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 Introducing Myself

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Kyogen

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Posts : 141
Join date : 2010-07-23
Location : Portland, OR

PostSubject: Introducing Myself   Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:05 am

Hello OBC Connect members and friends,

My name is Kyogen Carlson, and I am one of the dinosaurs from the early Abbey years. Kozan and I were at the Abbey together in the early 70s. I was ordained in 1972, and I lived there until 1982 when I married Gyokuko and we moved to Portland to take on the Priory there. In those days monks could marry. The saga around that is a very long story that I won’t go into now. I will say that I was Roshi Kennett’s Jisha for about nine of the years I was there, so I had an inside view of things. I never did get used to the Rev. Master nomenclature, so I tend to stick to the standard terminology in the Soto Zen world. Gyokuko and I are still very active as priests and we remain at the Portland temple, although we have been independent of the OBC since 1986.

That brings me to Abbey history. It seems to me there were several “crisis years” that had a habit of coming in ten year intervals: 1976, 1986, and then 1996 when Jiyu Kennett died. Many of the monks I knew left in the Lotus Blossom year of 1976, or just after that. Another wave left in the big shake out of ’86 or right after. I think the pattern was indicative of a problem at the core of the organization, which was Jiyu Kennett herself.

I should add that I will probably follow the threads here more than contribute. I am finishing up my term as president of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association and as secretary of the American Zen Teachers Association, and I have a lot on my plate right now. I would like, however, to invite the members of this forum to have a look at the Dharma Rain Zen Center website at www.dharma-rain.org to see an example of a different way to make use of the teaching received at Shasta Abbey. We changed the name and legal structure of the temple when we became independent.

I have introduced our community of priest and lay disciples to this forum, 60 people at present, and I know that a number of them are giving it a look-see. It would be nice if the widely distributed alumni of this lineage could be in contact with each other. I have regular, if some infrequent, contact with Chishun Burkhardt, Komei Larson, Sansho Runyan and Josh (Jitsudo) Baran. I have also practiced with Gensho and Hyakurei Florence with the Japanese Rinzai master Shodo Harada Roshi. It is true, however, that most people who leave the Abbey seem reluctant to stay in touch with others, which is somewhat telling in itself. I heard about this forum from both Kozan and Chishun, and I will tell the other old-timers I am in touch with about it. I applaud your efforts, Lise, in setting up this forum, and I hope it succeeds in bringing some light into the dark places in our shared history, and that it helps create some cohesion where there has been mostly rupture.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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Lise
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Posts : 1412
Join date : 2009-11-08
Age : 43

PostSubject: Nice to have you here   Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:51 am

Hello Kyogen,

Thank you for joining us -- your presence is a very welcome addition. I hope the forum will be useful to you and everyone who comes here. Thanks also for passing along the site information to your congregation and other contacts -- it would be great to have them here as well.

Best regards,
Lise




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Kyogen

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Posts : 141
Join date : 2010-07-23
Location : Portland, OR

PostSubject: Reflections on the past   Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:28 pm

Thank you for your welcome, Lise. It occurred to me that I could offer some reflections on the early years by posting links to remembrances of Roshi Kennett, published in our newsletter, by many people who knew her.

http://www.dharma-rain.org/StillPoint/archives/SPjan_feb97.shtml

http://www.dharma-rain.org/StillPoint/archives/SPmar_apr97.shtml

http://www.dharma-rain.org/StillPoint/archives/SPmay_jun97.shtml

http://www.dharma-rain.org/StillPoint/archives/SPnov_dec98.shtml

http://www.dharma-rain.org/StillPoint/archives/SPsep_oct99.shtml#blood

Also, in case anyone is interested, there is an inactive section on our website that deals with history. It is still there, but without current links. It's in a very old format, but may of interest. You can get there through this link:

http://www.dharma-rain.org/history.phtml

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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Kyogen

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Posts : 141
Join date : 2010-07-23
Location : Portland, OR

PostSubject: Missed the key link   Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:46 pm

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Diana



Posts : 206
Join date : 2010-06-11
Location : New Mexico

PostSubject: Re: Introducing Myself   Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:16 pm

Thanks for sharing all of the links! I musy say, I think I probably read all of them, about 7 years or so ago, when I was in a desperate search for information on Jiyu and the OBC. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to talk to you or your wife. I think I actually set up a meeting once, but backed out of it for fear of the consequences.

Anyway, I'm curious about the organizations you serve under and am wondering if there are any ethics committees or anything at all that keeps people, specifically teachers, from harming others in training. I am so completely disturbed by the fact that so few "teachers" understand how dangerous "training" can be and don't know what to do in cases where things become serious. I have spoken with many Buddhist teachers (even the "famous" ones) and am suprised that none of them, except one (Jack Kornfield), knows what to do in a spiritual emergency. After having experienced one first hand, I can tell you that I needed help at that time and that it was not given to me; that lack of accountability is not acceptable. My "spiritual emergencies" are the impetus for me getting my doctorate in psychology.

I admit I am very apprehensive to listen to any current Zen monks and I can't trust you or your temple/organization because of what I have experienced in the past. But I do hope to try and hear what you have to say and I thank you for joining the forum here. I have to speak the truth for me and hope you don't take offense to what I said. I'm sure you're a great guy! I hope that your temple is filled with happy, joyful, and enlightened trainees!

Thanks again for joining, seriously.

Peace,
Diana
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Kyogen

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PostSubject: Re: Introducing Myself   Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:44 am

Hi Diana,

I wouldn’t expect you to trust me. I would hope you would be open to hearing what I have to say, and it sounds like you are. Trust should always be earned, and never demanded. At some point the OBC got that backwards.

Tennyson said, “There is more faith in an honest doubt, Believe me, than in half the creeds.” When I heard that, it struck me like a thunderclap.

There is an old Zen saying that to awaken takes three things, great faith, great doubt, and great determination. Somehow the necessity of doubt, deep questioning, and not just wanting to know what is true but daring to find out got stripped out of the culture there.

Here’s yet another link to an article about faith, doubt, and belief. Forgive me for pointing to old writings so much.

http://www.dharma-rain.org/StillPoint/zhd.shtml

Thank you for welcoming me here.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Introducing Myself   Thu Jul 29, 2010 12:40 am

Thank you, Kyogen, for joining this forum and telling your story. People at the Abby who knew you and your wife would never mention you or why you left. Once in a while I would hear rumors, but no one would tell me where you were or what you were doing. So I appreciate your candor in revealing what always seemed like a dark secret and letting us see what a warm, enthusiastic teacher you really are!
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Kyogen

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Posts : 141
Join date : 2010-07-23
Location : Portland, OR

PostSubject: Re: Introducing Myself   Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:38 am

Thank you for your kind words. I look forward to deepening the connection to all my unknown Dharma relations.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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amalia



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Join date : 2010-07-26

PostSubject: Re: Introducing Myself   Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:47 am

Everyone keeps mentioning the year 1986 but I don't know anything about it. Koshin mentioned it a lot as the time when he almost left and then finally didn't. (how glad he was that he didn't, how he learned instead to have complete faith in his master, etc.)
But what actually happened at the Abbey I never found out.
It would be nice if you could shed some light on this.
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Kyogen

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PostSubject: Re: Introducing Myself   Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:48 pm

Hello Amalia,

1986, yes. Now there was a year! I mentioned elsewhere in this forum the odd ten year cycle at the Abbey, which I think was peculiar to Jiyu Kennett herself.

19976 was the Lotus Blossom year, and the emphasis on past lives and karmic cleansing was established. That period had its own excesses and problems, but also some very positive things came out of that as well. The turmoil of those days receded quite a bit, but the emphasis on karma and past lives remained as a subtext there over the next ten years.

1986 was the year absolute faith in the master and complete celibacy became the big issues. A number of us left at that time. A few years after that I wrote out a chronology of events, from our point of view, of course, to help make sense of everything. I looked it over some time back and realized I had left out parts I referred to and planned to go into but forgot. And, with time, my perspective has changed and I would put things somewhat differently. I plan to go back to that narrative before too long to make it readable and useful to others who may have an interest, but I have too much on my plate at the moment.

It’s fascinating to me that Roshi died in 1996, and now it appears there is another wave of defections, a few years after 2006. Did anything happen around that time?

I can say this, however. I believe the key factor in the events in 1986 was Roshi Kennett's failing memory and a resulting need to grasp more control as she felt herself slipping. There was a conflict within the Abbey community over this, with some monks confronting problems and others supporting the Abbot right or wrong. I imagine you can guess which side won. One of the odd things to me is that Koshin Schomberg was one of the people standing up to very obvious abuses. He left over just such an issue. His snapping into total faith and obedience remains, to me, one of the most shocking examples of how dramatically someone can change through the pressures of this sort of "practice."

While there is a lot more to the story of that period, I hope this little bit sheds some light on it.

With palms joined,

Kyogen
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Jiko



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Join date : 2010-07-27

PostSubject: Koshin's change   Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:56 am

I've described my experience with the separation in 1986 in my own introductory thread. When I was confronted by the OBC (in the person of Eko) with the need to choose between studying with Kyogen or staying in the lay ministry program and studying at the Abbey, I went to Koshin for advice.

To summarize my dilemma: I loved the Abbey very much and had received the Precepts from Roshi Kennett. I thought of it as my "spiritual home." Though it was distant from Portland, where I lived, I had grown up in the area and found the Abbey to be a miracle of the new and the old. But I was practicing regularly with Kyogen and Gyokuko in Portland. I was active in the little sangha there and considered it my home temple. What a choice! And the choice was especially hard because I felt a growing intimacy with Kyogen as my teacher while I felt nourished by the monastic community.

I went to Koshin, who was in rural Washington at that time (but not at NC yet, I think), because I had always found him simpatico and rational. He said all the right things - that he couldn't tell me what to do, it was my decision, that I had to follow my heart.

My heart told me that Kyogen would be my teacher and that he was not the source of the conflict. He and Gyokuko were, in fact, standing as still as possible in the most neutral place they could find while a tornado struck. I admired this.

To read what has happened with Koshin is very sad. I know that my own internal process has taken me down roads I would not have imagined. It is impossible to really know another's journey, how they chose the paths they walked. But still, it does not sound good on any level.
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Ilo Sunim



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PostSubject: Re: Introducing Myself   Fri Nov 26, 2010 8:19 pm

Greetings and well wishes dear Kyogen!

Ilo
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Diana



Posts : 206
Join date : 2010-06-11
Location : New Mexico

PostSubject: Re: Introducing Myself   Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:43 am

Hope you and your wife are well, Kyogen.
I was just thinking that even though I'm such a critic now, I do hope you and your sangha are doing well. We haven't heard from you guys in a while. I was just wondering how you felt about all the awesome posts and new members on the forum! I am wondering how you feel about all of the "old" monks here and what they have posted. What do you think? There is so much history and experience and knowledge here! It is basically turning into a full-blown history of Jiyu's "legacy" and the OBC. Pretty cool, huh?
Anyway, I hope you stop by again someday and say hi!
Happy Holidays to you and yours!
~Diana
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Kyogen

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Posts : 141
Join date : 2010-07-23
Location : Portland, OR

PostSubject: Re: Introducing Myself   Fri Feb 04, 2011 11:40 pm

Hello Diana and Ilo. Yes, I've been away from the forum, up to eyeballs in other concerns. Thank you for you greetings and good wishes. Dharma Rain is busting at the seams with growth and development, so thank you for your good wishes in that regard.

It is wonderful that the list of members here now goes back to the earliest days in California. There are a few more who were ordained in Japan, like Mokurai and Myozen, Jeanette Delporte. It would be interesting to hear from them.

Kyogen
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