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 Lay Ministry

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Lise
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PostSubject: Lay Ministry    Sat Dec 18, 2010 10:53 am

I've seen a few references to LMs on the forum but I don't have a sense of what this is, or is meant to be. The lay ministers I saw around Shasta wore their robes to services, helped with handing out sheet music, etc., but I didn't really hear about the substantive activities of that role. I'm sure there were some.

How does one become an LM? Do you ask or does a monk suggest it?

in curiosity,
L.
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Sat Dec 18, 2010 5:34 pm

Hello Lise

I have good friends who are lay ministers. I was invited to join the lay ministry a number of times over the years but couldn't because of my views listed on this posting. I am sure there are many who will speak of the good it did for them and can give you a more enthusiastic accounting of the lay ministry program but my memory is not so generous.

I loved the original laity set up connected to Shasta before the set up of the lay ministry program. Folks from all walks of life, coming together in training to see what trying to let go of their egos might teach them. This experience of lay renunciation seemed to bear fruit for the laity where ever I looked. Those folks with sincere effort dealt with all number of physical, mental & emotional upheavals as they faced the crumbling foundations of their own egos. We all looked for any firm footing to escape to but Shasta's lay structure left little room for that. People blossomed.

Then came the lay ministry program for the laity with robes, special status, minimal supervision and the label of lay trainees who wanted to go further in their training. Standard delusion became compounded as this new identity became something to grab onto instead of having to deal with the uncomfortable nothingness that letting go of the ego brought up. The most blatant and egregious displays of ego became normal for many of the Lay ministers. The worst ego displays of the Monks were mimicked by many lay ministers. Just as junior monks behaved better in the presence of seniors, lay ministers behaved more civilly in the presence of Monks. This hypocrisy became part of the lay transmission that mirrored the worst of the Monks' behaviour.

It was the lay ministry program that bridged the space between the abuses of monkdom and the spiritual naivety of the laity. The laity lost out on this one.

I saw the creation of the lay ministry as Shasta's single most damaging action for the laity.

Much of the attitude of many lay Ministers I met confirmed this view over and over again. If there was a trickle down effect from the top down (for the monks) for behaving badly, this lay ministry program became the perfect support structure for it
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Sat Dec 18, 2010 6:50 pm

I agree, Howard. This is what I saw: The lay ministers were priveledged; invited to do private retreats at the Hermitage, had private teas with their favorite master, got to travel with monks, got to hang out in Eko's house in the "restricted area", got to sit in the meditation hall with the postulants, etc... This only set up more problems for the old ego and set up all kinds of problems within the laity. And honestly, I think it was a total set up for the lay ministers as they were rewarded with robes and special status for offering more donations and more time to the organization. All the people I saw who became ministers during my time there were all high status people in the community; doctors, teachers/PhD's, therapists, etc... One woman in particular became a minister very fast and she hadn't put in a quarter of the time I had slaving away cutting wood or whatever else they had me do. And, she wasn't really required to do anything because of her physical condition and the fact that she was Eko's lay disciple. It was so obvious what was going on that it was sickening.

Also, some of the lay ministers I knew were exceptional people, they really were. From what I understand though, most of them have since left the OBC, which is interesting.

I'm not sure I can answer your question though, Lise. Probably someone else can. And I think it might be a different answer depending on the geography; the ministers in England might have something else going on. When I asked Eko why some people became lay ministers he said that it was because they were so devoted to their training. I saw though, that by that he meant that the ministers were the ones who financially supported the Abbey. There were certainly people who were much more devoted to their training and humble who I thought were great examples and if anybody deserved any recognition, it should be them. Maybe they didn't cut it because they were poor.

I do know that if you were a trainee in an area that wanted to have a meditation group, that you could become a lay minister and be supported by an OBC monk who would come to visit. We had a group like that in Klamath Falls for a while. I thought for sure that one of my friends would be offered a minsters robes, but nobody was. I'm sure if our group would have continued and the Abbey would have recieved more support from us, that somebody would have been asked to become a lay minister. Looking at it from a cultic-group perspective, I would have to say that the ministers are the ones that are fully converted into the cult, meaning they are in it so far that it is likely that they will not leave. That is they have gone as far as they can without actually being monks, which is the ultimate cult induction. And I guess I have heard it both ways- that you can ask to become a lay minister and someone can suggest it to you. I was told it could go both ways.

Peace,
Diana
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Sat Dec 18, 2010 7:22 pm

I was a lay minister for 12 years and then left. Maybe I'll go into this more in the future but am not quite ready to do so.

Lay ministers in the 1990s when I became one were invited to join by a particular monk. I'm not sure what the standard was or how you got picked. Some people seemed to work really hard cleaning the temple and waiting on the monk. These were "good" trainees but for whatever reason weren't invited to become lay ministers. I have an idea how I got picked and suppose it was after I did some professional services for the monk.

The OBC had to approve of the selection of the lay minister. The head of the Order gave you a special turquoise colored kesa in a little ceremony and you could wear a black robe (which you were supposed to sew yourself!!). There were special retreats and supposedly you were authorized to teach meditation (but nothing else). Lay ministers were sometimes expected to lead the ceremonies.

Some lay ministers got brown kesas, which was supposed to be an honor and a recognition of deeper training. They were the really GOOD trainees, I guess. But I never got a brown kesa and don't really know.

A big issue came up around 2004 or 2005 over the difference between "lay disciples" and "lay ministers." "Lay disciples" were attached to one particular monk and you were supposed to "deepen your training" by the relationship with the monk. You were also expected to obey this monk. I was never a lay disciple, but Eko had a bunch and so did other monks at Shasta and maybe at North Cascades.

The lay disciples were definitely higher in the pecking order than were the lay ministers. Just like the brown-robed lay ministers were higher up than those of us with the black robes. Sometimes the ones at Shasta wore gray robes. The whole status thing in retrospect seems pretty ridiculous. Why should some people go around in different colored medieval Japanese robes anyway???

Diana's take on how many of the lay ministers behaved is spot-on correct. I generally was pretty passive and didn't boss people around, but the lay ministers at Shasta were sometimes awful. They ordered people around, told lesser lay people what to do and how to act, decided which cup you could drink out of, told you exactly how to scrape the dishes at the table etc. etc. I don't know if the monks actually encouraged this obnoxious behavior, but it was quite widespread at Shasta.
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Sat Dec 18, 2010 7:25 pm

Funny stories these,I think that many people, were quite devoted to their pratice and seemed to be let down somehow . I remember very clearly when I was in japan the temple was one of many I suppose on a pilgrims route or path,I reember gettin a bit annoyed when we would be up early, cleaning the temple, racking beautiful patterns in the gravel, and the the pilgrims would come and walk all over it. early too!
One day we had a large group of old pilgrims come to stay, they all wore green raksus, and joined everybody for early morning tea cermony, It seemed fairly normal, that they were very curious about me,I was usually kept out the way , from publicity,but they were curious, and asking the Abbot about me. Sometimes these things were interpreted and sometimes not, it did happen a lot, The Abott would sometimes make a joke or tell a funny story about what I had done, I laughed with them too, even not knowing what was said. This time there was a lot of oohing and ahing.anyway tea time finished,I was last to stand up, and last to leave, i was standing with a monk who would interpret for me , when this very old man comes back in. he comes up to us and speaks to the interpreter, the monk turns to me and said' This old man, wants to bow to you,he respects you, he knows it must be very difficult for you here, He would like to do what you do, but feels it is too hard,he admires you and hopes in his next life he can do what you do'

well, I did not like it at all,I did not want the old man to bow to me,I wanted to tell him that the only Japanese word I knew was for floorclothe, and that I cleaned the floor,but one look from the interpreter, would not allow me to say anything,The old man was on a pilgrimage to his heart. he bowed 3 times and I bowed together with him when he stood up.
It is a good story,a bit difficult to tell,lay people must be allowed to show their devotion to the way,nust be allowed to practice, and monks have a duty to practice hard and not point out funny directions. By the way too, i never minded the pilgrims walking on the gravel again
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Nicky



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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Sun Dec 19, 2010 5:02 am

I was a lay Min - to my shame i fell for it , was thrilled to be chosen by my master - it felt something special , some sort of heart to heart recognition that came to me after a demanding retreat . I was ignorant of what it meant - the hierarchy - the absurd 'position' in the ranks .I knew as i was making my robes that it was the wrong direction to take , I'd never been given privileges as a child , or felt officially recognized , always struggled as an outsider , so i was fascinated , determined to try , all very unspiritual .( I have a terrible story about the making of the robes but cant tell it yet ). I loved my Turquoise kesa , that i received at Throssel , and especially Jiyus words inside :

That which is true is greater than that which is holy .

I quickly discovered how those words didn't ring out true at all , but , slowly, i had to admit I'd made a terrible mistake , though i learnt a little perhaps of following my heart .I gave up being a LM . Then a few months later i told my Master i couldnt' go on with her , and I'm out . (This all took years , but i dont think i did a single LM action - boss , help , lead . I used to think they had me there to prove not all LMs are in charge .) so much more i could say , but i'm finding this all disturbingly disturbing .
Recently i did another painting of my kesa . I'd previously done 2 sort of homages to the beauty of zen and my wee wee kesa participation in it - see on my web site , woefully out of date :
www.Nicky loutit.co.uk .

There's also some water colours of me packing up my robes , to send back to throssel .
Anyway my latest paintings (which i must put up there) is of that beautiful turquoise kesa that breaks my heart , and the horrid little black one that represents to me everything that isnt buddhism, and the green scripture booklet, are all blazing into beautiful flame and then falling into exquisite ash .
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:49 am

I liked your web site Nicky
I find 'this all' very disturbing too. What Violet wrote reminded me of the absurd pecking order, of being told what to do even with scraping off food. Surely this is the message or teaching coming down from the top. Shasta always seemed to me , that those at the top could have egos and no one else could, the being told off by other laypeople, is similar to the kysaku bing entrusted to the wrong person.
One thing you should not doubt Nicky is yourself, I think you tried to follow a way ,that you put faith and trust in, it is simple when you saw something you did not like you had the strength of character to say ' not right , not right for me'
I feel your desire for the right way was correct, you can bury that , but you can not loose that. I feel you should take it as a big positive that you followed your heart, when you needed to, and not your head.That Nicky is true zen practice
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Sun Dec 19, 2010 7:29 am

Chisan , thank you very much .
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:39 pm

Nicky,
Your art is fantastic! I love it! How wonderful to be able to express yourself like that. Thank you for sharing. I hope you know you are not alone. There really is no need to feel ashamed, though. I too felt what you describe- thrilled, fascinated, etc..., and then the pain too, of course. You are very brave to say these things. I look forward to hearing more of your story when or if, it arrives.

Violet,
I always enjoyed your company! I thought you were one of the only down-to-earth lay ministers. I know that it is a judgement, but you were a breath of fresh air at the Abbey. There was a ridiculous amount of posturing and bologne there. It is so obvious once you have left, so obvious to look back and see what was clearly NOT Buddhism or religious training. I always admired your heart for training. We both teetered-tottered on that fence for a while at the same time- the question of being a monk or not. I couldn't do it. I was always so happy and sad at the same time for all my friends who became monks. There was my own selfish loss, and I was afraid for my friends at the same time- really scared for them. I'm glad you got out of that mess up there.

The pecking order thing was destructive. Here we are told "there is no separate self" and "Buddha recognizes Buddha", but no one could even treat each other with love, kindness, or respect. I always felt so distracted with trying to figure out petty stuff like "should I follow monk X's instruction, or follow monk Y's instruction?" Should the carrot be cut into 1/4 inch slices or 1/2 inch slices? If I don't do it right, will I be subject to scrubbing toilets next work period? Who is this new lay minister who doesn't even know me and why is she advising me about a teaching that is clearly over my head? Is this just to point out that she is clearly more studied than I, or is it just a show for the monk standing next to her, a sad pious ego move to raise her in the ranks? It really did become a ridiculous show.

This is a sad thing to admit, but I desparately wanted to wear robes. It wasn't that I was jealous of those that got to wear them, but there was just something about it. I used to dream about it. And I guess you are right about the lay-disciple thing, that the disciples maybe had more perks in some ways. I remember I was told I could go sit in the meditation hall with the postulants if I wanted to. But I couldn't do it. I didn't want my friends to be jealous of me. I didn't want to feel separate from everybody. I wanted everyone to look the same. I remember feeling relieved once when I went to Spirit Rock for a retreat, that there was no way to know who was who- everyone looked normal. And the people I talked to there seemed so honest- none of this pious bologne. At that point I thought that the robes were just costumes and that it is fun to dress up in costumes sometimes! But at that point I didn't want to pretend about anything and I was more interested in trying to find out who I really was, not trying to become something else.

Peace,
Diana


Last edited by Diana on Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:40 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:31 pm

Diana ,
Thank you , deeply thank you , I want to respond properly later , and to other things you've said , but my kitchen is a mess - cosy but a mess - Needs doing before bed .
Until tomorrow then , and peace to you too , Nicky .
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:28 am

Diana , and Violet too ,
couldn't find the lay min thread , still haven't got the hang of this site , and also cant quite go with this forum being public . usually things i want to say , and read are the smaller personal postings .i see of course how important joshes huge ones are , but i fade out a bit , and save them for later , and later doesnt always come .
I had decided to retreat for a while from this forum , and just do MPs - its too tricky - wanting to communicate ,but having to leave bits out that are profoundly relevant . BUT , then i get so much from other peoples postings i begin to wonder . i want to share more of my story. At the moment I'm writing it out all all out to one person , but its not private its just easier to do it more intimately - FEARLESSLY - thats it ,how shocking that is so . And when its done , maybe others will see it too . I dont want to sound grand, its not a huge story like poor Amalias , its just about slowly learning to follow my heart , and to have a Master is not the way, for me , or many of us .( This site is somehow, scary to participate in - i wish we could meet .)
when my burning of the kesa paintings are dry i'll put them on my site - and sadly take some of the out of date ones out , though i suppose parts of one cant be 'out of date' , out of pain , out of delusion .
I've 2 friends in my xgroup still LMs ( there are far too many,) i think they sense it as a link to something good, but 1 of them is going to retire , Tactfully , whilst remaining in the OBC , and the other , well, its a delicate subject , and i think some lay people had a more profound attitude to the LM - felt the robes as part of their meditation, as representing deep training ........... REV Mugo did come and talk to me about wearing my robes , i wanted permission not to - i usually didnt anyway .I cant remember what she said , but she sat in my kitchen talking ,and i was moved. however i wasn't that moved , and as she left she apologized for being too persuasive. She wasn't too, but probably she sensed that i knew in my heart i wasnt with her . i still have an image of her going round the corner slightly hectic , me touched, but sad , upset . ( there was also much else i should have brought up about LMs , and i couldnt face it . As with the 'deli monk' the separation was too wide . ) my God it was an outrageous idea , and i cant believe it continues , though yes ive learnt a lot - id rather not have done it in a swish of those ghastly robes - Diana - once in them , i was phony . A shallow privilege .
It's snowy and icy out , I'll brave it for a bit with my little dog then into my studio and looking at my paints , the colours , the potential , and knowing there is a way there , and i feel a gratitude to your responses . I want to say more ,Diana to you about your fearless postings , and Violets too , and others , i do appreciate them , despite perhaps going MPing for a bit . I'll see , but probably best to get OUT first.
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Tue Dec 21, 2010 5:09 pm

Thank you, to everyone who's posted about their experience. I didn't realise there could be so much behind and beneath what you see as an observer. You have all answered my questions about this and I'm still trying to process it, I think.

I can relate to some of what's written above, about behaviour. Elsewhere on this forum I've mentioned seeing lay people bully others at Shasta -- it's interesting to recall that it was an LM doing it (in the presence of a senior monk who didn't intervene). At the time I didn't understand how someone thought this man had the temperament or demeanor you might expect from someone whose training had gone "deeper". He was overbearing, arrogant, quick to anger and to try to dominate. Nor did he try to hide any of this, usually. It was strange to be around him and see the display of aggression, and not see any monk take him aside for a quick chat. Possibly no one wanted to offend him due to his worldly status. I think he was a local professional, now that I think about it. His wife was a very sweet person and still is I'm sure.

For some reason I thought the title "lay minister" might involve ministering to people, providing pastoral guidance or similar. But if the designation is handed out sort of willy-nilly, it's good to hear the recipients didn't have substantive duties.

Interesting discussion -- thanks guys. L
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:21 pm

More to come . . . Thank you, Nicky, for sharing the beginnings of your story. I'll post mine eventually. Will you give us your web site again? I couldn't get to it for some reason.
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:26 am

Nicky,
I'll definitely check out your new art when you upload it! You story is your own, and please don't be pressured by me to post it. I have been very reactive myself at times, feeling that pressured push. I'm not feeling it right now, but I guess that it just had to run it's course. It's a little bit about having my boundaries broken down in the past, and me finding good ways to work through my stuff and express myself, my truth, at the same time. Not an easy thing to do! And I sympathize with all of us here who are going through this. There is so much conflict- should I or shouldn't I say what I think needs to be said? It's for everyone to figure out for themselves.

Back to "the robes": I felt that robes had some mystical quality, especially after reading the Shobogenzo and Dogen's works on "the kesa." I was fascinated by the whole thing, by the idea of the merit of becoming a monk and wearing robes; the power of the vows and of the kesa. And that myth was taught to me. Fast forward 10 years---now I can say that whenever I feel "fascinated" by anything at all, a big red flad goes up; generally the fascination is just a fantasy and it can keep me stuck in a delusion of sorts. But there is grief there now still---the grief of losing that naive, "beginner's mind." Because I really believe that something did gel for me; there was something profound there for me. But I can't live a fantasy life. I think if I wore robes, I would feel like a huge fake myself. I deeply respect your choices and path, Nicky. Good luck to you.

Peace,
Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:29 am

Hi Violet;-)
Boy, did I mistake you for someone else! Sorry! Thanks for PMing me! But, now that I do know who you are, I can say, you are one of those ex-lay ministers whom I admired! Glad to see you here! We tell our stories when it's time.
Peace,
Diana
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:11 am

Violet, you couldn't get to Nicky's website only because the entire address, for some reason, did not post as a link. Her website address is:

www.nickyloutit.co.uk

Nicky, I will add my voice to those who have preceded me:

Your work (in my personal opinion, with my own limited experience) is absolutely, unequivocally, and over-the-top, EXQUISITE!

Your story resonates deeply for me. I see no fundamental difference between lay trainee, Lay Minister, or monk--whether former or current. Within Awareness itself, there are no Buddhists--let alone the various distinctions between lay, monastic, current and former! We are all in this together!!!

I think that the most important thing that we can do--whether as former or current members of the OBC, is to take back our own spiritual quest.

It seems clear to me that you are doing just that!
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:29 am

Kozan ,
Thank you so so much ,what beautiful words , cant get over them , and what courage that gives me .
I'm speechless ...........wordless .

( ON a more mundane note , - not wordless after all - I'm not the Nicky loutit below my Website address on face book - i don't do that , but worry incase people try and contact me via it , perhaps it doesn't work like that , i don't know . )

Violet, thank you too and hope you got there .I'm touched by all of your interest .
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:56 pm

Nicky,

I cannot even tell you how beautiful and moving I find your paintings. I've been sitting here trying to think of how to put it, can't find the words. Except that "desire" rose up very strongly when I saw them, especially "Hare" and I think the title was "Birds In Early Spring". True avarice. Boy can you paint. And you are giving something tangible and beautiful to the world; I'm sure I am only one of many who are grateful.

Thanks for the link, Kozan.

Polly
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Wed Dec 22, 2010 5:47 pm

Polly,
thank you , your recognition , and appreciation of my paintings - work , is meaning a lot to me , and what;s going on. I can hardly believe in the response , and in my response , i mean i didn't know it would give me such happy strength . Courage .

I;ve been following your postings with big sympathy , and admiring you coming out with so much , so im glad i can give something in return ,

I keep on saying or hinting that at the moment i cant quite participate in this forum , and am trying more the mp way , and then back i come - easier each time , moved by one or the other of you, full of gratitude , perhaps half the time i don't know WHAT i'm talking / writing about , I'll just see what happens , anyway thank you too , Nicky .
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Wed Dec 22, 2010 6:26 pm

Polly yes to everything , but your email address isnt working , it bouces back , not sure what to do ? shalli try the old one ? nicky
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Thu Dec 23, 2010 1:42 pm

Just FYI to everybody,

I've noticed that the "private message" system sometimes fails and either my messages out don't get picked up, or other people's messages to me don't reach me. Obviously due to the note above from Nicky, my e-mail address fails me sometimes too, so just know that, at least in my case, if you have sent me a message and I haven't replied it's because of system failure, not intentional ignoring.

Merry Christmas,

Polly
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:17 pm

Nicky, I finally got onto your website. My breath was taken away by Mokugen's bowls, by the kesa (really a wagesa!), returning the robes, and many others. They are beautiful and spiritual and I as a former lay minister can truly identify with some of what you went through by seeing those incredibly beautiful images. Wow! Thanks for heading us in your direction.
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:49 am

Hello all

I keep thinking not to look at this site any more, but then I do it again and again. I will never be able to relate my experience (Pine Mtn. Buddhist Temple) (12 years), not because it is was so horrifying or awful, not because it was so .......but just because after all this time I still keep hearing that phrase ringing in my ears: "You could be wrong". !!!!! I doubted the veracity of my perceptions, (and of course they were just perceptions, my oh ever so faulty perceptions), couldn't rely on others perceptions because they varied greatly, from day to day, week to week, occasion to occasion. and because we are all such very complicated beings and our strands of Karma are so unfathomably interconnected, who am I to make any kind of judgments at all. I have to leave that up to those that are definitely stronger than me in that respect; and this is no copout, this is just how I feel. I have read some of the very well thought out and also very scholarly analyses in that regard and admire those people that can make up their mind in one regard or another, but for me nothing is ever sure and I question everything that thought brings up. I suppose I am a very wishy washy person, and I am too old to reform at this point, but I do have some suggestions from time to time that I would like to post here and there, so this one happens to be on the lay ministry.

I do believe the lay ministry is sheer folly, and should the custom survive this current storm that is currently brewing, which I hope in all honesty and by sending much merit will pass and let the OBC rise like a Phoenix from the ashes, ( a lot of good would be lost , a lot of hardship ensue, right along with the injustices and abuses told here) I would like to at least suggest a redesign of this robe to give it a bit more of a modest look, if indeed it MUST survive. First of all the sheer volume of material that goes into the making of it could be reduced. The sleeves are impractical and hazardous to maneuver about, especially during ceremonies, where candles are involved, and it is a wonder no lay minister has as of yet gone off into a blaze of flames. Also due to the position and brightness of the Kesa (Wagesa?) no doubt is left as to the importance of the person wearing it and that they must be treated with deference. The whole appearance of the lay minister resembles more that of a magistrate or a judge than just that of a supporting "brick" or "pillar" in the fabric of the temple. Somehow all of this just "isn't buddhist". ( yes, I was one, for a very short time, and due to an outbreak of anger returned it). I was never sorry for returning it only sorry of the crude and unelegant manner in which I did return it and for which I will forever be contrite. .

The significance that the robe plays in the life and protocol of the monk is quite a beautiful thing, but somehow in Buddhism it just somehow does not seem right to me to extend some sort of hierarchycal structure to the laiety whether it be for reasons of recognizing someones spiritual aspirations or just simply to confer status for economic or material reasons rendered.

Anyhow, it's late already, and why should I even care, since I am no longer part of all that, yet, twelve years of practice can't just be erased overnight and I will slowly fade away eventually.

In Gassho

Brigitte
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Fri Jan 07, 2011 4:38 am

Bridgitte
from a long way away I liked that, if you do not mind me saying you seem in touch with yourself,and should trust that.
Interestingly,this whole forum seems about the correct robe,and which one Shakymuni passed on
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Fri Jan 07, 2011 1:13 pm

Hello Bridgitte
Anyhow, it's late already, and why should I even care, since I am no longer part of all that, yet, twelve years of practice can't just be erased overnight and I will slowly fade away eventually.

It's not a bad question to ask oneself but....
I think that the part of you that understands the meaning of compassion & love would be what keeps you caring. There are people out their who are exactly in the same place that you once were and your journey from that place gives you a perspective that is of great potential benefit. Imagine how different and helpful it would of been for all of us if this forum had been in place 10, 20, or 30 years ago.
Cheers
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:13 pm

Brigette -- I agree with you about the lay ministers' robes!! Impossible! Also I share your wonderment and disappointment about what happened to all those years with Pine Mountain. I mostly practiced elsewhere but spent some time at the Santa Barbara priory and visited Pine Mt. once or twice. Were we deluded? Are they deluded? When there's no big traumatic experience like some people have related on this forum, it's hard to understand what happened. I suspect it was wrong from the beginning but we didn't trust ourselves enough to see that.
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Fri Jan 07, 2011 3:09 pm

breljo wrote:

I will never be able to relate my experience (Pine Mtn. Buddhist Temple) (12 years), not because it is was so horrifying or awful, not because it was so .......but just because after all this time I still keep hearing that phrase ringing in my ears: "You could be wrong". !!!!! I doubted the veracity of my perceptions, (and of course they were just perceptions, my oh ever so faulty perceptions), couldn't rely on others perceptions because they varied greatly, from day to day, week to week, occasion to occasion. and because we are all such very complicated beings and our strands of Karma are so unfathomably interconnected, who am I to make any kind of judgments at all.

My two cents worth is that you are not in a bad place. As Jack Kornfield wrote one time, "You start with what you really know." I had considerable difficulty being honest enough to admit to myself I didn't know some of the things I thought I believed or wanted to believe.

At some point there is doubt even about the tenets of Buddhism. That's OK too. Buddhism isn't a belief based system anyhow; it's a behavior based system. If karma works, it works whether or not you believe in it. If it doesn't, it doesn't. Conscious belief and behavior are weakly connected but only weakly. I watch my behavior these days; I spend much less time on rationalizing whether or not its source was feelings, knowledge, intuition, karma or some sort of sensing.

There's a lot of research that indicates that the conscious mind is a master forger, a great storyteller, and an outrageous confabulator. The beliefs it fabricates to relieve its anxieties and feed its hopes are more a rationalization/explanation of behaviors rather than a controller of them. The only way out of this box I can see is to 1) fully accept uncertainty of what you think you know, 2) become closely aware of behavior, and 3) train the mind to deal with reality whether or not that fits the "beliefs" one wants or chooses.

I took the precepts not because I felt assured they were my salvation, but because they were wise constraints on behavior that I believed might help me. When my behavior brushes up against them, or occasionally overrides them, at least my commitment has made me stop and reflect on what is driving my behavior -- often with wholesome effect.
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Fri Jan 07, 2011 3:30 pm

Carol would it have helped you if you had heard in the beginning the stories of Jesus and Bodhidarma? Would it have helped you think a little more?
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:07 pm

Michael -- I wouldn't have had anything to do with an outfit whose founder and next-in-line thought they had previous lives as Jesus and Bodhidarma!
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:30 pm

Thank you Carol, I am sure other people feel exactly the same.
My point from all those years ago, was why hide it away from everyone?
I believe that if it came out ,Shasta would have been ostracised. People ,everyday people would have thought it wrong practice.
There could have been an explanation,but actually in Kennetts letter I wrote about it says something like do not believe any other stories.
Present day point is if the truth had been told , alot of people would not have suffered,and that includes everyone here who has suffered.
Is that breaking the precepts?

Take care and thanks for your answer
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:35 pm

Greetings Chisan

Thanks for the note, and very nicely put about which robe Shakyamuni passed on, sounds like a Koan, " Master, which one is the correct robe passed on by Shakyamuni?"....

Brigitte
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:59 am

Hello Howard,

and you had to add that little word "but", .....Sometimes, the big decisions in life are so often made without giving much thought to their possible consequenses, and then, not so strangely enough, you find yourself inextricably embroiled within this great big conundrum. which may take a few more existences to unravel. (Note, I have benevolently given myself a little escape clause here).

When I did meet up with the practice, at that time the Santa Barbara Buddhist Priory with R>M> Jisho being Pryor, I was SURE I had found "IT", and nobody could have convinced me otherwise, even though I had always been on the cautious side most of my life. So I wonder if anyone could have told me anything then that would have dissuaded me, one way or another. (Well, actually, past lives as Jesus and Bodhidharma might have done it), but I really had encountered a very beautiful, sacred practice and a very dedicated and devoted small Sangha there in Santa Barbara. The sincerity was real. What happened later on is too complicated for me to discuss on a forum.

Cheers to you as well

Best

Brigitte
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:08 am

Carol, Hi

Thanks for the reply, wonder if we ever met at Pine Mtn., I was there most of the time, so there is that possibility. I will write more tomorrow.

Warm regards

Brigitte
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:27 am

Hello Jack,

Don't think I can answer your reply without a cup of coffee, and right now it's too late. I am fading fast. Thanks, and talk to you tomorrow

Brigitte
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Sun Jan 09, 2011 12:43 am

Brigitte, I would like to hear about your experience. If is too complicated for the forum, perhaps you could send me a pm. You might remember me because I was the lay minister who lived in Seattle. In the mid- to late-1990s I worked a lot in LA and my firm had a condo there. So on Sundays, I would drive to Santa Barbara. I liked Rev. Jisho and his priory seemed open and informal so I felt comfortable there. Some things happened there, though, that I have always wondered about. I would like to hear more of your story when you feel comfortable about discussing it. Since resigning as a lay minister, I haven't heard a word from Rev. J. even though I had thought we were friends and he was the "check-in" monk I was supposed to keep in touch with.

Some questions -- I recall a married couple who were also introduced as monks, but I don't remember their names and never did understand how they could be monks. Do you know? Also do you remember a congregation member by the name of Anabelle?
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:50 am

Hi Carol

For me I think it works best to keep everything on the public forum, just in case someone needs to disagree with me or something. Only case for private e mail for me would be to ask a technical question. I will try to answer as short and condensed as possible.

I joined the S.B. Priory just about two months after R.M. Jiyu had died. At that time the Priory had already moved once from one location to the one on Tunnel Rd. Talk when I arrived was of possibly expanding the Priory and the need for Rev. M. Jisho to have some help since he had run the Priory alone for some years which was difficult. It was decided for Rev. M. Phoebe, from Throssel Hole, UK to come to S.B. and assist with all of this. After she arrived it became evident that because of restrictive bldg. code requirements and costs involved it would be better to look outside Santa Barbara where property was cheaper. This is in itsself a long story but eventually the property now known as Pine Mtn. Buddhist Temple was located, Tunnel Rd. Property sold and the Move to Pine Mtn. completed. Pine Mtn B.T. is located 43 miles above Ojai in the Los Padres National Forest, very beautiful, quite remote though and 83 miles or so from S.B. So, the S.B. Sangha now needed to travel 80 miles or so one way. The new property was a huge work project and now consists of more than 40 acres. It is a miracle in itsself how this all came about, all the work that was done, to make it into the property which it is now. Somewhat later it became obvious that more help was needed on a day to day basis, and Rev. M. Seikai who posessed great skills in the bldg. matters arrived from Shasta Abbey and became head monk.. Rev. M. Phoebe and Rev. M. Jisho who had tried Co-Priorship had very different ideas about teaching methods. Tensions arose, some people left, new ones came. Rev. Jisho, close to retirement age at that point, decided to retreat to the Abbey where he still lives today (happily I think?). I have not been to the Abbey or spoken to him for some years, since my health, eyesight is declining . For a while, Rev. Leon, from Shasta Abbey, also joined Pine Mtn., but later moved to an OBC Priory in North Carolina and is still greatly missed I might add. The residents now at Pine Mountain are Rev. M. Phoebe, Rev. M. Seikai and a lay trainee by the name of Maryanne Southham.

The people you asked about I believe are Gyozan and Shuyu Singer and I think they are still members of Pine Mtn. B.T. As for the other lady you asked about I believe was someone by the name of Arabella, who trained at the S.B. Priory for some time but I cannot remember ever seeing her at Pine Mtn. later.

The above is as short, factual and condensed as I could make it. I haven't added to it any of my "opinions", "observations", or "perceptions", because that is all it would be, "my perceptions", "my opinions", etc. I trained there for twelve years and learned a lot while I was at it. I met many monks of the OBC, some of them only shortly that I still hold in the highest regard. All and I emphasize "all" taught me something valuable. The beauty of the practice too, and most of all the practice of Metta, loving kindness which I hope I will never forget and by which I too am able to forget any of the past wrongs that I may have perceived as having been done to me.


With bows and in Gassho

Brigitte
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Mon Jan 10, 2011 10:50 am

breljo wrote:

The people you asked about I believe are Gyozan and Shuyu Singer and I think they are still members of Pine Mtn. B.T.

The beauty of the practice too, and most of all the practice of Metta, loving kindness which I hope I will never forget and by which I too am able to forget any of the past wrongs that I may have perceived as having been done to me.

Brigitte

Regarding Gyozan and Shuyu and the fact of their marriage, it's good to remember that RMJK originally supported (and perhaps even encouraged in some cases) marriage between monks. They lived at Shasta Abbey in the early 70's and also at Kannon Dell - the community in Mt Shasta created specifically for married trainees. In general marriage is permitted for monks in the Soto Zen tradition. RMJK eventually changed course in this regard, which has been talked about in other threads here.

Yes, the practice of loving kindness cures all ills. May we all come to it sooner rather than later.
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:50 pm

Bridgette
Forgetting past wrongs done to you that continue to be done to others is not necessarily a good thing. To remember the wrongs and work to prevent them reoccurring to yourself and others with a compassionate mind is far better.
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:57 pm

Hi all,

See Carol, Jack and Henry are basically telling me something important here. Jack says, that the mind is a great confabulator , storyteller, master forger to relieve it from the anxieties created by its beliefs. (This hits the spot), and made me think of an analogy. But first, I reread Henrys story again and also Carol account of Amalia. I am so very sorry Carol, and Henry too. That is the least I can say. So, anyway, I never experienced anything as drastic as that, in fact my teacher was very careful and I have to say compassionate, when anyone was sick. So, anyway, the analogy I thought of was when the Jews were being shipped off to the Gas Chambers in Germany, some people "knew" what was happening, some people only guessed that this "could" be happening, while others vehemently persuaded themselves to believe that these "Aryan" leaders with their lofty beliefs of superiority were"cleansing" the world of an evil, others even forced themselves to believe nothing untoward like this could be happeneing. Some did try to help as best they could and yet others were afraid of their own lives. Most were compliant to some degree, and were telling themselves various stories to "relieve their anxieties" so they would not have to deal with the messyness of the situation. So, yes, Henry, what you say is very true, we can't just forget past wrongs but should work compassionately so they will not recur again. You have a great grievance, so does Carol,(Amalia), in my case they were smaller but nevertheless finally the "small drops of water finally do fill the big bucket" type of things. Plus I was a great fan of Dogen, ( still am), loved the Shobogenzo, so for me I just may have been a big sissy . Yet even in the EIHEI SHINGI, I think in the chapters for temple administrators it says that sick people must be treated with tenderness and compassion. It is there. Compassion IS the key.

May all turn out for the best

Brigitte
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:10 am

Hi Brigette
You're quite right the first step is compassion (and the last) but at Shasta the Eihei Shingi got basically thrown out with HTGLB. There and, I believe, in 'The Book of Life' there are quite specific past life causes given for particular illnesses. Under those circumstances 'compassion' became making the sufferer 'face up' and confront their karma. Western, evidence based medicine went out the window with the inevitable suffering. Which, so typically for a cult, was / is argued as brought on oneself for not following the 'true practice'. The whole carefully assembled and soundly evidenced based structures of moderrn medicine and science are ditched in favour a few anecdotal stories about how someone somewhere once felt a little bit better after some form of esoteric eastern massage. And the fantasies and visions of a sick woman were built into a medical gospel which everyone, except her it seems, was expected to follow. So is it little wonder that sometimes a great deal of physical and mental damage was done.

Sorry for the rant, but the more I see just how sick, and sometimes depraved, the OBC has beeen during parts of its short history, the angrier I become with those who hide behind their twisted version of the 'Precepts' and a wall of silence and pretending it's all in the name of truth and compassion whilst ruining the lives of some of their followers. And the happier I am to be shot of it so I can return to the path of Dogen and reason.
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:33 am

Very well said Mark, I will enrol you for our weekly Cornish anger management group,it is made up of fishermen who have lost their rights to fish,Tin miners who have lost their tin mines,farmers who have lost their climates,and 1 zen monk who has lost his mind
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Wed Jan 12, 2011 6:20 pm

clearly suffering is so real; it exists... Maybe the path is not what is too often imagined. Look at your art ... what would it mean if you could not express it.

the vastness of it ... is so much more than teenagers studiously planning their life into a job

a good day --
dawn in my garden
stretching out for the whole day
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:29 pm

mstrathern wrote:
Hi Brigette
You're quite right the first step is compassion (and the last) but at Shasta the Eihei Shingi got basically thrown out with HTGLB. There and, I believe, in 'The Book of Life' there are quite specific past life causes given for particular illnesses. Under those circumstances 'compassion' became making the sufferer 'face up' and confront their karma. Western, evidence based medicine went out the window with the inevitable suffering. Which, so typically for a cult, was / is argued as brought on oneself for not following the 'true practice'. The whole carefully assembled and soundly evidenced based structures of moderrn medicine and science are ditched in favour a few anecdotal stories about how someone somewhere once felt a little bit better after some form of esoteric eastern massage. And the fantasies and visions of a sick woman were built into a medical gospel which everyone, except her it seems, was expected to follow.

The whole tone of expiation by means of pain, redemption by suffering is a very strong Christian hangover that I've only found Buddhist literature from the OBC. The Buddhist message is all about liberation from suffering. The HTHLB is also filled with other very strong Christian imagery of being cleansed in fountains, the washing away of impurities -- I could quote Christian hymns that are built about around those themes. Even in the OBC version of Dogen' Rules for Meditation, there's phrasing about "almost lost the way to salvation."

As a former Christian, this really stood out to me. I was glad to find when I read wider in Buddhism that the Christian slant simply wasn't there except as added by Jiyu. I'm not really anti-Christian, but a hack job of trying to paste Buddhism and Christianity together was confusing for a while. Cosmic Buddhas that are consulted like a Christian's "What would Jesus have me do?" or an Eternal that becomes a depersonalized God was just misleading. I've come to the conclusion that Jiyu never really gave up Christianity -- that she really wanted Buddhism and Christianity to be the same thing -- to somehow marry them so she could feel at home. Not good Buddhism in opinion.
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breljo

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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:22 pm

Mark,

GULP, GULP,.................... yeah, it is the great divide, between science and religion. and somewhere in between are all of us trying to find our True Way..............

Chisan

You really are very funny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Albert

I really like that last line of yours, how many more wonderful days are before us..... I'm seventy years old and lately feel at times I'm not going to make it through the rest of the week. My doctor just said to me if you don't have high blood pressure, haven't had cancer by the time you're seventy you are likely to live another twenty years (statistically). I think she was TRYING to cheer me up with that!!!!!!!. I thought of your last line then and realized how ungrateful my thought was. So, thanks for reminding me.

Brigitte
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:37 pm

Brigette - no divide, each true simultaneously in their own realm just important not to confuse them.

Mike - if they can guarantee me no mind I'll certainly sign up for the course
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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:45 pm

Hi Jack,

Quote :

The whole tone of expiation by means of pain, redemption by suffering is a very strong Christian hangover that I've only found Buddhist literature from the OBC. The Buddhist message is all about liberation from suffering.

Yes, you are pointing to similarity. But when you say "The whole tone of expiation by means of pain, redemption by suffering is a very strong Christian hangover that I've only found Buddhist literature from the OBC." you are clearly wrong:

1 - One day the Fifth Patriarch told his monks to express their wisdom in a poem. Whoever had true realization of his original nature (Buddha Nature) would be ordained the Sixth Patriarch. The head monk, Shen Hsiu, was the most learned, and wrote the following:

The body is the wisdom-tree,
The mind is a bright mirror in a stand;
Take care to wipe it all the time,
And allow no dust to cling.

2 - The Buddhist practice of purification - dealing with reincarnation [see http://www.many-lives.com/]

3 - " The characteristic features of the new method of the Constant Walking Samadhi, which was called fudan nembutsu (constant nembutsu), can be listed as follows: 1) The length of the period of practice has been shortened from 90 days to 7 days, from the 11th to the 17th days of
the eighth month during the autumn full moon; 2) Besides the nembutsu recitation, the Amida Sutra is chanted; 3) By this practice one hopes to expiate one’s evil karma. Although the newly instituted melodious nembutsu chanting is apparently different from the meditative nembutsu of the Constantly Walking Samadhi originated by Chih-i (Chigi), we
should note two facts which explain the development of the nembutsu from Chih-i to Fa-chiao, and then to Ennin." [see http://shingondharmazazen.wordpress.com/2007/11/15/biographies-of-dharma-masters/]


Please note item (3) on a Buddhist practice to expiate one's evil's karma.

So what does this all mean: Jiyu-Kenneth experimented with how to present Zen to a western audience and she tried many things, and borrowed freely. The use of Christianity is not a Christianization of Zen but an attempt to create a bridge to Zen through what was commonplace for people. Now this worked for some and backfired for others (like yourself). It is also to be noted that many "experiments" were also abandoned. She setup the meals using Japanese Zen forms but setup the kitchen (quality and type of food) from a Benedictine influence of having food at a very high quality. Does that make Shasta Abbey a Benedictine monastry, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Maybe what is important here is the she did not share your aversion to Christianity and she used Christian terminology and music but does that make what she was doing Christian: absolutely not. You are not going to find Christians feeling comfortable with the Eternal as Dharmakaya.

It's ok to dislike or hate Jiyu-Kenneth, but don't conflate personal issues with what she tried to do with Zen in the West. Remember, from Koho Zenji, the bride's white dress was ready for dying: so you don't like some of the dye she used, ok. I don't like the idea of Jiyu-Kenneth as a husband: through she might have been a good husband.

Dude! If you can't love peace; then feel the love.
.
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Fri Jan 21, 2011 7:00 am

Quote :
Buddhist practice of purification - dealing with reincarnation [see http://www.many-lives.com/ ]
Thanks for that, Albert. The copyright holder, J (?James) Denosky, has some very interesting websites.

Quote :
Although...nembutsu chanting is apparently different from the meditative nembutsu of the Constantly Walking Samadhi originated by Chih-i (Chigi), we should note two facts which explain the development of the nembutsu from Chih-i to Fa-chiao, and then to Ennin." [see http://shingondharmazazen.wordpress.com/2007/11/15/biographies-of-dharma-masters/][/b]
Just in case anyone has had trouble with this link, try it without the end "][/b]" characters, thus:

http://shingondharmazazen.wordpress.com/2007/11/15/biographies-of-dharma-masters/

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gensho



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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:43 pm

Quote :

1 - One day the Fifth Patriarch told his monks to
express their wisdom in a poem. Whoever had true realization of his
original nature (Buddha Nature) would be ordained the Sixth Patriarch.
The head monk, Shen Hsiu, was the most learned, and wrote the following:

The body is the wisdom-tree,
The mind is a bright mirror in a stand;
Take care to wipe it all the time,
And allow no dust to cling.

Let us remember that this poem was considered inadequate by the Fifth Patriarch and Shen Hsiu was asked to compose another.

Hui Neng, who became the Sixth Patriarch, composed:
Bodhi doesn't have any trees
This mirror doesn't have a stand
Our buddha nature is forever pure
Where do you get this dust?
(Red Pine translation. p. 106)

Kennett Roshi only reached as far as the poem of Shen Hsiu. While that poem speaks a truth of training, it falls short. KR's teaching of HGLB, Book of Life and the subsequent teachings are all to tell the disciple that KR will know when your mirror is clean, not you. That KR has the techniques needed to properly wipe away the dust and you do not.

KR was not able to point directly to the pure (empty) mind as the Hui Neng does with his question 'where do you get this dust?' This radical question cuts through all teaching and returns directly to the Buddha's original teaching that the words only point the way. A thousand words cannot convey the taste of one bite. KR piled words on words, complexity on complexity, rules, ranks, all of it just because she didn't know how to pass the plate and allow others to take a bite and taste for themselves.

Once KR accepted that her visions in 76 were 'real' then the 'dust' had 'alighted' and she no longer could wipe that mirror. From then on KR needed to be 'the way', and to train directly with KR you had to take in her teaching without objection. No longer able to train herself, she insisted on controlling every aspect of how others would train.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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Join date : 2010-11-17

PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Sat Jan 22, 2011 5:01 pm

Gensho I have to again tell the story of Ikko Roshi leaving Eiheji. He had spent several years there as the Godo Roshi , the teaching Roshi, giving talks and leading the monks. When his term was up and he returned to his own temple to resume Abbotship, He left in the simple robes of a travelling monk.

The monks came to see their teacher off,and were surprised to see him dressed in such a simple way. When Ikko Roshi arrived at the main gate , he turned and did full bows to all the monks, of course thay all bowed back to their teacher.

This simple act of humility, love and affection,taught them most probably more, than all the words and scriptures.

I got on well with the old man,and as I have told you privately,the only time we argued or fought was when I asked him if I could be his disciple. With great love and affection he threw me out.
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albertfuller

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PostSubject: Re: Lay Ministry    Sat Jan 22, 2011 5:31 pm

gensho wrote:

Let us remember that this poem was considered inadequate by the Fifth Patriarch and Shen Hsiu was asked to compose another.

Hui Neng, who became the Sixth Patriarch, composed:
Bodhi doesn't have any trees
This mirror doesn't have a stand
Our buddha nature is forever pure
Where do you get this dust?
(Red Pine translation. p. 106)

Kennett Roshi only reached as far as the poem of Shen Hsiu. While that poem speaks a truth of training, it falls short.
Hi Gensho ... what you have said are all great points; but the purpose of using that quote was for the purpose of showing that here was a Zen monk who had a concern for redemption to address the specific comment: "redemption by suffering is a very strong Christian hangover that I have only found in Buddhist literature from the OBC."

Now how good a monk was Shen Hsiu, or the level of his insight, is not important at this point. He was the head monk of a Zen monastery was he not and his poem shows what john said does not occur in Buddhism. I gave quotes from various Buddhist groups who express the concern that John says is lacking in Buddhist literature, but is a Christian hangover (probably he meant hangup) only to be found in OBC literature.

So, in brief, it was a simple point to show the falseness of the claim by quoting Buddhist literature from various Buddhist schools on a topic that was not suppose to be there.

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