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 The Cosmic Buddha said what?????

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Sat Jan 01, 2011 1:48 pm

So i am going to start a new topic / discussion.

About the "Cosmic Buddha" - how Kennett talked about this idea/entity, how she began to have dialogues with this Cosmic Buddha, asking advice frequently, and how this idea, among other aspects of how she taught, pushed Shasta towards an approach that became an amalgam of her own brand of Christianity / monotheism / Soto Zen / and a little bit of the occult.

more of this later
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Sat Jan 01, 2011 2:15 pm

The interesting thing here is why did kennett have the great teendancy to have her religion based on everything outside herself There is the saying see the self study the self drop the self be enlightened by all things, but Kennett I think because she did not formally sit zazen based her teaching on external things. We could not query or critisice the cosmic buddha, as we did not know anything about the Cosmic Buddha, what we did not know, was nor did anyone else
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:07 am

In 1976, "The Cosmic Buddha" told us not to vote for Jimmy Carter for President, not to buy a Ford or Chevy truck and assured us that a scam artist was going to facilitate a one million dollar donation to Shasta Abbey.

Well, "The Cosmic Buddha" didn't tell me this directly, he told Kennett this because she was asking him questions and for advice frequently, many times each day, and getting answers - and then passing these instructions on to us.

I am not making this up. There is no exaggeration. I didn't misunderstand anything. I am pointing this out in case any current followers of the OBC are secretly tuning in to these posts. It is a preemptive strike, so to speak.

But I am getting a bit ahead of myself.

When Kennett began her "lotus blossom" period, she went into a mid-life crisis - literally. She started to fall apart. Of course, later this was all portrayed as one of the great spiritual experiences in modern history, but what I saw was a breakdown. Now, key point -- going through a crisis, having a breakdown is NOT a negative thing - for someone like Kennett, it can actually be a very positive development of self-discovery if you deal with it honestly and humbly, but that was not to be.

I want to bring in the Enneagram again here to make a point. When an Ennea-type Eight experiences serious stress, their intense power system goes into a complete meltdown. As Michael Goldberg notes, "Eights at Stress Point Five feel their power dry up. That is truly stressful, even terrifying, for an Eight. Under stress, an Eight may feel like she's losing it or falling apart." He notes this key point that is especially relevant to what happens with Kennett next -- Eights fall into severe doubt and feel that they don't have enough facts to decide what to do next - which normally wouldn't give an Eight pause.

In her crisis, one main symptom is a paralysis, she can't make decisions about anything. She is racked with doubt - which is terrifying to her, as to all Eights. Now remember, Kennett is the ultimate boss. Up until then, she makes ALL the decisions at Shasta. ALL. Every little thing needs to be brought to her attention and she rules. When I was guestmaster, I couldn't buy a pillowcase without her approval and even then, she would go into town and buy it herself, quite sure I couldn't do it right.

So now,she simply can't decide about anything for fear that she will make the wrong decision, as opposed to the "right" decision. She even gives up running Shasta and hands it me to be the "administrator" or president - a position I really did not want - and which I won't go into now -- too much information.

So everything ground to a halt. She was the only one who could decide on nearly everything, yet she just couldn't respond. She would literally become weepy and panicky if asked to decide nearly anything. Truly.

I don't remember precisely how it began, but since she / Kennett could not be sure that she would make the absolute "right" decision, she simply couldn't say anything herself, but "The Cosmic Buddha" could make the absolute right decision. So she began this practice of asking "The Cosmic Buddha" for the right answer to nearly every question, issue that would come up.

She would close her eyes, nod her head down a bit as if listening intensely, and ask the question - whatever it was, and then wait a few seconds to hear this inner Cosmic Buddha voice that would say yes or no. Or sometimes she would ask for a bit more information. So this small voice inside her was "The Cosmic Buddha." And that was the absolute right answer. Whew, no responsibility. Just follow the voice. Forget information, other people's opinions or advice, research, common sense. Just ask the Cosmic Buddha for the answer.

When she started doing this, she somewhat relaxed because now there was certainty, the right answers were coming through. She wasn't terrified that she would so something wrong.

She then started asking all the senior monks around her to do the same thing, ask the Cosmic Buddha - to make sure we were all getting the same answer. Of course, we waited for Kennett to get the "right" answer first and we followed along. Surprise, surprise - we all got the same answer.

This process made me very uncomfortable to say the least. This was more like channeling or psychic readings and had nothing to do with Buddhism. And the entire concept of 'The Cosmic Buddha" had been seeping into Kennett's teaching more and more and to me, it was just another word for God - monotheism. Where did Shakyamuni Buddha talk about THE Cosmic Buddha? And now THE Cosmic Buddha was like a Quija board or magic Eight ball.

Kennett was consulting the Cosmic Buddha many times per day.

(At one point, as the president of the Abbey, i was renewing the fire insurance. And she told me not to do it. We don't need insurance she said. Buying insurance meant that I doubted the protection and power of the Cosmic Buddha. Don't buy insurance she said. I ignored her advice and did it anyway.)

I remember a few key examples:

We needed to buy a truck. I had done my homework, checked out Consumer Reports, looked in the local papers for good prices, and so on. But Kennett insisted that she come along -- we certainly could not be allowed to do this ourselves. So we drove into the Ford lot, got out to look at some trucks, but within two minutes, Kennett said, "No, the Cosmic Buddha says NO." Then we went to the Chevy lot, and the same thing happened. The Cosmic Buddha did not like Fords or Chevys. We then ended up at some obscure lot that sold International Harvester trucks -- doubt if they still even make them. These were not highly rated and did not have a good repair record, but these trucks were very very bland looking - beige, no style at all. Well, the Cosmic Buddha liked these trucks. So that's what we bought.

The 1976 election was coming up. This was right after Nixon had resigned in the Watergate scandal and Gerald Ford was running against Jimmy Carter. Eugene McCarthy was also on the ballot and so were a bunch of obscure independent candidates. I think Kennett was an American citizen by then and she did watch the news and encouraged the monks to vote.

BUT one day she said, we can't just vote for whoever we like, we have to ask The Cosmic Buddha who we should vote for. Who does The Cosmic Buddha like for president? Uh-oh I thought. That's not how I make my political decisions. So Kennett started asking the Cosmic Buddha. Should we vote for Gerald Ford? No, she got from The Cosmic Buddha (thank goodness, i thought.) Should we vote for Jimmy Carter? No, said The Cosmic Buddha. (Oy vey, i thought). Eugene McCarthy? No, again. (This was a very odd Cosmic Buddha.) She finally got a YES for some obscure candidate, i think he was from the Socialist Worker Party or something like that. Luckily, there was no way Kennett would know who I voted for, but this was getting totally bizarre.

Lastly, we had a strange situation and of course Kennett dragged in The Cosmic Buddha. Here is as best as I can remember it. We got this large package of information from a person we did not know. He said he was an entrepreneur and mineral rights expert. The letter and background information said that he had laid claim to the oil and gas rights to hundreds of thousands of acres of water in the Gulf of Mexico and he was donating these rights to five non-profit organizations, Shasta being one of them. And he said that the value of these rights would be huge, in the many millions of dollars.

But there was one catch. In order to secure these rights and get the money from the oil and gas companies, these five organizations needed to hire a law firm and pursue their legal claims and he urged the groups to band together to do this. The whole thing sounded fishy. Also it was clear that this fellow was not going to cover any legal costs and that this legal team would also somehow represent him for free - because he still had some of the mineral rights.

Kennett was in the room when I first received this package so knew about this. One day she calls me to her house and tells me excitedly that the Cosmic Buddha told her that we would get at least one million dollars from this claim. One million dollars for sure, she said.

Well, notwithstanding this certain declaration from the Cosmic Buddha, I went to a legal library in Berkeley when i was down there, and as best I could determine - and i was no legal scholar -- these kind of mineral and oil and gas claims had been found to be bogus by the courts - many times. I even met the guy who sent us the package and it seemed like some scam to me. I even called one of the other organizations that he was donating these claims to and they said they didn't take these claims seriously.

But just to be sure, a friend of mine in Los Angeles who was a corporate lawyer agreed to review the documents and give me a formal legal opinion. I saw her in LA when I was visiting my parents, and the first thing she said to me was 'NO DICE." She confirmed that these claims had been clearly declared by the federal courts to be illegitimate.

So The Cosmic Buddha was not quite so cosmic after all. He certainly was not up on the latest federal statutes. When you get into this kind of channeling or psychic readings, a word to the wise -- stay away from predictions of the future. They are usually wrong - and then the whole process loses credibility. What kind of cosmic buddha is this that falls for a scam?

Beyond this channeling process that Kennett feel into, there is much more we can discuss about how Kennett became much more Christian in her world view, how God crept in as the Cosmic Buddha, and many other Christian and dualistic concepts found their way into the practice.

But more on that later.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:25 am

Well Josh we are getting closer to the hub,the dualistic concept,
Lets go back to gensho saying he rarely if ever saw kennett sit zazen ,the trouble with not practicing zazen,is one tends to practice conceptual zen,or conceptual spirituality.or bottom line one is full of concepts.Koans are a good approach,or a real teacher can help too.
I left in 76 because the experiences were dualistic, we can't addord the few hundred dollars for the lotus book, but I am sure it will be full of dualism.
I read your other post too I think that actually what kennett fear was a desciple , or student being spiritualy autonomous, if they did,they would see through the cosmic buddha.
An interesting question for me here, was waht financial position was the Abbey in at this time? the story of the oil rights is interesting,because it does not say much for the basic inteligence of the Cosmic Buddha. By the way the Cosmic Buddha said you might be the one who afford the lotus book and lend it to me !
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:26 am

Two things strike me about this thread/story.

One is Wow. I never knew things got that bizarre. A Cosmic Buddha that repeatedly makes poor choices and bad mistakes.

The second is this prevalent tying of Buddhism to Christianity. Jiyu's Buddhism is very like some of the fringes of Christianity.

I did of course, even as a lay person hear of the Cosmic Buddha. It was one of the things that troubled me; it seemed too akin to God (like everyone talking frequently, reverently and solemnly about the ETERNAL) and very like the Christians I grew up with who heard the voice of God somehow directing the smallest aspect of their life. (When Christians tell my MD brother about hearing the voice of God,, he tells them he has medicine that will cure that.)

That coupling of Buddhism to Christianity was one of the troubling things I found about the OBC, it's ceremonial, language, Buddhist Christmas carols and adaptation of Christian hymns all seemed like a desperate attempt to marry the fragments of Jiyu's Buddhist and Christian experience . It produced a gawky mentally impaired child quite inferior to either parent. When I discussed this with the monk, he explained that this was adaptation of the Buddhism to the West -- pretty much a stroke of Jiyu's genius and a significant contribution to Buddhism as a whole. It wasn't be be questioned any more than any other of her acts..
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:41 am

Interesting reply Jake, I am completely with you on that. What were the carols I have not heard of them can you explain them to me please. I remember seeing a japanese monk in about 75 whose first reaction to me wearing sort of Christiany robes with a rakksu was,what you dressed like that for?
I think largactle ( cant spell it sorry) would be a good drug for your brother to prescribe.
And still we do have to ask how does Zen come from the east
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jack



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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:32 am

At the Priory I attended, we were instructed to adapt Christmas to Buddhism using Buddhist tree ornaments, etc. And there was some festival celebrated around Christmas that used a prolonged series of music to celebrate the Buddha's birth, enlightenment -- I don't exactly remember now -- but I labored to get the music on several CDs so it could be used as background music -- to guide our discordant voices as well as cover up our nonmelodic attempts to follow them.. As I recall some of the music came from Christmas carols with the words twisted to use Buddhist rather than Christian content. I stayed away from the festival, so I didn't suffer much dissonance from it.

I dutifully ignored such things. I'm an adult. I can take Christmas as it is, for what it is. I even enjoy some of the Christmas carols because they resonate with my childhood. I don't fall into Buddhist heresy or back into Christianity by enjoying them, but I don't want them tortured into Buddhist indoctrination. I don't need a Buddhist substitute for Christmas. I enjoyed playing Santa for my child. I didn't become a devotee and follower of Santa by doing so.
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Karen



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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:45 am

As I mentioned on another thread, abebooks.com lists a number of copies of HTGLB for sale, starting at $5.40 US. Several others are under $20.00. I also have a spare copy I was thinking of taking to the local used bookstore. Chisanmichaelhughes, if you are serious about wanting to borrow it, write me privately and we can work out details.

Cheers,
Karen
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Robert
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:21 am

Karen,
I saw your reference to "HTGLB" on the other thread as well - sorry to be slow, but what is it?!!
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:41 am

Sorry -- lazy typing. How To Grow A Lotus Blossom = HTGLB. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:53 am

In Kennett's teachings, you can notice this equivalents

God = The Cosmic Buddha
Soul = Buddha Nature
Heaven = Nirvana
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:11 pm

Did she have one for the devil?
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Karen



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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 1:11 pm

I think that the reason that the Christian stuff in the OBC didn't bother me is that one of my beliefs is that all the major wisdom traditions (of which Christianity and Buddhism are two) point to the same things, using different languages and symbols specific to the cultures from which they spring. So the idea of "Westernizing" Buddhism to make it more palatable to people like me (as the OBC mythology goes) made sense to me. And seeing parallels between the OBC and Christian cosmologies seemed natural rather than peculiar. Since I was learning about Buddhism through the OBC, discrepancies between it and "truer" forms of Buddhism weren't a problem for me. In fact, I'm not sure I could have related well enough to the more purely Eastern strains that made their way to the States. So in my case, the hybridization did it's job of making their Buddhist teachings more accessible to me.

One of the main things that originally turned me off Christianity back when I was going through confirmation school is the assertion that they have the true story and the rest of the world doesn't. Since it seems pretty universal that religions believe that their truth is truer than the truth of other religions, it seems to me more likely that they're all wrong on that point than that one of them is right and I just need to figure out which one that is.

I have other related thoughts, but I must go now...

-Karen
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 1:34 pm

Thanks Karen, I knew it had to be something obvious - once you know what it is!
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 2:35 pm

In bringing up this topic, I began with some specific stories -- of how Kennett played this out and lived this in daily life. I decided not to start with "philosophy."

What happened at Shasta was total confusion. Kennett first had a minimal grounding in basic Buddhism and Soto Zen. She spent much more time connected to the Church of England. And westerners in general, grow up in a culture of monotheism, God and this general Judeo-Christian concepts and stories - often unquestioned.

Secondly, when she assumed the role of the Zen "master" - and as an Enneagram Eight - she had to be certain about everything, had to be all knowing, had to have all the answers. In reality, she was not all knowing, not fully enlightened or whatever you want to call it, but that was the role.

She also made up things as she went along. As as she went through her mid-life crisis, the Christian side of things, the need for a God became louder in her mind and a part of her teaching. From what I saw here on the site also, she started talking about how the first kensho was "stream entry" and the third kensho was "arahant" -- so now she is mixing in Theravada and Hinayana. To me, it was obvious she wasn't clear at all about what she was teaching - but instead of stopping and acknowledging it, she keep on teaching, so whatever came into her head, was by definition the true Dharma. Including channeling The Cosmic Buddha and telling us who we should vote for.

What confusion.
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Iain

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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:08 pm

Jcbaran wrote:
Kennett first had a minimal grounding in basic Buddhism and Soto Zen. She spent much more time connected to the Church of England.

What you write here is demonstrably untrue.

Like it or not Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett indisputably completed her formal Buddhist training in Japan and her understanding and transmission as a roshi was confirmed by two of the most senior roshis in the Soto-shu at the time. She also spent longer working as a teacher of Buddhism than she even did associated with the Anglican communion. I have also personally heard senior monks here in Japan who visited Shasta in the 1980's and 1990's speak highly of the developing community they found there.

I have a question for you. All your 'experiences' that you clearly enjoy rehearsing on this forum took place 35-40 years ago. When and where was your last actual contact with any OBC temple or community?

It seems to me that you are busily mocking something of which you have no contemporary experience whatsoever.
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:16 pm

Iain,
You are correct. This is why I and others have repeatedly asked for direct contact with the OBC. We have tried to make it clear that the format and rules of the discussion can be negotiated. Unfortunately the OBC chooses not to engage, so we are left with our own past experiences and the more recent experiences of people like Diana, Amalia, Laura, Polly and others. I'd love to engage directly with the OBC, but not one person at time at the OBC headquarters. If you can help establish a means to direct contact I would be most appreciative.

Seikai attempted to do this and was met with what sounded like total indifference. As for the Sotu shu saying that all was well, that was not my experience when I was very ill and not even provided with a car ride to medical treatment. When I collapsed on a public lawn in Walnut Creek and barely made it to the doctor, who was a lay member of the OBC, Rev. Kennett was furious when Eko gave me ride back in her car. I don't need the Soto shu to tell me that behavior was acceptable. Frankly, if they think it's OK, they are welcome to live with their judgment. Catholism is filled with Saints and Popes who I have no interest in replacing my own judgment and good sense. I will not allow anyone, no matter how high ranking in whatever circles, replace my good judgment and common sense. If that works for you, you have every right to rely on such things. I just choose not to follow suit.

I know what I experienced and I have heard my story repeated in many of the stories recounted on this site. You have seen and experienced what you have of the OBC and I'm very glad your experience has been positive for you. But if you think your positive experience negate mine and others' experience, you are sadly mistaken.


Last edited by Henry on Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:29 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:24 pm

The stories that Josh and others have told about Jiyu Kennett on this forum may have happened decades ago, but her legacy lives on today in her disciples.

Stories very similar to the ones Josh relates in this thread (and I love the title "The Cosmic Buddha said what??") could be told about some of the senior OBC monks who are practicing and teaching today. To me, the stories about Jiyu Kennett are not just eye openers about the past, but they cast light on the monks who are authorized by the OBC to teach today and the so-called "skillful means" which the OBC permits the monks to use on their followers.

The OBC has a long tradition of conducting its affairs in secret, not discussing problems openly, and suppressing criticism. That tradition persists today, and from what I read in this forum, the source most likely is the founder, Jiyu Kennett.

This forum is the ONLY place I have ever heard any serious critical analysis of Jiyu Kennett's practices and teaching. The stories told by the pre-1980 monks are invaluable because they were first-hand observers and they are the ONLY source of rational criticism about the early days.

I have nothing but respect for those of you who gave years and years of your lives to Jiyu Kennett, then realized you had to leave. I want to hear from you even if it offends those who are still monks or are still happy training with OBC monks today.
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:31 pm

Iain,
In case you read my post before Carol posted hers, I have added important points I hope you read.
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 9:54 pm

Iain,
My post of 1/3/11 on the Making it Known: Why I left the OBC thread has some thoughts pertinent to the concerns you expressed above. I'd appreciate your feedback on that post and my response to your post above.
Thank you,
Henry
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:00 pm

I want to return to a number of points raised by Henry and Carol but I will wait until Josh himself first responds to the challenge and question I have made.

To summarise, I have asserted that what he as written in his entry yesterday is in error in two important respects. Contrary to his statement that "Kennett first had a minimal grounding in basic Buddhism and Soto Zen. She spent much more time connected to the Church of England" I have asserted that Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett was formally recognised by her seniors and peers in the Soto-shu as a roshi and as a qualified teacher of Buddhism, and also that she did not have a longer associated with the Anglican communion than with Buddhism

I also asked him to confirm when and where was his last actual contact with any OBC temple or community?

With Bows

Iain
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:03 pm

I think (to paraphrase one of Henry's posts from another thread today) that our chances of engaging the OBC in discussion, are just about 0%--unless, that is, we can, in effect, combine what most of us on the forum are saying, with what Iain and some of us on the forum are saying.

Such a combined message is not a contradiction, and it does not limit or dilute the truth of either perspective. Nor does it require that anyone hold both viewpoints.

Without an approach that combines both viewpoints however, I can't imagine the OBC, as an institution, having any motivation to engage in conversation.
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:11 pm

thank you, Kozan -
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:35 pm

Kozan,

Can you illustrate what that combined message would look like? I'm feeling a bit dense at the moment.

Thank you,
mokuan

PS to Chisan Michael: Mara was the term used for evil.
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:15 pm

I would like to mention that one of RMJK's senior disciples, who had been named as a roshi, wound up having a severe mental breakdown at one point and had to be forcibly removed from the Abbey property. He has never been allowed back. I was not there at the time, so any information I have about this is hearsay and as a result is likely to not be completely accurate. I was told by Eko however, that this monk spent much of his time asking the Cosmic Buddha before acting on even trivial matters. An example I was given was that he would ask the Cosmic Buddha if it was alright to eat at mealtime and what foods he should take. Whether or not this practice produced the monk's mental collapse or was an after effect of an already extant illness is not something I can speak to. What I can say with certainty is that Eko told me that this experience with the mentally unstable monk caused Shasta Abbey to stop this practice of asking the Cosmic Buddha about what to do, at least publicly. They stopped teaching it to laity and were very guarded in how it was taught and used within the monastic community. This appears to have been quite a reversal from previous teaching and lends credence to the information that Josh has posted about RMJK's behavior during her "lotus blossom" period. I thought you might find this information pertinent and useful.
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:43 pm

In the Lotus Blossom period Jiyu was a very sick woman physically and I now realise from all that I have heard here mentally. From the earliest days she was a bossy woman, nothing particularly wrong in that just a character trait, but with her illness she became increasingly overbearing and authoritarian. Some of us chose to leave rather than be caught up in a sick woman's fantasies. I left because if I had stayed I would have had to give up my rather halting search for the truth and repudiated my bodhisattva's vow and get sucked into the fantasies. I have not always followed the correct path since then but my mistakes are my mistakes and I would not teach them to others as the truth. Those who ended up staying chose, and that is the important word chose, to do just that; to actively take on board a poor sick woman's fantasies and authoritarianism and to teach them as the truth. I'm sure that some got sucked in and believed it but I'm equally sure that some just went along with it for their own ends. We who left at that time share some responsibility, at least I feel I do. Together we should have stood up more clearly and changed things. I think that together we perhaps had the power to do so, but we did not join the sangha to exercise power, however when things started to go badly wrong we should have done so.

It maybe 35 or 40 years since then but 'the evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones'. So was it with Jiyu. I am sure there are good individuals within the OBC who search for the truth, but equally there are many who suppress the truth and are spreading fantasies and lies as the truth, often as we have seen here for their own ends. This is the evil that lives after Jiyu.

It would be difficult, but quite possible, for the OBC to choose to put this behind it in a positive manner. One would only need to say that at one time Jiyu was very ill and that this had led to distortions in the dharma that she taught. This would allow for a reformation of the organisation and what is taught because there was much that was good there before the sick fantasies took hold.

On this last point I notice that 'How to Grow a Lotus Blossom' (HGLB) is no longer available through the OBC. Is this a quiet dropping of the more outlandish fantasies, in which case it should be done more openly and more publicly. On the other hand if it has been withdrawn because it is too advanced a 'truth' for general consumption and is only for superior beings then this compounds the evil. It is evil because what is being taught is being used to suck in searchers after the truth into choosing sickness, falsehoods and lies, which as we have seen on this site will cost them dear to repudiate. All this whilst the perpetrators sit comfortably and smugly accept, and indeed demand, the deference and honour they so little deserve.

Rev. Seikai, and others, it is no good saying 'I just get on with my training, the other stuff has nothing to do with me'. In so doing you choose to help spread the overbearing authoritarianism, lies and fantasies. If you do not stand up and choose to repudiate the falsehoods then you are choosing to continue them. The truth itself is very simple it stares us in the face all the time, all the rest is gilding the lily.
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:53 pm

Well said, Mark. A simple acceptance of she was very ill at times which caused distortions, is a kind way to treat the delusions.
As far as HTGLB, maybe they couldn't find a publisher. On the other hand, I do notice the windows in the hondo have been replaced and are not painted in lotus blossom scenes. Hmmm... Interesting!
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:19 am

Mokuan, that is fantastic spotting on the change in windows. I would be interested in finding out what prompted that replacement.

Regarding publishers, though, Shasta Abbey now generally publishes it's own books and has made many publications available online in pdf format. It is interesting that they did not make HTGLB available in the same way.
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:20 am

Iain --

My last contact with Shasta / Kennett was when I left in 1977. Thankfully. I have never said otherwise.

I am mostly addressing my experiences with Kennett from 1969-77. You can believe my experiences or not. Yes, that was some years ago, but this is a forum to address these matters. Those who ignore the past are condemned to repeat it. And if the Zen community can tell tales of Dogen and Manzan, we can certainly addresses issues that just happened a few decades ago.

And from my experience with many religious organizations that become cultic -- which this group did -- certainly under Kennett -- the shadow of the teacher / guru / roshi is played out in the culture of the organization. What is happening at the OBC now I have no idea and I am not commenting on that.

The fact that a few Japanese monks visited Shasta, were no doubt given the royal treatment, and came back and said some nice things, well, big surprise. This proves what exactly?

Just because someone is certified as a teacher or master or bishop or pope does not somehow mean that they are perfect or enlightened or divine or beyond criticism. Reality tells me otherwise. Behavior tells me otherwise. Simple common sense tells me otherwise.

I talked to too many women (and some men) who were molested by various roshis to believe otherwise. And just because some has a high rank, so what? Really. The Buddha himself said not to be impressed by titles and authority.

I respect Kennett's going to Japan. I respect her early training and dedication. I am grateful for those early years when her teaching was straight forward and simple. But what happened later was abusive and at times delusional and harmful. and i don't care what pieces of paper or silk she had, or what title she was given, her behavior completely eclipsed all that. And speaking out to me is Dharma, is truth telling.

and in terms of my opinion about Kennett's understanding of Buddhism, that's my take on what I saw. What she taught in the last two years I was there was very confused and way off track. And still, decades later, and after continuing my Dharma studies and training, I haven't changed my take on this.
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:34 am

More quotes from THE GURU PAPERS:

"The person most at risk of being strangled by the images demanded by the role of the guru is the guru. This includes the great danger of emotional isolation. . . At the heart of the ultimate trap is building and becoming attached to the image of oneself as having arrived at a state where self-delusion is no longer possible. This is the most treacherous form of self-delusion and a veritable breeding ground of hypocrisy and deception. It creates a feedback-proof system where the guru always needs to be right and cannot be open to being shown wrong – which is where learning comes from." (p.107)

"Successful gurus, rock stars, charismatic leaders of any sort, experience the intensity of adulation amplified beyond most people’s ken. This can make ordinary relationships pale by comparison. Being the recipient of such adulation and devotion is exceedingly addictive. Here addiction is used in its loose sense to mean mechanically needing an on-going ‘fix’ of adulation to where it becomes the central focus of one’s life. Adulation has powerful emotions for the sender as well, and can be easily mistaken for love. It is likewise addicting for the sender, as it is an easy route to feelings of passion. Since adulation is totally a function of image, should the images crack, adulation disappears,demonstrating that it is essentially empty of real care." (p.112)
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:54 am

Josh wrote:

About the "Cosmic Buddha" - how Kennett talked about this idea/entity, how she began to have dialogues with this Cosmic Buddha, asking advice frequently, and how this idea, among other aspects of how she taught, pushed Shasta towards an approach that became an amalgam of her own brand of Christianity / monotheism / Soto Zen / and a little bit of the occult.

My understanding is that when the Buddha found his enlightenment, he said: Achieved is the end of craving, not I've found god -- or the cosmic buddha.
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:51 am

Mokuan wrote:

Kozan,

Can you illustrate what that combined message would look like? I'm feeling a bit dense at the moment.

Thank you,
mokuan

Mokuan, good question!

I think that the first, and perhaps most important manifestation of it, is when we, on this forum, with our diverse views, are able to hear, tolerate, and accept the views of others, even when we do not personally, or fully, agree with them.

I think that this becomes a more important and convincing message to the OBC than any formal statement that we could contrive. It signifies that whatever this amorphous group of individuals on the forum is about, we are at least willing and able, to some extent, to acknowledge the disturbing contradictions that we are asking the OBC to actively embrace and resolve for themselves!

For instance, I do not fully agree with some of Josh's conclusions--even though, having been there myself at the same time, I almost always agree with his initial observations. And yet, I fully support Josh in his right to express his oppionions, even if I might sometimes challenge a conclusion or two. As I trust, he will continue to do for me.

For many of us, much of the time, the distinction between observation and conclusion can, all too easily, be reduced back to a statement that equates the perception of observed speech or behavior, with a concluding judgement about the person. This tendency is so deeply ingrained and widespread, that it inspired Marshall Rosenberg to develop a strategy for responding to it that he calls Non-Violent Communication.

I think that there are other, and yet more specific ways for communicating such a "combined message". And they may, possibly, occur to me in the morning! ;-)
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:11 am

Lots of good points and thanks for telling me about mara/ devil Mokuan.

I have only 3 points

The basis of my practice is zazen, It always has been, I believed the basis of the teaching of kennett Roshi was zazen, When Daiji Mark Strathern left, it became clear that the basis was not zazen. The teaching at that time were based on dualistic concepts. Great importance was made of these ridiculous previous lives, Kennett was Bodidharma st john of the Cross, Eko was Jesus etc etc they were all at it. Importance was made of all this, so much impotance that a book was published 'the lotus blossom' stained galss windows were made of it. This was not an experience that quietly occured when sitting it was heralded as the THIRD KENSHO. This in turn typifies Kennet s limited dualistic mind.Why quantify what cant be quantified. Why limit the limitless, So the basis changed.personally I did meet it head on and wrote to challenge,my letter was intercepted. These experiences became the core of practice,the practice highlighted dualistic thinking and behaviour. It was not is not for me I left.
It was very important for me to touch base with a formal practice,and I did the teacher was incredibly highly and eminently regarded in Japan,he sat zazen,

It is a great shame that we could not challenge the change of direction way back, I think the monks that queried it at least,should feel they did well ,that something in their practice made them question the whole thing. They must have been moved by something deep within. Even though I remain disappointed that a challenge was not mounted at the time.

Talk of addressing issues with Shasta, a good thing but does this restart at what point. I have to stright away, I wish it well, but have no interest in becoming a part ,my alleegencs
I know that is spelt wrong sorry my conection to zazen practice is else where.I am here as I feel we are working something out together.I hope that we all find something wholly good deep within us and in turn are moved by that
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:01 pm

Kozan wrote:


For instance, I do not fully agree with some of Josh's conclusions--even though, having been there myself at the same time, I almost always agree with his initial observations. And yet, I fully support Josh in his right to express his opinions, even if I might sometimes challenge a conclusion or two. As I trust, he will continue to do for me.

For many of us, much of the time, the distinction between observation and conclusion can, all too easily, be reduced back to a statement that equates the perception of observed speech or behavior, with a concluding judgement about the person. This tendency is so deeply ingrained and widespread, that it inspired Marshall Rosenberg to develop a strategy for responding to it that he calls Non-Violent Communication.
Kozan, I like you're distinction between observation and conclusion. We are like siblings who had an abusive parent, looking back at our childhoods and realizing that we can’t agree on what the parent was like, or even about events we mutually experienced. That is because each one of us was an integral part of the experience - what we brought to it was part of what defined the experience. An honest examination must include our own needs and choices, but it is a lot harder to be objective about ourselves and see the contributions we made to our relationship with RMJK.

I believe the biggest value in examining our “childhoods” comes from overturning the taboo that we must not question the “parent” and explore the past. Once we have gotten over that obstacle we can benefit from a period of replaying our memories and giving ourselves reality checks through therapy, etc, but at some point it stops being helpful. I would not presume to say how long the process should take for others, and it has nothing to do with how long ago the events took place, etc, but you know when you’ve reached that point because it starts to feel like a waste of time, or worse becomes self-wounding.

No amount of analysis using psychological models will produce certainty about RMJK’s personality or motivations. Obviously she is not here, and what we are really doing is reinterpreting our personal histories. We have to consider the potential cost to ourselves when recasting RMJK as simply a crazy person. What does it say about the years we spent practicing Buddhism in the OBC? Are we willing to destroy everything that was worthwhile about it in order to validate a new interpretation of RMJK as psychotic? I am grateful that my heart does not require me to embrace such a desolate landscape.

I’ve had twenty five years to reflect on my time as her disciple. I see more clearly now what was good and true that both of us brought to our relationship and I also see how our needs and flaws produced a unique set of problems – it is not just her flaws that I see. Eventually I needed to leave, however what I learned from her that was real and enduring sustained me, and eventually made it possible to view her and my past through a lens of forgiveness instead of pathology.
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:02 pm

Isan
I think that is correct way to view things,clearly for you it is.
I do not know much about you, but you were there for a long time,had a reason to leave, and crashed and burnt out for a while.
To say you view things through a lens of forgiveness, says a lot for you
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:43 pm

Forgiveness -- what a interesting and confusing word and idea. Over the years I've had a fair amount of trouble understanding what it. is and isn't.

I suppose in Buddhism, forgiveness is best seen in terms of not clinging to anything, including past hurt and harm. But does not clinging mean not remembering? I don't think so. Does it mean no punishment or sanction? I don't think so. Sanctions and punishment can teach and set boundaries as well or alternatively be revenge. Most of what I've seen, including our own justice system is both.

A Quaker lawyer acquaintance and I once discussed what should be the purpose of our justice system. He pointed out that it has a legitimate social role of punishment, not just rehabilitation. For all of its serious flaws, much better justice is achieved with it than vigilante justice which would replace it as an instrument of revenge if it didn't have that function.
.
The reality is that most of us during life suffer many things which are hurtful. We are hurt sometimes because we placed ourselves in harms way, sometimes because our egos were hurt without actual injustice, sometimes because of self-inflicted wounds, sometimes because someone deliberately injured us, etc. The vast majority of these either heal with time or wisdom or are discarded as being in retrospect, unimportant or unresolvable.

Lin Yutang (from memory, not verbatim) wrote of an old Chinese man who over the years had loaned money to some of his poor neighbors who had given him notes to document the indebtedness. As time went on, it became clear that most of those loans could never be repaid. Misfortune for people is sometimes relentless. One day the old man looked over the old notes, collected them into a pile, made a fire and burned them to ashes. and then relaxed to enjoy some tea and smoke a pipe. The story ends with the question, "Is this not happiness?"

.I think Lin Yutang's version of forgiveness is closest to what I've found to be a good definition. It is laying down the burden of past grievances and refusing to pick it up again when there is no possibility of beneficial redress. It doesn't mean forgetting, pretending it didn't happen, enabling recurrent malfeasance of perpetrator, etc. It just means getting on with life without clinging to that burden. It means not insisting that every future relationship be dependent on resolution of the old issue.

In a very real way, most who have written here seem to have forgiven both Jiyu and the OBC in that very functional way Honestly expressing the hurt one felt (or even feels again by remembering it) is not unforgiveness. Pretending. that what happened was OK or rationalizing harm by "looking at the good side" is not forgiveness. Having feelings of affection for the person inflicting the harm is not forgiveness; those feelings of affection may never grow again in the scorched earth.

Understanding what really happened, without continuing rancor, is probably close to forgiveness.

Viktor Frankl and Jacques Lusseyran seem good examples of what forgiveness is.

I think the record of postings here demonstrates that the OBC is a very flawed form of Buddhism with some real, continuing potential for harm. As I've stated earlier, I wish I could have read something like this before becoming involved with the OBC. As it was, grace, luck. life experience or the Cosmic Buddha kept me from being harmed or even hurt, but I would not have played in this Buddhist minefield if I had known a less prejudiced history. Even this anecdotal history provides valuable perspective and record, and hopefully will keep a few others from becoming entrapped in the future.

This may be too far off topic to stay here. If so, I ask the moderators to dustbin it.
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:42 pm

Jack wrote: Forgiveness -- what a interesting and confusing word and idea. Over the years I've had a fair amount of trouble understanding what it is and isn't.

I suppose in Buddhism, forgiveness is best seen in terms of not clinging to anything, including past hurt and harm. But does not clinging mean not remembering? I don't think so. Does it mean no punishment or sanction? I don't think so.


Jack,

You're quite right, forgiveness is confusing with all its conceptualizations.
I heard a definition many years ago that sustains me to this day. Too bad I can't recite it in the way it was originally written, because the author -- whoever it was -- said it so eloquently, but it's similar to your understanding of forgiveness.

Someone said: Forgiveness means to untie the knot to the cord that binds.

Okay, some of our knots may be like the Gordian knot, nearly impossible to untie, but we make the effort. And if we find we can't untie the cord that binds, maybe at some point we can make like Alexander the Great and take out our sword and cut the blasted thing.

Muller Fahrenholz, a German theologian in reference to the Holocaust said: "While the perpetrators must be set free from their guilt, the victims must be liberated from their hurt. "

Could this be what we're trying to embark on here?

Kozan, Isan, Jack and Chisan Michael, thank you for your above posts. I'm learning so much.
mokuan
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:03 pm

I have to comment on this:

Isan said:"No amount of analysis using psychological models will produce certainty about RMJK’s personality or motivations. Obviously she is not here, and what we are really doing is reinterpreting our personal histories."

I absolutely agree with you, Isan. There are a myriad number of eyes to see through here, but they are all just perceptions.

Isan said: "We have to consider the potential cost to ourselves when recasting RMJK as simply a crazy person. What does it say about the years we spent practicing Buddhism in the OBC? Are we willing to destroy everything that was worthwhile about it in order to validate a new interpretation of RMJK as psychotic? I am grateful that my heart does not require me to embrace such a desolate landscape."

The key words are "the potential costs to ourselves." Wow. This is really big. I don't even know where to start....

One of the main problems that I see, with the OBC way, is that promotes greed, hate, and delusion because it is set up as a spiritual caste system and sets up "spirtual materialism." I have looked to the very depths of my ego and I can say that I was not too happy to find that I had some spiritual materialism waiting there to be dealt with. This is some really difficult stuff to look at. But I think we all must ask ourselves, "what do we WANT from this?" From this "connection" to the OBC? Even if we have left, there are still some who really identify with it still. Funny, I think even Seikai asked us all at one point what we wanted.

So here are some sad stories from the back of my ego closet:
When I went searching for a new teacher in Buddhism, I used my "years of meditation experience" and my rank (oh, and yes, I did train with a Zen Master for 5 years, puff puff)on my "spiritual resume." I used my connections. The more connections I made, the more I used them and pretty soon, I had a Spiritual Resume. I did sit next to the Archbishop of Japan once....I did train with Noah Levine....I did become certified to teach meditation....blah, blah, blah. Someone told me, "you are awesome, you should be a Dharma Teacher." That's when I realised I was in trouble. I dropped the whole thing. What was I doing? Why was I doing it?

What is the cost? What does it say about our training? It depends on what you seek and what you continue to think that it is gonna get you.

I was not free until I let go of that stuff. I keep a watchful eye on myself to keep all this stuff in check. I don't want anything. Period. I am however, here on the forum still working through my stuff. But this is for ME, not for anyone else. This will not go on my spiritual resume.

I don't mean anyone in particular here, but I found it interesting that some former members used their old monk names and some didn't. This is not a judgement, I'm just saying that there is still a piece of indentification there. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. It is a connection to something that we found there; that thing that remains to be the ulitmate, pure thing, that no one can take away from us. I miss the Abbey terribly some times. I miss the feeling of community. I miss the heart connection that I felt with some of the sangha, I miss working in the kitchen, I miss petting the cats...the list goes on and on. But what I described is "what I have to say about spending years practicing Buddhism in the OBC." And isn't that what practicing Zen is supposed to be?....washing the dishes, petting the cats, comforting a friend...What else do we NEED?

I do not live in a desolate landscape and I am not trying to pigeon-hole Jiyu into a diagnosis. For me, it is just a way of learning and understanding. Most of the people here trained with Jiyu. I trained with Eko. It's a different deal- different generation. It was really interesting to hear some people say that Eko was a scapegoat because for me, he wasn't. But now that I am learning more about Jiyu, honestly, I can see how that theory applies. But the thing is, Jiyu's "stuff" isn't really obvious anymore. Somebody, Iain I think, asked how is this all relavant NOW? Well, I think it is totally relevant, but the Jiyu stuff is the missing link. I can't tell you all how much I appreciate your stories, recollections, experiences. They are just parts to a puzzle for me. I don't know if I'll ever understand it all, but it is an incredibly interesting and moving process for me. I mean, wouldn't all of the Jiyu disciples be interested in learning about Keido Chisan? Someone said in a thread, Henry I think or Josh, that looking back at Jiyu is the SAME as looking back through the ancestral line. Well, Eko is in "my" ancestral line, so what does THAT say? What about all of Eko's disciples? He gave me the precepts and in a very cosmic way, I am bound to that? What does THAT mean? Lol!

I'm feeling mushy and sad right now and I am grateful that you all are here.

Peace,
Diana
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:48 am

Thank you for these thoughts Diana. When you acknowledge what you have just acknowledged--I become mushy--and re-inspired!

You wrote:
"I don't mean anyone in particular here, but I found it interesting that some former members used their old monk names and some didn't. This is not a judgement, I'm just saying that there is still a piece of indentification there. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. It is a connection to something that we found there; that thing that remains to be the ulitmate, pure thing, that no one can take away from us." (Emphasis here in red is my own.)

RMJK, Eko, and others of us as well--made a few little mistakes--with sometimes, and indeed all too often, horrendous consequences. I think, however, that you have just identified the crux of the matter. The paradox is that other people, in spite of their failures, can spark a connection, for us, to that ultimate pure thing--in spite of what they did or didn't do. The connection to this pure thing is not what they did--it is what we did! And yet, it seems to me, that if we overly denigrate a catalytic relationship with a teacher, however flawed they may have been, we cut ourselves off from that which we all share.

So again, thank you!
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:25 am

Thanks for your reply Josh, and sorry to have taken some time to come back. A lot of work to help out with before the return of our juku students as from tomorrow.

Jcbaran wrote:
Iain --

I am mostly addressing my experiences with Kennett from 1969-77 ..... And from my experience with many religious organizations that become cultic -- which this group did -- certainly under Kennett -- the shadow of the teacher / guru / roshi is played out in the culture of the organization. What is happening at the OBC now I have no idea and I am not commenting on that.

I feel it is important to acknowledge and think through the implications of that, and especially for those members of this forum who are seeking a dialogue. There are junior monks around now who were not even born in 1977. As someone who makes a serious academic study of mechanisms and processes of social change I think I could identify at least half a dozen significant stages of institutional growth since then in the OBC in the UK

I have no direct experience or understanding of what happened in those early years in North America, nor of Rev. Master Jiyu personally. I have known most of her direct European disciples for many years, but I have only visited Shasta a few times during the 1990's. You have your own direct experience of events as a direct disciple and and your own interpretation of them. From 1969 to 1977.

Quote :
The fact that a few Japanese monks visited Shasta, were no doubt given the royal treatment, and came back and said some nice things, well, big surprise. This proves what exactly?

I only pointed to this to challenge your unqualified assertion that Rev. Master Jiyu had 'a minimal grounding in Buddhism and Soto Zen' and that 'later she assumed the role of Zen "master"'. Like it or not I don't think her grounding could ever fairly be described as 'minimal' nor I guess did she 'assume' the role of a Zen Master, that was a recognition on the part of her own teacher. She was clearly in good standing with many in the tradition towards the end of her life.

Quote :
Just because someone is certified as a teacher or master or bishop or pope does not somehow mean that they are perfect or enlightened or divine or beyond criticism. Reality tells me otherwise. Behavior tells me otherwise. Simple common sense tells me otherwise.

Couldn't agree with you more. My old boss made even more spectacular errors of judgement after he went on a Harvard Business School course than he ever did before he went. He did actually GO to Harvard though and he learned a lot.

Quote :
I respect Kennett's going to Japan. I respect her early training and dedication. I am grateful for those early years when her teaching was straight forward and simple. But what happened later was abusive and at times delusional and harmful. and i don't care what pieces of paper or silk she had, or what title she was given, her behavior completely eclipsed all that. And speaking out to me is Dharma, is truth telling.

This may be so but first part doesn't come through to me at all as a reader of what you have written before. That is why I so directly challenged what you wrote. The second part I readily accept as your sincerely held opinion based on your own experiences of events around, I guess, 1975-1977. However I'd ask you to bear in mind that she had a further 20 years as a teacher after this.

I'm not sure that I know what an 'objective' history ever actually looks like but as a 'long in the tooth' congregation member with an interest in the mechanics of institutional history I can spot myth-making as well as the next man. This period you are writing about has to be not only the most disturbing but also eventually one of the most formative in the early development of the OBC and it is hard to get any clear evidence about the relevance of those years now even from friends who were around and experienced them. For people here to fill in this history with whatever objectivity they can muster makes for darn interesting reading. But it has to be objective.

Quote :
and in terms of my opinion about Kennett's understanding of Buddhism, that's my take on what I saw. What she taught in the last two years I was there was very confused and way off track. And still, decades later, and after continuing my Dharma studies and training, I haven't changed my take on this.

I have no problem with this at all. My problem with your first couple of entries on this thread was that I felt you extrapolated from this experience to make some globalised negative comments about her whole lifetime contribution which I felt were simply untrue. Whatever else has happened (and I see this is already picked up in some other later contributions on the thread) I do think that love her or hate her she did actually and with the support of many others transmit an authentic form of Soto practice across cultures.

I promised Henry and Carol I would respond to some other stuff on this thread but I'm afraid that it will have to wait a day or two until I get some space to do that.

With Bows

Iain
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:28 am

Interesting points Ian I am sure Josh will reply.
But the bit about transmit an authentic form of Soto Zen.
I would disagree the next in line was removed from office, it does not say very much to me.
And which temple allows previous lives such as Jesus and Bodhidarma to creep into the zendo, and which zendo has stained glass windows in of the Abbots Kensho. None that I have been to.How many temples allow bullying? this is nothing to do with culture,
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Iain

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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:00 am

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:
Interesting points Ian I am sure Josh will reply.
But the bit about transmit an authentic form of Soto Zen.
I would disagree the next in line was removed from office, it does not say very much to me.
And which temple allows previous lives such as Jesus and Bodhidarma to creep into the zendo, and which zendo has stained glass windows in of the Abbots Kensho. None that I have been to.How many temples allow bullying? this is nothing to do with culture,

Well if you take a look at Bodiford W.M., "Soto Zen in Medieval Japan" (University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1993) you will see that there is not much new under the sun. In the first four or five generations after Dogen disciples are frequently 'airbrushed' from the record and the assimilation of ceremonial practices from the rural yamabushi was central to early Sotoshu development and its contemporary popularity in rural Japan.

Keizan Zenji was of course well known at one early stage in his career - before the penny dropped - for beating juniors so severely for fidgeting during zazen that he broke the kyosaku and they ended up so badly bruised that they were unable to walk.

I'm obviously neither condoning any of this nor for a moment drawing any kind of formal comparison between fourteenth century Sojiji Monzen and 1970's Shasta. But the unvarnished truth has to be that incidents like those you describe have happened throughout the whole history of Zen institutions.

Iain
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:59 am

Iain you make the common academic/scientific mistake when you say 'with whatever objectivity they can muster '. Peoples recollections are always subjective as the primary data always is, the important matter is whether it is a true recollection. It is for historians to sift through and weigh the evidence and come up with a slightly more objective view. If you want an academic study of the history of the OBC in England, and to a certain extent in the US and Jiyu's early history, then you should read 'Tibetan and Zen Buddhism in Britain : Transplantation, development and adaptation', by David N. Kay, which was published in 2004 and is basically his PhD Thesis. It tries as far as possible to be rigorous and authentic but he is forced to say that much, especially of the Jiyu's history in Japan, has to be gleaned from works some of which even she herself described as basically works of fiction.

As you say she did bring an authentic form of Soto to the US and the UK but my position, and I think Josh's and others, is that her illnesses of the Lotus Blossom period led not to an adaptation of Soto to the western forms but to a distortion and corruption of Soto that led many away from the truth and not towards it. This latter point is to my mind crucial. I remember thinking at the time, and still do, that if Jiyu had changed what she was teaching into say essentially Pure Land buddhism that would have been fine. I probably still would have left because my interest was in Zen training not in Pure Land but I would not have had any argument with the teaching per se. However what the central teaching at that time became was a form of occultism that led followers into delusion. I believe that things were softened later but the delusions and deluded practices were still praised as the truth. Even now, though it seems that the worst of the delusions are being quietly dropped, the organisation and practices that kept them in place for so long have not been changed. There is some hope that something may come out of the interim board but looking at its constitution and remit I somehow doubt it. If the external consultant that they say is going to be appointed is authoritative and truly independent, and has an open remit, and is allowed to see anything and talk to anyone about anything, and is given a prominent position on the interim board, and is central to the reports it produces then the chance to rescue the undoubted good that there was in some of Jiyu's teaching from the dross that almost obscures it will have been lost.
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:22 am

Iain
which temple has the Abbot or Abbess had an experience of being Bodhidharma
and called it the third kenso
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:34 am

When catholic saints and popes perpetrrate horrendous deeds it is easy for us of a Buddhist persuassion to simply say these people are not what the Catholic churchs asserts them to be. Seems more difficult to do the same for our own. I think that's generally referred to as hypocrisy, if I'm not mistaken.
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:47 am

It's funny to say that that since this enlightened person 500 years ago broke others' bones and he was enlightened, so a present dY person can do the same a be enlightened also. Why don't we doubt the veracity of the former's enlightenment or the tale that he was abusive? In what field outside of religion are people so prone to such ways of thinking? Or more accurately, not thinking.
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:38 pm

Henry what is you take on Compassion in religion?
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:21 pm

mstrathern wrote:
Iain you make the common academic/scientific mistake when you say 'with whatever objectivity they can muster '.

To clarify what I meant here Mark because I do think that it is important in the context of dialogue.

My personal experience is that once you start to seriously explore and employ any epistemological structures to deepen intellectual understanding 'objectivity' becomes an ever more elusive concept. I'd hoped that I had hinted at this when I wrote that "I'm not sure that I know what an 'objective' history ever actually looks like" earlier in the paragraph. History can be endlessly re-written by anyone based on exactly the same documented evidence. One of my students in Japan is currently coming up with a whole new theory about the relevance of logistics to the Duke of Marlborough's 1704 Campaign.


I'm simply thinking of something more practical when I write this in the context of evidence on OBC Connect. "I remember RMJK in 1977 as being incapable of delegating the task of purchasing a pillow case [and my opinion was that I didn't think much of her for it]" is what I mean by objective evidence. "RMJK had little knowledge of Buddhism" is not objective evidence (unless she was formally examined in the subject and achieved a low score I guess). It is an unsubstantiated personal opinion.

With Bows

Iain
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:08 pm

Hi Iain,

I'm certainly not one to determine RMJK's understanding. Maybe she wasn't a very good teacher in the sense of being able to get a message across. It's a skill, one that I do not possess myself, and I think it's one you learn.

But I do know when I asked her my question regarding the ability to recognize delusion in myself, she punted me to Daizui, who said I'll get back to you. He never did.

Another thing regarding teaching, she asked me if I would like to talk about a fairly injurious event that had happened to me a couple years prior. I said, Yes, thank you. I'd would like to get your take on it. She never mentioned it again, and I was in her house every day, all day. For me, it would have been perfectly fine if she just said, I don't know; stuff happens. I don't feel hurt by either of those situations, but you would kinda, sorta think a teacher might have some idea regarding either question.

I've had some wonderful answers to my delusion question on this forum, and Joseph Goldstein (IMS) didn't hesitate to answer either of them -- and quite well, I might add.

Iain, you seem certain of the things you know. I have to ask for yours and everyone else's forbearance here. At the moment, I'm feeling like I'm standing atop a rickety fence trying to get somewhere without falling. The "somewhere" is understanding. The falling is anger on one side and I'm not sure exactly what's on the other side, but there's some sympathy mixed in I know that for sure. So if at times I seem a little wishy-washy, I apologize. It's because I'm up and down on top of that fence!

warm regards,
mokuan
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PostSubject: Re: The Cosmic Buddha said what?????   Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:59 pm

Iain I take your point but I both agree and disagree (ah! my cake and eating it again) If in the final analysis all data is subjective then there can be no knowable objective truth. But since Zen is supposed to be:

A special transmission outside the scriptures,
Not founded upon words and letters;
By pointing directly to [one's] mind
It lets one see into [one's own true] nature and [thus] attain Buddhahood

"RMJK had little knowledge of Buddhism" seems a bit irrelevant. However it is still evidence even if it is personal opinion. It is the opinion of someone who was in close contact with her for a number of years and therefore has at least some exertise. It may not carry the weight of the more objective view obtained by an examination but it still carries some weight as evidence and would be allowable as such in a court of law. I have read, for instance, Sangharashita's 'A Survey of Buddhism' but this does not make me an expert however it does allow me to come to the opinion that he is even without a formal examination.
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