to participate LOL. There was brief contact with Phillip Kapleau and his Zen center in Rochester, NY - don't know what happened there. There were a few other scenarios and Kozan may be able to fill in some of the blanks, but basically there was a sense of going our own, separate way, especially after the Lotus Blossom experiences and the resulting conflicts/criticism.
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Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Sun Dec 12, 2010 9:40 pm

Karen wrote:
I've heard a couple of OBC monks refer to the teachings of others, namely Ajahn Chah, Cheri Huber, and Pema Chodron, so at least some of them do other reading on occasion.

(I've been lurking -- hope to find time to properly introduce myself sometime soon.)

-Karen

Hi Karen, welcome to the forum.

It's good to know that you have heard other teachers mentioned. I hope the OBC monks can read and explore with freedom, and discuss other teachings with lay folks. It's been awhile since I last had contact so I may not be up-to-date on how things are.

It will be interesting to see, over time, whether other teachers' influences might be absorbed into the OBC's practice. I think it might help them right the ship and steer a straighter course --
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Sun Dec 12, 2010 10:59 pm

I've spent a good amount of time today thinking of RMJK's legacy and, like Lise, I'm not sure I know what it is.

What I do know is that for all these many years since leaving the Abbey, I have felt like a failure. I so very much wanted to be a monk and I failed. But now I'm beginning to understand that I failed at something no one should succeed at. I failed at being able to be humiliated and infantalized; I failed at being able to function within dysfunction.

I ran across an article today that in my mind epitomizes the attitude that we were to cultivate. It's an article given to me by Rev. Daizui, and it may have been given to all monks. Because of time constraints, I cannot type in the whole article but will pull out a couple of relevant paragraphs. It was written by Venerable Dr. Sheng-Yen entitled Selecting and Studying under a Master Ch'an Newsletter, no. 38 (July 1984).

"...In selecting a master students should concern themselves only with correct view. They should not bother about the master's character and conduct.

"Although a master may appear to suffer from the same failings as his disciples, it should be remembered that the mind of the master is ever pure. Were it impure, there would undoubtedly be defects in his teaching of the Dharma.

"Even if a master tells lies, steals, or chases women though knowing perfectly well that such actions are contrary to the Vinaya -- indeed, even if he does so in view of his disciples -- he is still to be considered a true master as long as he scolds his disciples if they too commit transgressions. Such a master will undoubtedly reap the bad consequences of his transgressions. but this is his concern and no one else's."

If this is what RMJK's legacy looks like, I'm sorry, I will have to pass.


Last edited by mokuan on Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:28 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : basic editing errors)
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Howard

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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Mon Dec 13, 2010 1:54 am

Hi John
Am I getting it right in what you are saying Howard, do you mean they are insular because of the constrictions placed on them,

This is kind of a yes & no answer.
I think they are insular because the constrictions placed on them became part of an identity that was not let go of.

Insulating the Abbey from the world via constraints made some sense in the early years. A growing congregation of inexperienced young monks with few seniors to guide them, save herself, justified it.
Worldly distractions and alternatives could be better controlled with the building of a wall around Shasta.

When the congregation meditatively matured, that physical, mental & emotional wall should have been let go of to give full experience and freedom to the Buddha's teachings. Instead the wall remained and although it provided some safety, comfort and conformity it left its congregation acting as a "hobbled horse". Skilled perhaps at concentration but not demonstrating much of an understanding of meditation as many of the stories on this forum attest to.

I think anyone sincerely trying to let go of the constrictions, insulation, walls or identity that separates themselves from the rest of world would be a decent legacy for Rev. Jiyu.
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Kozan
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:04 pm

Isan, I fully agree. You wrote:

"The OBC is simply continuing in the direction that RMJK led during her years.... She would have nothing to do with the Japanese Zen presence in San Francisco or the Tassajara Zen Center. There were a few exceptions in the early years; she had an active relationship with the Sufis based in San Francisco.... There was also a Buddhist teacher/group that practiced "fire walking" (google "Buddhist fire walking" - it's out there). They came to Shasta Abbey once or twice and performed the fire walking ritual....There were a few other scenarios and Kozan may be able to fill in some of the blanks, but basically there was a sense of going our own, separate way, especially after the Lotus Blossom experiences and the resulting conflicts/criticism."

In reflecting on your post yesterday I did some internet search and came upon an interesting interview of Irene Horowitz (a friend of Jiyu's) by David Chadwick, posted on the Crooked Cucumber, a website devoted to Shunryu Suzuki Roshi (for anyone not familiar, the founder of SF Zen Center and Tassajara). She mentioned Dr. Ajari Warwick, the fire walker who visited us at the Abbey (who was quite a character).


She also mentioned that Suzuki Roshi was just as reluctant as RM Jiyu to interact with other Buddhist teachers, and, together with her interviewer, provided anecdotal evidence suggesting that this is quite common among Zen Buddhist teachers in Japan. Suzuki Roshi's reception of RMJK, upon her arrival in San Francisco, appears as though it may have been rather cool. By contrast, Katagiri Roshi (Sensei at the time) had a far warmer response, and attended one of our ceremonies at the house on Lake Merritt, in Oakland (before the property in Mt Shasta was purchased).

RMJK, Myozen, and Mokurai stayed briefly at the SF Zen Center when they first arrived from Japan, through arrangements made by Claude (I can't remember his last name at the moment), who had been a friend of hers since they first met in London during WWII. Claude also provided a loan that was part of the down payment made for purchasing the Abbey property. Her association with Alan Watts was likewise the result of a long friendship. He had been a childhood friend of her brothers.

The teacher of the Sufi group you mention, Samuel Lewis (or Sufi Sam as he was affectionately known), had actually been ordained as a Buddhist monk, by Koho Zenji I believe, and had trained at Sojiji. Jiyu considered him to be a dharma brother.

A variety of Buddhist teachers and Christian monks visited the Abbey over the years. I don't know of anyone who requested a visit, who was turned down. Once, when RMJK was away, I remember meeting with an American Tibetan Buddhist nun, and some of her disciples, who visited (and were of course hoping to meet with RMJK).

The one other Buddhist teacher that I remember RMJK having a strong relationship with was Tarthang Tulku (for those who don't know of him, he is the founder of the Nyingma Institute and Dharma Publishing). I believe, from comments made by Myozen, that they met Tarthang shortly after arriving in the U.S. RMJK visited him in Berkeley, he visited her in Oakland at the Berkeley Buddhist Priory when she was seriously ill, and he visited us at the Abbey. Dharma Press published at least the first edition of Zen Is Eternal Life.

On the whole, my sense is that many of RMJK's connections with other Buddhists stemmed from earlier, longer term friendships, and/ or her early years in the U.S.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Sun Dec 19, 2010 9:34 pm

The more I read the more I think that the legacy of the best of Jiyu's teaching is still going on. However definately not in the OBC and Shasta, but in the Portland Dharma Rain Center. I live in England or I would seriously consider becoming a member.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:31 am

You made me smile with that last post. If it weren't for the fact that I'm physically unable to do seated meditation any longer and that I am no longer willing to have anything whatsoever to do with any organized religion, I would probably go explore their center too. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Tue Jan 11, 2011 5:26 pm

When I look at acts of real kindness and humanity, I see actors with no regard or concern for themselves. Maybe the significance of saving someone is that it really is not a metaphor.

In my readings, I have come across quotes from the children of Protestant preachers who cannot bear to get involved with religion ... and I noticed they were not without a sense of spirituality.

I am willing to be very naive: to me it was always about following your heart and your teacher was suppose to be really good at helping you with that. The tragedy of human life is than we gift pain when it could have been love. That suffering might not exist ... what a magnificent dream: I could hold out for that.

Nevertheless, in the context of Mahayana Buddhism, it is truly ironic and sad when you go on about rescuing all sentient beings and cannot embrace those close to you.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:17 am

Hi Albert.I think you are pointing to the naive tender heart which training is supposed to uncover. I have seen people dieing unable to move or speak, with tears in their eyes, and have often thought, the pain we cause others comes up to greet us when we are dieing. If only we knew to hold back when our pain and malice arises. To leave this life knowing that nothing matters any way, that we were just caught up in the drama of it all, but to have remorse and regret because love was not shown is so deeply sad.I heard someone once say- tenderness has a revolutionary effect on mankind. Self reflection is so very key to living as is making the right choices.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:54 am

Very nicely said John
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:08 am

john wrote:
Hi Albert.I think you are pointing to the naive tender heart which training is supposed to uncover. I have seen people dieing unable to move or speak, with tears in their eyes, and have often thought, the pain we cause others comes up to greet us when we are dieing. If only we knew to hold back when our pain and malice arises. To leave this life knowing that nothing matters any way, that we were just caught up in the drama of it all, but to have remorse and regret because love was not shown is so deeply sad.I heard someone once say- tenderness has a revolutionary effect on mankind. Self reflection is so very key to living as is making the right choices.

Hey john! ... I think you are suggesting I look at life through the lense of dying. Wow! ... that's really cutting straight to the heart (of the matter).

You remind me of Dogen: "live like your hair was on fire".

When I first studied that phrase, I had no hair, and maybe that's why I just grasped it abstractly as being about a lot of effort.

However, now that I have hair (it's a bit gray and I don't mean highlights) what really strikes me is the enormous pain of that moment .... here training is not training: training is just proceeding to the immediate cessation of suffering (in the absence of any thought of failure or success).

And when you truly feel ... academic interests like whose pain is it, simply does not arise: sometimes, when I can't really connect with someone, I feel like I'm just moving around in a wheelchair.

Thank you john for your generosity: sharing some of your experience with me.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:32 am

Thank you for that Albert, will let that penetrate.

Never thought about my perspective of looking at life through the lens of dying before.Thats a wake up call.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:08 pm

Hey John
Never thought about my perspective of looking at life through the lens of dying before.Thats a wake up call.

R. Jiyu used to say that a kensho is just a dry run on death.

Some say the same thing for formal meditation. Everything that you experience is
allowed it's own birth, it's life, it's dying and it's death.

Now theres a cheerfull encouragement for Zazen!
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john

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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:05 am

Howard. I have heard her say that on recordings. Also I have heard it said being healthy is just a slow way to die, hows that for being cheerfull. Life is just one one big kensho.

The arising and passing away of all phenomena.
Isnt this the basis of the teaching of the illusion of self,nothing solid or permanent
exists because of its ever changing nature. Although it feels pretty real and solid to me I can still go along with that one. Ahh Zazen, the bane of my life cant live with it cant live without it. What to do. The means of training are a thousand fold- but Zazen must be done.
Always we must be disrurbed by the truth, certainly works for me.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Sat Feb 05, 2011 4:23 pm

Hello all,

Jiyu Kennett also phrased it the other way up: that the dying process has the same phases as a kensho. I've found that to be true, and very helpful to many people. With regard to the legacy question, I had my experiences and insights with Roshi Kennett confirmed in my relationship with Shodo Harada Roshi. He helped me clean up some loose ends and debris, which was vitally important. Still, what I received the Jiyu Kennett is the basis of my spiritual life and work.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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john

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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Sun Feb 06, 2011 11:14 pm

(what I recieved from Jiyu Kennet is the basis of my spiritual life and work)

Kyogen, I am so glad you said that it will help to heal some agony in my own heart.
With thanks and palms joined.
John
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mokuan



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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:17 am

Dear Kyogen and Gyokuko,

It's nice to see you both back here. Your insights are always appreciated.

I was wondering if you had a sense of how the OBC and/or Jiyu Kennett are regarded in the greater Zen and other Buddhist communities and if you could speak to that.

Thank you,
mokuan
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Kyogen

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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Tue Feb 08, 2011 8:48 pm

Hello Mokuan,

Most of the other Zen lineages don't know quite what to make of the OBC, mostly because they have very little contact. Some, like Daido Loori before he died, admire the monastic forms developed at Shasta. Some, like Sojun Weitsman at the Berkeley Zen Center, admire her grasp of ceremonial forms. Many think that something is a bit odd, however. There were some misconceptions about Shasta and the OBC that Gyokuko and I helped clear up. Basically, it's a mixed bag, as you would expect.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Wed Feb 09, 2011 3:03 am

Did any admire her teaching?
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Kyogen

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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:20 pm

Very few were really aware of her teaching. The Wild White Goose got mixed reviews with people, while Lotus Blossom caused consternation. Her talks were not available on line until recently. It's hard to know the nature of a teacher from a distance. I was not terribly impressed with Maezumi Roshi's writings, but the care he took with his students did impress me. Through meeting his students I got to know him better. The same is true with other teachers.

Kyogen
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Kyogen

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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:44 am

Since posting my last reply, I remembered Selling Water By The River, aka Zen Is Eternal Life. Selling Water made a pretty good impression, over all. ZIEL less so because the first printings were poorly proofed and otherwise odd. The language became more old fashioned and had some weird quirks as well. Because it was a new edition, it was more a matter of curiosity.

Kyogen
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:06 am

Sellling water by the river went down well in Japan It was a new type of book that was practical,and had no ambiguity. A very straight book, not a fun zen book, I think there was a great need for for this type of manual and made me feel Kennett Roshi was part of a strong lineage.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:38 pm

I believe some of Jiyu Kennett's legacy will be her finding common ground with Christian mysticism. I once saw a monk's reading list and noted some Christian classics there, including The Cloud of Unknowing. She frequently cited Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, and the Desert Mothers and Fathers, as I recall. She had her own East/West dialogue of a sorts, corresponding with a Cistercian Abbot in England. In my own life the East/West dialogue has been an important dynamic beginning with Thomas Merton in the 60s, including my ten year relationship with a Christian abbot who was a spiritual mentor, and continues to this day. I know that for some her correlations with Christian mysticism and her theistic language were a cause of consternation but I found them quite resonant at times. Though I winced at her seeming proprietary relationship with the Divine.

For me also I think her adaptation to Western liturgical forms and music had merit. I would have wished that she would have found favor with recognizing the value of psychology. I found fault with her diminishment of psychological insight, and especially the spiritualizing of what are clearly psychological problems which seems to continue to this day in her disciples from what I have heard. The lack of any psychological training in her disciples may account for some of the damage that is done to trainees along with their twisted ideas of the master/student relationship and "cruel compassion." It is surprising given that one of her key disciples, Daizui MacPhillamay, was a trained psychologist who had some very sound psychological skills and insight from personal observation as a colleague of about three years.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:20 pm

cmpnwtr wrote:

I would have wished that she would have found favor with recognizing the value of psychology. I found fault with her diminishment of psychological insight, and especially the spiritualizing of what are clearly psychological problems which seems to continue to this day in her disciples from what I have heard. The lack of any psychological training in her disciples may account for some of the damage that is done to trainees along with their twisted ideas of the master/student relationship and "cruel compassion." It is surprising given that one of her key disciples, Daizui MacPhillamay, was a trained psychologist who had some very sound psychological skills and insight from personal observation as a colleague of about three years.

Yes, at Shasta Abbey psychology was viewed as a system whose goal was "coping" while zen training was seen as a real cure for the ills of the mind. The problem is there is some truth to this. The kinds of coping strategies that psychology sometimes offers do not go very deep. Meditation practice tends to undermine "coping" because it unmasks the self and requires a deeper response to the causes of suffering. On the other hand it is simplistic and dangerous to conclude that meditation is a universal cure for the many kinds of mental illness. The average person who suffers from mild depression due to a lack of direction and meaning in life may effectively be "cured" by adopting zen training, while other more serious problems may be made worse by it. In our role as teacher/mentor we must approach the suffering of others with caution and humility, prepared to accept that what we have to offer may not be what is needed and keep the focus on whether or not the individual actually benefits. In retrospect it is shocking to remember the degree of mental distress some monks endured at the Abbey, believing that if they just held on long enough training would cure them - truly terrible.


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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:46 pm

@ Isan

Yes, I am familiar with the premise you are describing here about psychology, I heard it countless times at Shasta. As a practicing psychotherapist of 30 plus years experience and a practitioner of meditation for 40 plus years I find fundamental disagreement with that premise. Our psyche is a fundamental dimension of our humanity, and not just a set of coping mechanisms to be set aside to find the "truth." Healthy spiritual practice is about aligning our consciousness with our true spiritual nature or spirit, and it is not necessary or even healthy to dismiss our psyche as an obstacle or part of the problem. To do so does great harm and causes unneeded suffering.

In the case of the monks at Shasta Abbey too many of them suffered from this premise and cultivated a caustic disrespect for the psyche of human beings based on ignorance and the flawed belief that the psyche is a delusion to be gotten rid of. They then deluded themselves further with the idea that they are acting from a higher transcendent plain of no-self. Too often they acted out this delusion with cruelty and inhumanity in ways that were abusive and arrogant. The stories on this forum give witness to that effect. The practice of teachers "blowing people up" or "mirroring" is a good example of this. The truth is a good share of these monks simply are ignorant, arrogant, and ill prepared, when they are thrown into an intimate teaching relationship with another human being and end up making a miserable mess of things, including the incapacity to manage their own psyche and unconscious motivations because they are in such denial and haven't done their own psychological work. They don't even understand the fundamentals of transference and counter-transference. Even the clergy or trained chaplains who are involved with pastoral counseling are more prepared (and accountable) for this human encounter than these zen monks.

The goal of the spiritual journey it seems to me is to become a conscious, loving, and skilled guardian of both spirit and psyche while we walk this earth, and to bring them into healthy alignment. That's what's worked for me.

Thanks for sharing your point of view.
Blessings,
Bill
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:58 pm

Bill, I'm afraid I would disagree with you on Jiyu's legacy. Early on, pre 76, yes she had a good dialogue with some Christian, mainly Catholic, religious. But the period when people talk of her 'Christianising' Buddhism seems to correspond with the time when she was severely ill and went awry. I have no problems with quoting from non-Buddhist sources, after all I have quoted from Roesbruck, Eckhart, Hillel, Aquinas, St John of the Cross, Cassian on this forum myself; they have deep insights into spirituality and training and with their deeper understanding than mine can put things much clearer and better than I can, and in a manner that is often more congenial to western minds than say some of the more florid latter Mahayana cannon. But from what I have seen and been told Jiyu used quotes mainly to bolster herself and to validate her 'visions', which I'm afraid I view as hallucinations brought on by her illnesses. This seems even to be the view of the OBC since they quietly dropped How to Grow a Lotus Blossom from the published cannon, but unfortunately have not expressed that view openly.

As to her not recognising the value of psychological medicine both in How to Grow a Lotus Blossom and more particularly in The Book of Life, co-authored with Daizui, there is a rejection of all of western medicine both physical and psychological, with tables stating specific illnesses and conditions such as spinal deformity and bladder weakness that supposedly have specific spiritual causes. I'm sorry but this is just dangerous nonsense; understandable in a mediaeval setting perhaps but most of us have left the dark ages behind a long time ago.

I have no particular argument with her adapting Zen liturgy to a more western style, though for my taste she went rather to far. Nor would I have any fundamental argument with her having re-examined Zen and Buddhist teachings within more western Christian terms. But I don't think that is what happened. From what I have read and seen she purloined from Christian and other sources material to validate the visions brought on by her illnesses when she could find no real validation within the Zen traditions or hierarchy. This is what in the end leads to Eko after having met the abbot of Sojiji exclaiming that the abbot did not have the depth of understanding that he, Eko, had. Presumably because the abbot didn't think he was Jesus in a previous life, as Eko claimed he was! We must discard this nonsense and search out the truth. As Aquinas said 'If you want the truth look for what is.' a sentiment echoed by Dogen, Rinzai and most other great teachers both east and west; it is really very simple and we overlook and then overcomplicate it everyday. I fear Jiyu went astray and though she did leave some real teaching this was very muddied and almost obscured by later developments. Since over the years more people have left the OBC than have remained her real legacy is to be found outside the OBC in places like this and to go by what we find here her legacy has been some good teaching which unfortunately has been all but buried in hurt, damage, confusion, the abandonment of practice and even downright delusion.

Even without the misdirection of misguided teaching it is as Nagarajuna said in his commentary on the Prajnaparamita Sutras:
Bhodisattvas who produce the great thought,
Fishes eggs and mango flowers,
These are three things common enough;
But rarely is it that they bear fruit.
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:08 pm

mstrathern wrote:
But from what I have seen and been told Jiyu used quotes mainly to bolster herself and to validate her 'visions', which I'm afraid I view as hallucinations brought on by her illnesses. This seems even to be the view of the OBC since they quietly dropped How to Grow a Lotus Blossom from the published cannon, but unfortunately have not expressed that view openly.

As to her not recognising the value of psychological medicine both in How to Grow a Lotus Blossom and more particularly in The Book of Life, co-authored with Daizui, there is a rejection of all of western medicine both physical and psychological, with tables stating specific illnesses and conditions such as spinal deformity and bladder weakness that supposedly have specific spiritual causes. I'm sorry but this is just dangerous nonsense; understandable in a mediaeval setting perhaps but most of us have left the dark ages behind a long time ago.

I feel you are making a pretty big leap when you suggest the OBC dropped HTGLB from the "published cannon" because they've come to believe it to be an expression of RMJK's illness. How can you possibly know that?

The "Book Of Life" is an evolutionary, not revolutionary, step from Chinese medicine as expressed through Jin Shin Jyutsu. There is a long standing tradition of relating mental/emotional states to specific energy meridians which in turn relate to different parts/organs of the body. Western medicine does not subscribe to this paradigm, however it is generally acknowledged that acupuncture works even if western medical theory cannot explain it. With regard to the more esoteric dimension of the work where connections are drawn between various types of illness and traumatic experiences from previous existences, obviously that is only potentially meaningful if you accept the premise. Even though the matter of "rebirth" is part of Buddhist belief and is presented as an essential aspect of the historic Buddha's enlightenment you chose to see RMJK's attempt to relate that teaching in a practical way as an expression of her illness - in fact proof of illness. While I understand that you strongly believe it I don't see how you justify it on those grounds. It is clear that you have not found it necessary in your own practice to explore these dimensions of experience, but I have. Contrary to your opinion that such experiences are delusion, etc, they were for me a necessary part of my unfolding that made it possible to understand parts of my personality that otherwise defied explanation, and more importantly provided the key for ultimately clearing the debris from my life. The validity of past life memories cannot be proven any more than any other aspect of spiritual experience. If one is called to make the journey then what matters is how to navigate the waters. In spite of RMJK's faults this was something which she in fact did understand and the faith she extended to me got me through.

None of the above is meant to justify the way you were treated, or any of the other abuses that occurred over the years. There is a difference though between the very real problems that we all experienced and the aspects of RMJK's teaching that did not suit you, but which nevertheless are part of traditional Buddhism.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:43 pm

Isan you're right of course these are my views and conclusions. When I was at Shasta people were experiencing former lives, some of those included Jesus, Bodhidharma, St John of the Cross I thought that this was delusion, hallucination, makyo, what you will, others obviously concluded differently. In my view initially in Jiyu's case this was brought on by her illnesses, again just my view I was in no position to know for certain. My suggestion of why HTGLB has been dropped from the cannon (if indeed it has) is just that, a suggestion. I'm in no position to know if it has or why.

As to reincarnation a difficult subject at the best of times as the Buddhist belief is that there is no self or soul to reincarnate. As I understand it this was the difference between Hinduism, where there is a 'soul' that is reborn, and Buddhism where there is not any single thing that is reborn but a continuum from one life to another. But whatever, I'm not really now in a position to comment on it since I no longer believe in reincarnation, or rebirth. But be that as it may, part of the reason I left was because I found the suggestion that Jesus, etc. were reincarnated at Shasta as preposterous. That people may have experiences that they believe are from previous lives I don't doubt but to my mind the feel of what was happening at Shasta was all wrong and it seemed to me to be some form of mass hysteria, confirmed in my mind by the unlikelihood of those who appeared in the previous lives.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:04 am

@ Mark

Thanks for sharing your perspective. I would have to say that at least in the circle of my contact with JK and some Christian practitioners who were able to communicate with her or visit the Abbey there were some good interspiritual exchanges. I suppose having had some roots in the Christian Contemplative tradition I might have been sensitive to any validation I might have perceived in that direction and my experience with Shasta Abbey and the OBC gave me a push in that direction when I left.

I did have some experience and training with the use of "mudras of harmonization" during my tenure and found they had some benefit in terms of releasing energetic/emotional blocks that came up through meditation. I don't really have any comment about the past life issue.

I think the denial of the validity of psychology and the spiritualizing of psychological problems, or defining them in terms that they were simply things to be denied or transcended as illusory egoic manifestations was a tragic mistake whose consequences continue to this day in JK's students and their work with their students. This simply contributed to the creation of an illusion of "super monks" who are so grounded in no-self that they can tear into the humanity of trusting students with their wisdom swords crushing ego and driving their students into kensho breakthroughs. I've witnessed a bit of that kind of brutality and certainly heard the stories but fortunately was not on the receiving end of it. Many of the horror stories we hear on this forum are a symptom of this erroneous teaching.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:21 am

Speaking about the best of JK's legacy, (And Mark may be right here in saying that the best of her legacy might be found outside of the OBC.) when I have the time, I want to post more at length about the best of JK's legacy that I see having come to fruition in the life of my wife and I, our marriage, and especially in our daughter, now 35 years of age. At age 15 she attended classes at Dharma Rain Zen Center with me in the study of the precepts. She then attended a four day Jukai meditation retreat complete with the ceremonies of lay ordination, Sange, Kechimyaku, and Recognition, and was received as a spiritual adult into the community. This was a profound rite of spiritual initiation that has had an enduring impact for the good in her life and doubtless in her marriage and with her soon to be born child. On another thread I invited examples of models of spiritual teaching, teachers, and communities that are actually working well. I have to say that in many respects Dharma Rain Zen Center really has brought to life and actualized the best and healthiest aspects of JK's legacy and expanded on them in a developmental way, especially the early period.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:34 am

Hello Bill,

I blush at your kind words, but appreciate them deeply. I have to say that Jiyu Kennett's emphasis on the Shushogi had a lasting impact on me. The teaching in that text relates directly to the five ceremonies of Jukai and connect to Tozan's five ranks, and to the early teachings of the Buddha's Five Eyes and the stages of the Buddha's awakening. I love that it can all be found in the Precepts. I appreciate Jiyu Kennett's early teaching and emphasis on these matters.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:46 pm

Jiyu Kennett's Legacy- (please excuse the long post)

"God writes straight with crooked lines." -Jiyu Kennett

For one who has had a deep connection to a spiritual community and lineage, the task, and perhaps the purpose of this forum, is to sift the wheat from the chaff in integrating how that connection with the OBC and Jiyu Kennett, its founder, has brought forth fruit or not in our life experience. On this forum we process much of our own experience with the "crooked lines" but something profound and deep and life-giving has managed to flow through those crooked lines. Jiyu Kennett's legacy is probably best understood and evaluated in the realm of each practitioner's personal experience and narrative. The above quote, that she used often, has characteristic theistic language which might be translated into Zen language, something like " The Absolute manifests perfectly and completely in the imperfect and incomplete conditions of the relative." I can best address her legacy in how it has planted seeds and brought forth fruit in my individual and personal dimension and in the familial and relational realm.

I started sitting daily on my own after a personal crisis and awakening, and after reading Kapleau's book, Three PIllars of Zen. I took to sitting zazen naturally, but found supportive forms and discipline after a visit and personal retreat to Shasta Abbey in 1971. I found meditation to be a recovery of a practice I went to spontaneously as a young child of three and four years of age, which I would describe as going "inward and being present to the Presence." From early life mysticism and interior communion with Presence were my path. Zen and Jiyu Kennett's teaching from her and her teaching disciples helped me recover and to validate that path. That growth and validation continued in my involvement with the Eugene Priory and the support of Shuyu (George) and Gyozan (Joanna) Singer. In Eugene at my invitation, my lover and partner, soon to be wife, Jeanette, joined me in weekend practice days, and found in her own way a similar inner validation and authentic path. We were married in Sept. 1973 at the Eugene Priory in a moving and instructive ritual. What took me at the time and I believe my wife in a similar fashion, was the words of the marriage vow that we promise to "help one another be successful each in our own way" in the shared life. That has proved to be true and a faithful commitment on both our parts.

Individually through the years of my tenure as a lay practitioner and lay ministry with the OBC the enduring and deepest truth was that I continued to receive support for the essential experience and practice I was drawn to as a young child. The Jukai experience and lay ordination helped me to confirm that experience as an adult with the commitment to meditation and the precepts to actualize inner communion, refuge in the deep heart, and to live that experience ethically and compassionately in the precepts. I should also say that the understanding of one's devotional life as a way to transform and unify consciousness with the meditative experience was also validated through the liturgies I learned, which were quite a good fit with what I had already learned in a Benedictine Christian monastery.

Without going into detail, when I left the OBC in 1987 the validation and support I had received was continued and made healthier both through the sangha of the then emerging Dharma Rain Zen Center and the teaching and support of Kyogen and Gyokuko Carlson. In addition I found support and and experienced growth through a mentoring relationship of ten years from a Cistercian Abbot who had been initiated into Zen/Contemplative practice by William Johnston, a Jesuit Christian Zennist who had been taught by the Yamada Roshi of the Yasutani lineage. Without going into further detail, now at age 62 for the past 40 years the Jiyu Kennett legacy has helped me recover and nurture the contemplative heart I have always been in this life to great and life-giving effect.

My wife, Jeanette-
Jeanette also went through Jukai with me in 1978. Her pattern of involvement with Shasta Abbey was less intense but she also enjoyed a mentoring relationship with Daizui MacPhillamay. At the time of the break with the OBC she also eventually found her way to connect with Dharma Rain Zen Center and became very involved there, as a teacher in the children's Dharma school, as a web manager, and eventually in a leadership role as chairperson of the board and enjoyed a fruitful relationship, with both teachers, especially Gyokuko. Jeanette was raised in a fear based, rigid, Christian fundamentalist family of origin which she rejected from day one. The legacy of Jiyu Kennett, through her teaching disciples, especially the Carlsons, made it possible for her to have a spiritual path which fit her very common-sense,logical mind, and compassionate heart. The two pillars of meditation and precepts, made perfect sense to her and still do to this day.

In our life together meditation and the precepts have given us a way to look upon our marriage and relationship as a partnership in spiritual growth, a way to let our conflicts and issues be the raw material of greater growth in love and intimacy. Our second child, a son, contracted acute myelocytic leukemia when we were still a young couple. It was a time of acute suffering and in retrospect the experience could have crushed us, as it often does with young parents. But it didn't. Our practice of meditation and the precepts helped us walk with our son's dying, our surviving daughter, and each other to do our best and survive and find purpose even in this great pain and loss. This is part of the legacy of Jiyu Kennett.

My daughter, Frieda-

When my daughter was just 3,4, and 5 years old, she was accustomed to a gathering of a meditation group that met at our house. We would invite her to sit with us when she wanted, and sometimes she listened in to the audio talks and discussions. Sometimes she would. The guidelines we gave her for meditating were simple. "Just be very quiet inside and listen to your secret places" She got that. In the evening nearly every night, before we put Frieda to bed, we would have an evening 'vespers" liturgy. She would say, "I want 'bespers' now." She loved to ring the bell, to light the candle and the incense. We would have a short sit of five minutes. Then we would chant the Litany of the Great Compassionate One and the "Peace on the Pillow" chant. She would then jump on the bed, pretend to be asleep, forcing me to carry her into her own room which is what she liked and we would both kiss her good night. When her younger brother, Carlo, died, she was able to experience it through us and know that it was painful and difficult but we would get through it.

I have always believed in the importance of rites of passage and initiation, especially for adolescents moving into adult life. Frieda was a very mature child growing up, and when she got to be fifteen I made an invitation to her. I said my belief that she was ready to really assume an adult life spiritually and be responsible for her own spiritual development. I told her I would go to Jukai preparation classes with her, studying the precepts (Mind of Clover by Robert Aitken) and if she wanted, I would support her in going through the Jukai retreat and ceremonies of initiation, lay ordination, receiving the precepts, sange, kechimyaku,recognition, and so on. And so in the spring of 1991 we did this. She took it all in, reflectively and thoughtfully and inwardly discerned this commitment. Then she decided to do this.It was a commuter based, modified meditation schedule, but she was able to do it, and accepted the discipline and intensity of it, inwardly and outwardly. I can only say that she didn't verbalize much about it afterward, but it affected her profoundly. When she stood with her wagesa on, with the other group of newly ordained adult lay trainees I sense a real confidence in her. Jeanette and I gave her a gift of her own meditation bench and a wood carved box to keep her wagesa and her ketchmyaku and certificates in, which she treasures to this day. It is now 20 years later. Frieda is 35 years of age, married for 8 years to a wonderful Catholic man who respects and loves her dearly. She goes to Mass with him on Sunday and he respects her Buddhist practice. She is an oncology nurse who works with the very ill and dying. She is an inwardly peaceful and stable person with a deep compassionate heart. She is expecting her first child at the end of March. She sits intermittently and goes to Dharma Rain Zen Center when she can, which isn't often because she lives an hour away and her hospital schedule makes it difficult. But her grounding in meditation and the precepts is solid and enduring. And she will in her own way impart that same legacy to her own children. My daughter's spiritual maturity and growth are a generational fruit of Jiyu Kennett and the training and service of her teaching disciples, Gyokuko and Kyogen Carlson.

Dharma Rain Zen Center is a living example of what a healthy, dynamic spiritual sangha of teaching, practice, and support can be here in this culture and this time, for everyone, young adults, old adults, children, couples, families, gay, and straight. And constitutes the best of the legacy of Jiyu Kennett.
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Thu Feb 17, 2011 2:52 pm

Thank you, Bill. Your personal story is inspiring and your conclusion is generous and encouraging.
Polly
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PostSubject: Re: Rev. Jiyu's Legacy   Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:19 pm

Thank you, Polly. In telling our stories here on this forum, the critical assessment is part of the integration process, and so is the positive assessment and discernment. I was inspired a bit by Mark's comment that Jiyu Kennett's legacy may best be expressed and honored in those who have left the OBC rather than those who stayed.
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