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 Firing your teacher -- Yes you can

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Firing your teacher -- Yes you can   Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:06 pm

I wanted to start a new topic on your inherent right to fire your teacher. Certainly many of the people posting on this site have in one way or another fired Kennett or Eko or whoever their OBC master was. Others here may have drifted away and not officially disconnected. But I wanted to address this issue since it can create various levels of guilt in the disciple who walks away.

Some months after I left Shasta, I wrote Kennett a letter which said, "You are no longer my teacher. I am no longer your student. This relationship is over." I wanted to make it totally clear that she was no longer in charge of my life -- in any way -- and I was no long interested in her guidance. It was a statement of autonomy independence. To me, a teacher-student relationship is a mutual dance and either side can terminate the relationship for any number of reasons.

I did not need her permission to quit, to disconnect. This is not medieval Japan and I had never taken any vows, made any promises that I would never leave or that she was my teacher for all eternity. And even if I had made such a promise, I believe that we all have the right and the ability to "change our minds." Pure and simple. Yes, that was true then, but you know, I CHANGED MY MIND.

I want to also emphasize that just because a person receives "transmission" from a teacher does not mean that that particular teacher is your teacher for eternity or that you can't take another teacher or anything like that. Now that's what Kennett asserted as many of her seniors were fleeing the ship back in the mid 70s -- but that was just her clinging, her psychological need to feel that no one could ever leave her. Of course you can and many of us did.

I recently noticed this in that letter Kennett wrote to her English followers when Mark Strathern left - that strange, rambling desperate letter.

Kennett said in her letter:

"Hofuku (my former proxy), who has not yet finished his studies and is neither a full priest nor a teacher in his own right, has seen fit to spread Daiji’s rumors and to set himself up as the autonomous head and teacher of his own monastery. He has also written to me to renounce his discipleship. I would like to make it clear that however many renunciations of discipleship a person may make, once Transmission in either form has been done such renunciations are impossible whatever the individual may think or do. Up until Transmission a person may take a new master but not afterwards."

So Kennett says you can't renounce your "discipleship" after transmission. Is that true? Who made that rule? What could it possibly mean? And she says that once a person receives transmission, they can't take another master. Really? Also, who make up that rule? She is saying that once you have this transmission ceremony, you can never leave her and you can never have another teacher -- you are stuck with her forever. Really? What a creepy story.

And, excuse me, but isn't that what Dogen did - take another teacher after he had received transmission? Just staying within the Zen tradition for a moment, many Zen teachers had multiple teachers and received various transmissions and "inkas' from different teachers and different lineages, some even collected them like building a resume. Maezumi Roshi had three transmissions - and that didn't seem to positively affect his ethics or his behavior towards his students.

Dogen received transmission from Myozen in the Rinzai lineage before he went to China. Dogen wasn't satisfied, didn't think he had mastered Zen, and then journeyed to China to find some "true" masters - and learned from various teachers and found another master from whom he received transmission.

So, bearing that in mind, Kennett's assertions aren't even accurate within the Zen tradition. You can leave your teacher. You can fire your teacher. You can find another teacher. This "transmission" ceremony does not in any way bind you to a particular teacher. And even if there was some rule like this written somewhere in ancient Japanese, would it make any sense? Does such a rule support your liberation and freedom and spiritual awakening?

If a relationship turns toxic -- any kind of relationship -- we can assert our own integrity / adulthood / intelligence and take our leave. I don't care what the "rules" say; i don't care what the great guru says. What is common sense? What supports an open heart and a compassionate life?

Kennett's feelings may be dressed up in theological mumbo jumbo, but they are actually an expression of her fear of being abandoned, rejected, criticized. And then there are the threats and fear. Leaving is the worst thing you can do, it's killing the Buddha, you'll go to some terrible hell realm, you will be reborn as a dung beetle, you will go crazy. Anyone who teaches fear is not teaching dharma, so why would you stay with such a person?

Fire the teacher -- yes you can.

Also, what is worth discussing in more depth are the myths around the Zen "transmission,' what it is and what it isn't. And Kennett created her own additional dimension of storytelling when she started talking about two different kinds of transmission. More on that later.
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Firing your teacher -- Yes you can   Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:07 am

White Plum Asanga Announcement

The following is announcement from the White Plum Asanga (http://www.whiteplum.org/announcements.html) with a statement on their values and an update on Dennis Genpo Merzel.

June 02, 2011

The White Plum Asanga affirms integrity, honesty, and humility as central to the practice of our Dharma teaching. We affirm non-harming in our relations with all those whom we encounter. We collectively vow to maintain our lineage as a vital branch of the Dharma tree, and to keep it as clear as possible from harmful actions.

We also recognize that, from the very root of our lineage, we have experienced misconduct in the areas of sex and alcohol. And, there have been occasions of abuse of power, sex and money in succeeding generations. We express our sincere apology to all those who have been harmed in any way by these actions. We resolve to act affirmatively to transform our collective karma by censure, healing and restitution.

In light of the above, a delegation of WPA members met with Dennis Genpo Merzel , and together discussed the current circumstances relating to his abuse of his position of teacher and Abbot. We sought to participate with him in a process of discernment to address his issues. He has indicated that he does not want to be accountable to his peers in the White Plum Asanga, and that he will follow his own path in addressing his personal issues and their impact on the Kanzeon Sangha. Since Genpo has resigned his membership in the White Plum organization, we have no authority over him. We appeal to him to address his issues and to take responsibility for healing the harmful effects they have had on his students, successors, and Sangha.

signed by the Board of The White Plum Asanga

Roshi Gerry Shishin Wick, President

Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao, Vice-President

Roshi Anne Seisen Saunders, Secretary-Treasurer

Sensei Joan Hogetsu Hoeberichts

Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara

Sensei Michael Mugaku Zimmerman
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Firing your teacher -- Yes you can   Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:50 am

Two compatible posts Josh, It is funny reading the bit about me Hofuku, it is like reading about someone else, the name has no relevance or significance for me.
It is the Zen curse of the curse of the Zen Master isn't it.
Of course like so other things connected to kennett roshi this was not true. I went to japan, practiced with a teacher not really known in the west, but regarded as perhaps the teacher of the last century by Japanese people,received a new set of robes and new name,and also 'SO WHAT!', I mentioned this to dismiss myths that we are independent on other people to find our hearts or the true way.
These curses can last a long time, and yet they are as empty as the vast sky.
Interesting too is the bit about spreading Daiji's rumors. This of course is the previous lives period of (yet again) Eko being Jesus and Kennett St John of the Cross,I am not brilliant at English language, does rumors imply an untruth Josh? As we know here now and perhaps painfully accept, these previous lives were true, and not just rumors.
So here we have a priest kennett Roshi belittling me in public for telling lives that happened to be true, but the truth was seen to be rather damaging to her personal aims of being regarded as a great teacher.
I think a true teacher will show us that all these foolish thoughts (mine too) are void of any substance, only succeed in separating us from our true nature,and of course are the very things to drop attachment to in zazen.
And the gempo saga keeps going on too, he now places himself out side of any restrictive influence, this is a limited transmission line making it's own rules up. Which touches on the transmissions that you point at Josh. Personally I feel we have witnessed political transmissions, transmissions at key moments, titles given at key moments to keep people on board ,self importance,titles ,positions of power,are really aspects of our selves that again need to be seen clearly as we sit, so we can continue our journey to be free of our own idiosyncrasies as well as others



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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: Firing your teacher -- Yes you can   Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:40 am

Josh, yes of course your right you can fire / leave your teacher at whatever point you want. The only hold a teacher, or anyone else for that matter, is what you give them. You can't 'fire' your parents from being your parents as a physical relationship, that's because it is a physical relationship, but you can fire them as parents as guardians and many children in abusive families have. Just so you can fire a teacher, lover, spouse, etc. Oh that it was that easy with politicians but you have to have the majority of locals agree with you to fire them!

On Kennet and once you've been transmitted you can't renounce your discipleship, this is exactly what she did. She told us that her first transmission was with Suigan Roshi, and then she was transmitted by Koho Zenji. She always claimed to be Koho's disciple and repudiated Suigan, look at her disparagement of him in HTGLB, so bad that she had to change his name presumably to avoid possible libel.
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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: Re: Firing your teacher -- Yes you can   Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:08 am

As I noted elsewhere on this site, the original version of Kennett's book - Zen is Eternal Life - the ones that were photocopied or memographed and used for the first few years by our our little merry band of early monks -- were dedicated, "To my master, Suigan Yogo." Kennett's primary teacher was not Koho Zenji --- she later changed the story / history to downplay and eventually delete Yogo from her Zen biography.

As we know, she spent almost no time with Koho Zenji during her few years at Sojiji. He was the grand imperial abbot and she barely saw him, barely knew him, and hardly ever even shared stories of him with us. We never heard even a few words of his teaching or his approach to Zen, no teaching stories, we barely even knew of his background. I don't think I ever heard about his Zen training or anything. Nada. Her direct teacher was Yogo.

And when she left Japan, she completely cut herself off from Yogo. She may have cut herself off from him even before she left Japan. Talk about rejection or firing your teacher. That is precisely what she did.

I think this goes back to her personality structure. Even though she demanded total submission and adoration from her devotees, she was never going to submit herself like that to another person. She was the absolute boss - and in that scenario, she wasn't going to answer to anyone else - teacher or the Soto head office or anyone. Yes, she did it in Japan for a few years - she assumed the role of disciple for a limited period of time -- she had no choice if she was going to study Zen in Japan - but the moment she could extricate herself from those relationships, she did.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Firing your teacher -- Yes you can   Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:27 am

`Mark was telling me a few weeks ago that a key moment he thought for Kennett roshi was when she broke away from Suigan Yogo that it effected her desire to actually practice, I would go a long with that part which would be when kennett over heard a coversation about her between yogo and his wife.
Mark do please correct me if I am wrong here
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