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 Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections

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Lise
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PostSubject: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Mon May 30, 2011 10:26 pm

[Admin note: this topic was split from Ann Trivelpiece's Intro thread]

Ann, welcome, thanks for joining us, it's great to have you here.

I know a little bit about the Dell, not very much actually, and I have to say I'm very interested in what you said about not being able to "turn over the responsibility of parenting to a group". What does that mean? Did people have a say in how others raised their kids? Was group decision-making the norm? I hope I'm not being too inquisitive but I find this really interesting. I have a somewhat romanticised view of 1970s life in a commune (for want of better description) but I never considered a group approach toward raising children --




Last edited by Lise on Tue May 31, 2011 12:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Tue May 31, 2011 10:03 am

Lise wrote:
Ann, welcome, thanks for joining us, it's great to have you here.

I know a little bit about the Dell, not very much actually, and I have to say I'm very interested in what you said about not being able to "turn over the responsibility of parenting to a group". What does that mean? Did people have a say in how others raised their kids? Was group decision-making the norm? I hope I'm not being too inquisitive but I find this really interesting. I have a somewhat romanticised view of 1970s life in a commune (for want of better description) but I never considered a group approach toward raising children --

I lived at the Dell for a while and helped with the child care. For me it was a good experience, but I didn't have children and was helping look after the children of others. I can see now how some of the parents may have been put off by their lack of control. I believe it was set up so people with children could take turns spending time at Shasta Abbey. Like everything though this was managed "top down" and the parents didn't have much say at times. When I think "commune" my fantasy includes governing through happy consensus and that was not the model at the Dell. I'm sure Ann will weigh in with more detail.
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Ann Trivelpiece



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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Tue May 31, 2011 11:46 am

I was at Kannon Dell for a VERY short time ...spent one night there ruminating on our decision to go or stay. The children were in one area and parents were given their own room. I remember Roshi saying that she didn't want the children to like her, but to respect her. That was a bit troubling for me, as I figured she didn't have any experience with children.

In my heart I felt that I wanted to be available to our son when he needed us, not just when we were assigned to the Dell. I chose to make parenting my practice I guess.

No regrets.

I would like to hear more about how it did work out for others. and if Kannon Dell is still part of the abbey ?

Ann
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PostSubject: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Tue May 31, 2011 12:41 pm

Ann, per your suggestion by PM, I would like to start a thread on Kannon Dell and see what turns up. I'm not sure what that area has become now, the most recent I've heard is that lay people connected to the Abbey still own some of the properties there. I'm not even sure that's correct, though.

As a mum, I would have viewed the children's arrangements as you did -- not choosing to be separated from my child. I barely let mine out of my sight for the first 11 years and allowed very few people to have unsupervised access to him (yes, I was a helicopter parent but that's subsided).

Isan, if you feel like talking more about it -- how were things managed at the Dell? (Names can be omitted or included, of course, as you choose.)

in curiosity,
Lise
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Tue May 31, 2011 1:50 pm

I think the temple ( or Abbot) might have broken old and very old rules in Japan, as a modern kindergarden and enfant school was built in the ancient temple grounds.
And what a delight, what a constant delight of seeing the smiley faces walking two by two,Ohio Gasimaus (sorry cant spell it, means good morning..hello if you did not know) giggle gigle,chatter chatter,smiley smiley,........how wonderful life is. How gorgeous children are, how they have filled my life with joy.

Ann I will somehow unfortunately remember the, dont want the children to like me, only respect me.

You know due to awful circumstances, I had to rear one of mine,on my own from 2months, bottle feeding etc, Being a bit of a male oafe It brought out some positive things in me, possible maternal things too, as I struggled to cope,but we got there . I would hate you to think I did a good job,but we got there...Again How wonderful our lives are.

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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Tue May 31, 2011 2:20 pm

I stumbled onto obcconnect while looking up Kannon dell, and read a post from a child who had grown up there with her brother...perhaps Susan ? Perhaps last name Swann ?

I've been unable to locate that post again....can anyone recall it and where it is ?

Ann
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Tue May 31, 2011 2:43 pm

Ann, I think the post is in Dan Dolmar's intro thread titled "Dan quits hovering", click here

Her post is the 3rd one down, I think.

L.
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Tue May 31, 2011 3:50 pm

Lise wrote:

Isan, if you feel like talking more about it -- how were things managed at the Dell? (Names can be omitted or included, of course, as you choose.)

in curiosity,
Lise

In the early 70's there were both single and married ordained people training at Shasta Abbey. As time went by RMJK came to feel that the monastic environment did not suit married people - the idea of a separate community was envisioned and eventually Kannon Dell came to be. I was one of the original married monks who lived at the Dell and I had hoped that being there would make it possible for my marriage to develop normally. Unfortunately RMJK was not willing to actually allow the married people/families to live normally, and, in another example of her to need to control everything, forced upon the Dell community a monastic schedule which I experienced as largely negating the point of being there. I don't know how any of the marriages survived and eventually many of the married monks returned to Shasta Abbey with the understanding that they would live and train as if single. I believe RMJK was confused from the beginning about whether or not she should allow monks to marry (or ordain lay married couples), and once they were married how they should be allowed to live. It took time for her to figure out that she wanted a monastic community comprised exclusively of single monks. Practically speaking that was certainly more clear and simple and in line with the traditional Buddhist view (apart from Japan), but it was also an aspect of her personal shadow that she could not tolerate married people (appropriately) wanting to put their marriages first and their relationships to her second. As a result she effectively sabotaged the efforts of the married monks to live at the Dell. She ultimately demanded that the married monks, who were living at Shasta Abbey as if "single", actually divorce so there would be no exceptions to her rule. I cannot say to what extent this was done to meet the expectations of the Malaysian Sangha when she sought to ally with them Vs her need to stamp out the remaining nonconformists. Her demand that monks divorce was the issue that finally forced Kyogen and Gyokuko to break away and form The Dharma Rain Zen Center.

In the long run the people who stayed at the Dell were married people with children (they did not have the option to return to Shasta Abbey even if they wanted to). Chosei and Zuiko were one of the central couples who stayed at the Dell - Chosei quite singlehandedly built many of the homes and the school, and Zuiko was the school teacher. There were married laypeople there as well, some with families. I don't know what happened there after I left in 84 and to what use it is put today. The original experiment though was a failure, never allowed enough room to breathe and become.


Last edited by Isan on Tue May 31, 2011 5:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Tue May 31, 2011 4:17 pm

Gosh is all I can say to Isans post.I am thinking of the story of the old monk who lives in a hut and looks at the moon through a hole in the roof. I have heard lots of variations and meanings,if you remember your interpretation Mark,it still makes me smile.What was this training we were doing,what was the commitment we were making,what about the sacrifices,where is the dicipline, and where is the Buddha wish I could have been given the moon
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Tue May 31, 2011 5:48 pm

I think Roshi went out on a limb having married monks at the monastery in the first place. I understand that even in Japan it was only the male monks/priests who were commonly married, never the female ones. Please correct me if I am wrong.
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Tue May 31, 2011 8:01 pm

Isan, my reaction is the same as Michael's, I don't know what to say. How sad.

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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Tue May 31, 2011 10:25 pm

Lise wrote:
Isan, my reaction is the same as Michael's, I don't know what to say. How sad.


Yes, it was sad. I surprised myself as I wrote the post that it came out so raw and sad. It's something that I haven't talked about much and I guess I still carry some disappointment. I wouldn't want people to think that there was nothing good about the Dell though. I just can't be very objective because of my own circumstances. Hopefully others have more positive memories.
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:06 am

There was something good in kannon dell, Shasta, kennett Roshi,and all our efforts.
there was terific sincerity and willingness to walk the Buddhust path. The initial approach to zen was inclusive of everyone men and women, married couples,lay men and women,the moment it is not like that ,Buddhism walks.
No ammount of sitting in a zendo, eating only rice,lack of sleep, great effort and discipline, allows one to avoid the four noble truths ,the sad fact of life , that our friends and loved ones wilt and die before our eyes, people from all nationalities and and educations, can not hide nor can we buy our way out,or create a situation that prevents us from from our own humanity. The remarkable thing about zen is it allows us to chew itself up and spit it out,when we have nothing we are united by everything,then and only then does our natural compassion and love touch, feel, and go out to all beings. Zazen can not be about control it is about seeing the real nature of life
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:15 pm

I spent a week at the Dell with my wife and daughter, (then 2 1/2 years). In retrospect I believe it was a mistake for us to bring a daughter that young and have her stay in separate quarters. She suffered some having to adapt to that experience. The experience convinced me that spiritual communes that don't allow for private family quarters are not a good idea. Later I was sad to see that couples like the Swanns, the Singers, the Cherlins, and the Carlsons were forced into the decision to abandon their marriage and family system, or renounce their ordination, for the sake of living up to the ideal of the Chinese Sangha and Jiyu Kennett's obsession about getting recognition as a Zen master in the Buddhist world through affiliation with the Malayan Chinese Sangha. It was like the whole life of a family and a couple that had grown previously was suddenly expendable for the sake of the psychological deficits of the religious leader. It was a growing attitude that the lay life was not sacred, and entirely existed to support the monastic life, which was the "real" sacred life, all of which was a cover for the psychological issues of the leader of the organization, who had previously blessed such unions and integrated them into the life of the Sangha. I wonder what the children of these unions thought about realizing how expendable their family unit truly was and their parents forced into divorce.
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:29 pm

brilliantly written Bill
And what is the real sacred life ?
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:31 pm

@ Michael "And what is the real sacred life ?"

I think you know the answer to that, Michael. All of life is sacred, the life we have and that has us, what is here and now and where we are, and who we are. It is all within the Communion Paradigm, and not the hierarchical domination paradigm. Zen practice helped me awaken to this holy perception and understanding and to live it. That same Zen practice helped me leave when a sangha becomes so dysfunctional that it loses the holy perception of the sacred within humanity and human relationships and considers them all expendable to the ambitions of human personalities and institutions.
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:28 pm

cmpnwtr wrote:
. . . It was a growing attitude that the lay life was not sacred, and entirely existed to support the monastic life, which was the "real" sacred life, all of which was a cover for the psychological issues of the leader of the organization, who had previously blessed such unions and integrated them into the life of the Sangha.

It's amazing to me, how one of my primary questions about the OBC and Shasta Abbey has been answered by those of you who were there in early days. Until I joined this forum I couldn't piece together why some Shasta monks showed such disdain for lay life, given that the Buddha didn't teach that, but you have all cleared that up for me in this past year (longer?) that we've been visiting together.


Last edited by Lise on Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:34 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : unnecessary opinion of my own. expressed too harshly, my apologies.)
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:44 am

Bill,Life is a little tough at the moment for me. last night before going to bed,I put some scraps of food out for our local badger. I sat down on a garden bench, next to the food to feel the cool evening breeze,when straight away a crafty fox appeared, as quiet, and cunning as an old Zen Master.He very delicately ate some food and carried the rest away, only to return for the remainder a couple of minutes later. What a beautiful moment amongst a little turmoil,Yes I agree this very life is the sacred life,not always easy for me to see it
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:53 am

@ Michael "I agree this very life is the sacred life,not always easy for me to
see it."

Indeed...as Dogen said, " Sometimes I lift the eyebrows of Shakyamuni and sometimes I don't." Sometimes we see life on the surface of the river and sometimes we are sitting in the depths of the river. I remember vividly when I watched my young son suffer and die from acute Leukemia some 30 years ago, and his beautiful body, that I so cherished, waste and wither in pain. Sometimes I saw the sacredness of it all from the depths of the river, and sometimes I only saw the misery of it from the surface of the river.
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:06 pm

Well Bill your story touches my heart, I am so pleased that under those awful circumstances that you managed to see the sacredness of life.
The genjo koan does not bypass life ,for me it is life,the tougher it seems the more appealing running away and retreating is, there is never a need for any manipulated circumstances to to show the eybrows of Shakyamuni.

I think in the depths of uncertanty and trouble it takes great wsidom and love to sit and do what you did which is see the sacredness, I do and I am sure we all bow to you
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:42 pm

Yes Michael, yes,
and , as part of the 'we ' i also bow to you Bill .
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Sun Jun 12, 2011 12:03 am

@ Isan " I cannot say to what extent this was done to
meet the expectations of the Malaysian Sangha when she sought to ally
with them Vs her need to stamp out the remaining nonconformists. Her
demand that monks divorce was the issue that finally forced Kyogen and
Gyokuko to break away and form The Dharma Rain Zen Center."
****************************

I hadn't read Isan's post upstream carefully until today. I read it again and absolutely wanted to respond. In a meeting Jiyu Kennett had with lay ministers from Oregon in 1986, where I was present in the large room of the Main House, she expressed very clearly her decisions and actions with regard to the Carlsons and all the married monks, but especially them, because her actions had caused a fracture in the Oregon Sangha. She stated that she had made the decision to affiliate with the Malaysian Chinese Sangha, and that necessitated her to make the non-negotiable demand that all married monks either divorce or step down from their priesthood status in the OBC. She went on to make a number of denigrating personal remarks about the Carlsons, especially Kyogen, (noting that other couples in that category had been compliant) and their refusal to respond to that ultimatum. She then spoke of the recognition of her status as a Zen Master in Eastern Buddhism as an historic event because of her gender, and punctuated it with the statement "The whole Buddhist world is watching." (direct quote)

The exchange was was utterly shocking to me at the time. This person that I had held in such high esteem shrunk before my eyes into a caricature,a pathetic figure, as the transparency of her motivations and psychological deficits revealed themselves with such clarity. The utter cruelty of it astounded me, that she would regard cherished disciples and their sacred relationships as mere expendable obstacles to be readily cast aside and sacrificed for this tarnished ambition of hers. And with it she expressed a rage at Kyogen especially that he had chosen his marriage to Gyokuko over loyalty to her. It was so utterly fallible and thinly disguised under a veil of religious authority and an obsession for recognition by other religious authorities. This was the real turning point for me in my realization that I needed to leave. There were other important factors but this moment was the catalyst.

I know that since then I have resolved never to trust anyone, especially those in religious authority, who find persons and their intimate relationships as expendable, to be disposed of if they get in the way. I know also this was a pivotal moment in growing into spiritual maturity and becoming a spiritual adult. I realized I could have these insights about Jiyu Kennett and leave a dysfunctional sangha, stand on my own two feet, and still be fully sustained by my practice. When Eko demanded I return my rakhsu,(which I did) and when my good friend Daizui cut off all communication after receiving his order to shun me, I said, yup... I need to move on. I grew up because of it.
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:29 am

I did not know any of this Bill, quite astouding really. 'The Buddhist world was watching' a little bit,not a lot. We have an annoying expression of the youth here which is ' Am I bothered' this springs to mind and sums up a lot of how the ouside world of zen felt about the goings on. I think kennett was pushed more into a corner as more people left,with the tales of what have appeared here and she came out fighting at any bodies expense. Not many religious leaders commented but some did. Fortunately a forum like this on an instant world stage is available now to tell these appalling stories
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Sun Jun 12, 2011 11:37 am

Friends,
What I feel when reading Bill's wonderful post is, Hurrah for human spirit! Bill, and Kyogen and Gyokuko flew over the cuckoo's nest. You can push people so far - but what is in us, what we ARE is so much greater.
O.
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PostSubject: Re: Kannon Dell, then and now -- thoughts and recollections   Sun Jun 12, 2011 12:11 pm

cmpnwtr wrote:
In a meeting Jiyu Kennett had with lay ministers from Oregon in 1986, where I was present in the large room of the Main House, she expressed very clearly her decisions and actions with regard to the Carlsons and all the married monks

Bill, thank you for documenting this meeting. I believe it is first time it has been mentioned here and perhaps you are the only forum member who attended (?) This is important, factual information that answers some nagging questions about these events.
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