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 RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir

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Anne

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PostSubject: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Thu May 24, 2012 5:12 pm

:-) This is a straight request for info, so I hope I'm not 'off-thread'...

In the opening page of her account in How to Grow a Lotus Blossom, Reverend Master Jiyu wrote...
Quote :
[Daizui] experiences the first great kenshō...Instead of my former heir who had deserted me and who, although he was close to understanding, had not yet experienced kenshō, I now have a true heir whom I can certify.
I have assumed from this that Reverend Master Jiyu had only one Dharma heir among her disciples shortly before this event, namely the person of whom she wrote above as having "deserted" her and who "had not yet experienced kenshō". In the foreword to the first edition, Daizui described him as "the disciple whom she had regarded as her chief descendent".

I have inferred from entries on the OBCC forum that Daizui was not the first active member of the (then) Reformed Sōtō Zen Church to experience this kenshō. My question is, does anyone know why Reverend Master Jiyu had not already made Dharma heirs of other disciples in the RSZC who had experienced kenshō? In other words perhaps, what was different about the situation of Daizui or her "former heir" that only they were chosen? Or have I got a wrong end of this stick? (-:
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mstrathern
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:43 pm

Anne, I fear from my experience Jiyu was given to declaring her Dharma heir and then taking it back and handing it on to someone else. I myself was told that I was her heir at one point, and given her bowls in recognition of it. I think that the person Daizui refers to was James Ford, who was her jisha and declared as her Dharma heir and then left. Later, after taking a Rinzai master, studying koans in the Harada tradition he recieved Inka Shomei, he became a Unitarian priest and I believe was instrumental in the setting up of the Unitarian Buddhist group. He is also a member here but has not posted for some time. However others here may have more accurate information and memories than mine.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:28 pm

mstrathern wrote:
Anne, I fear from my experience Jiyu was given to declaring her Dharma heir and then taking it back and handing it on to someone else. I myself was told that I was her heir at one point, and given her bowls in recognition of it. I think that the person Daizui refers to was James Ford, who was her jisha and declared as her Dharma heir and then left. Later, after taking a Rinzai master, studying koans in the Harada tradition he recieved Inka Shomei, he became a Unitarian priest and I believe was instrumental in the setting up of the Unitarian Buddhist group. He is also a member here but has not posted for some time. However others here may have more accurate information and memories than mine.

Mark, I think that you are entirely correct on either all of this, or most of this (and certainly about James' history and your own).

The other contenders for Dharma heir, at this point in time, include Josh (Jitsudo) and Gensho, both of whom served, if I remember correctly, in the rotating post. ;-)

Although I served as Vice Abbot of Shasta Abbey from 1975 to 1978, and RMJK made suggestions to me implying responsibility in the event of her passing, I did not construe this to be dharma heirship, in my case.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:38 am

And I would also have to add that, in my perception, Isan was a clear contender, as was Henry (Kaizan) as well, at other successive points in time.

Ahh, the fickle hand of designation!!
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:49 am

And, Kyogen Carlson was also (I believe) a designated Dharma heir.
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:19 am

:-) "Ahh, the fickle hand of designation"...I like that! Laughing
Thank you all... The proverbial mud is now clear as mud. drunken

( Suspect Ssh...It's probably much like my life looks on the outside (and even inside), too...so I better tiptoe away and say nothing! ;-)
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Isan
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:35 am

Kozan wrote:
And I would also have to add that, in my perception, Isan was a clear contender, as was Henry (Kaizan) as well, at other successive points in time.

Ahh, the fickle hand of designation!!

Yes, I had my fifteen minutes of fame...

Dharma heir du jour :-)

Truth is we're all her Dharma heirs, every last one of us.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:01 pm

I have googled "dharma heir" for background before asking this question, but I didn't see this answered - is this supposed to be a permanent designation or choice? Apart from a monk leaving, breaking the grave precepts, etc., what are the grounds for rescinding dharma heir status, once confirmed?
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:27 pm

as the years went on, these titles like "dharma heir" and "roshi" got quite murky.

In the early years, receiving transmission meant that you have received the dharma. that was it. There was no second transmission. As Kennett gave transmission to more and more people - mostly after less than two years -- a higher category, "dharma heir" entered the picture that did not include everyone who received transmission. At one point, there were 5 or 6 of us who were the anointed dharma heirs and had to wear these long golden-colored tassels that hung behind our kesas. Looked a little goofy. She gave me a purple silk kesa.

After three years, you were given a priest certificate. After completing 5 years, you were officially named a "teacher" and that seemed to imply that at that point, the title roshi could be used. but it wasn't clear. (In Japan, there really is no official title, "roshi" - any priest can be called a roshi, as long as he can get people to call him that.)

At one point, she gave me the roshi title and told Peter to calligraph a special line on my teacher's certificate. Then, around the time I was leaving, she denied she had done given me this title and denied she had told Peter to write it. After I left, I sent Kennett back this certificate. Was not interested in this strange contrived game, titles given and then taken away. And their meaning was completely unclear and contingent on if you were in Kennett's favor that day or not.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:23 pm

Lise wrote:
I have googled "dharma heir" for background before asking this question, but I didn't see this answered - is this supposed to be a permanent designation or choice? Apart from a monk leaving, breaking the grave precepts, etc., what are the grounds for rescinding dharma heir status, once confirmed?

I don't know if historically there are any widely accepted criteria, but with regard to Jiyu Kennett all designations of status and rank were ephemeral. She granted and rescinded such on a regular basis depending on whether or not you were in her good graces in the moment. In other words status and rank (and their associated privileges) were tools for maintaining control. During my stay the only real choice she made was designating Eko as the next abbot. I believe she felt comfortable doing so because he had sufficiently demonstrated over time his utter subservience.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:42 pm

Briefly, a little history...... since the Tokugawa period, the Soto sect - like all the other Japanese Buddhist traditions, had to staff thousands of temple with priests. That was the Imperial deal. The local temples all served as a registry for births and deaths, provided social identity, performed funerals and memorial rituals. The temples were mostly NOT about meditation or dharma instruction, the priests were ritual professionals and these constant daily rituals were seen collectively as providing Japan with divine connection / protection / spiritual power that supported the emperor, the nation, the Japanese spirit. Shinto connected Japan to the gods, the local spirits and Buddhism connected Japan to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Arahants, the lineage, etc. Together, they created the sense of grand spiritual protection and support.

And the funerals were seen as incredibly important since the belief was that through these powerful ceremonies, dead relatives would be transformed from ordinary beings into great ancestors, given special posthumous names (kaimyo), insuring that they were then relocated to a much better celestial place forever -- and thus becoming powerful guardian spirits, gods, protectors of the living - as long as the living kept dedicating merit, honoring these great ancestors, daily, ritually. If you didn't pay your constant respect to these grand spirits, they could become angry and cause suffering, disease, misfortune.

So, these temples all had to be staffed, and when the priests were all forced to marry, this system became hereditary, So, sons were sent to the head temples for a few years, learned the rituals and how to be temple priests, did practice some meditation, but mostly it was about learning how to run a temple and get the rituals down perfectly. And after they completed their basic training, their fathers or uncles would give them dharma transmission automatically and install their son as the temple priest. For the most part, transmission had nothing to do with spiritual attainment or wisdom or being great meditators.... it was to keep the temple system going.

By the way, it was incredibly important that the Buddhist sects were impeccable at being part of the Imperial religious system. Every few hundred years, there were campaigns to suppress Buddhism by the Shinto establishment (this also occurred in China by the Confucian establishment). This happened in Japan the 1870s when thousands of Buddhist temples were destroyed and a huge number of Buddhist priests were driven from the priesthood.

So, once you received dharma transmission, that was IT. As far as I know, that sort of thing can't be taken back or canceled. That wouldn't make much sense. I am sure some priests were defrocked for great malfeasance, but haven't seen much about that - and that wouldn't invalidate their transmission or lineage, just their role as temple priest. Monks who received dharma transmission were the dharma "heirs" of their father or whoever gave them transmission. I do not think there was anything higher or beyond that, except for some appointment as the abbot of some great temple or an imperial title given at death. So, i would say that Kennett's behavior with regard to granting recognition or titles or approval was a refection of her own need to control the dolls in her ego's doll house

The Rinzai sect is different. They also had to staff thousands of temples, but far less than the Soto sect. While in the Soto sect, transmission was routinely given after a few years, it seemed that in Rinzai, such recognition was not given until often after decades, after completing all the koans, etc. However, that being said, for the thousands of family temples under the Rinzai sect, they must have had a system to certify and staff temple priests in a way that made the locals feel that their priest was fully qualified to do the rituals and run the temple. And they couldn't take decades to train these priests. It may be that mostly what we have heard about Rinzai has been the rarefied examples and stories of the main training temples and famous teachers and the temple priests system has been mostly unreported. Certainly, D.T. Suzuki only wrote about the ideal system of Rinazi Zen and had no interested in temple Buddhism that was and is practiced in 99.9% of the cases. And Suzuki had zero interest in Soto Zen.

end of my little history babble.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:57 pm

Josh that is generally how I understood it was/is in Japan. More particularly in Rinzai as I understand it you go to a 'teaching' temple to become a priest just as in Soto, as you say very often a hereditary position. Again in Rinzai, after passing the initial koan(s), and learning the rituals, you were granted priesthood. Also in this sense the ability to become a temple priest for laity but not with the ability to ordain, this was kept very much within the hierarchy. If you went on and passed all the koans then you might be given Inka which meant that you could teach other monks and take people through the koan system yourself. This level allowed you to become a 'teaching' member of a 'teaching' temple, but normally you were expected to return to your home temple and perform rituals, etc. for the laity for some time before you were called back to a high position in a teaching temple, and sometimes you never were. This was a method that got round the basic problem, one that SA seems to be approaching rapidly, of an organisation of more and more chiefs and fewer and fewer indians. In the OBC case as I understand it they are tackling the problem by ever more and finer gradations within the hierarchy both laity and clergy. From a management studies perspective this staves off the problem for a bit but unless another way is found the system becomes increasingly top heavy, rule bound and moribund until collapses either by falling over, imploding or fading away.

Jiyu was a spanner in the works for this system as she had a more 'authentic' ordination than any of the other monks/nuns in Soto, who actually would have been held to have had a lower position to her, being seen as exalted laity by the rest of the Buddhist world, and the Soto hierarchy knew it. She had been ordained into a proper bikshuni lineage in Malaysia. The authentic Buddhist bikhu and bikshuni (monk and nun) ordination lineages having been lost in Japan some centuries before. I personally think that this partly accounts for the Soto hierarchies schizophrenic attitude towards her. They found it difficult, and once she was out of their immediate reach impossible, to discipline her, question her ordinations, or othewise call into question her teachings as she was a bikshuni in apparently good standing in a more authentic lineage that they knew they had no authority over.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:08 am

Mark, I think that your assessment here is spot on.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:25 am

Anne, thanks for instigating this discussion.

As always--you rock!
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Wed Jun 06, 2012 5:01 am

:-) Thank you, Kozan...by the way, inadvertently I counted you as several people above, due to your several (much appreciated) entries on the topic! :-)

I have found all this very interesting...I had been thinking that I might need to tiptoe back and ask, "What's the difference between a dharma heir and a roshi, or other sensei?" So thank you all (yes, that's accurate :-) for your contributions from personal experience/observations and knowledge of history, and Lise for asking the sensible question "is ['Dharma Heir'] supposed to be a permanent designation or choice?"

I think (?correctly/incorrectly/who knows) that Master Jiyu may have left several unrescinded dharma heirs at the time of her passing; but I am unclear as to whether this is an additional designation nowadays in the OBC above that of "master", i.e may be given separately or not at all...perhaps this is a question I could ask at Bright Moon...
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:06 am

Sorry, as Mark says, I'm an infrequent visitor here.

As to his note.

While, yes, I'm one of the many Dharma heirs, I suspect the allusion was to Mark, who was for a while the apple of her eye...

Also, the first of her Dharma heirs as something a bit different than simple Dharma transmission was Myozen Delport, later Miagowa. Of course that's going way way back...
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:28 am

:-) James, thanks for dropping by and adding your note re Myozen. I wonder if, in the early days of the Order of the Changing Name, Master Jiyu was designating whom she would want to take over the running of things, if she was incapacitated.

(Whomever the quote referred to, I think the departure of the "heir" happened around summer 1976, certainly after April and before October that year, from details in the first edition of How to Grow a Lotus Blossom.)
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Thu Jun 07, 2012 4:17 am

Anne wrote:
I wonder if, in the early days of the Order of the Changing Name, Master Jiyu was designating whom she would want to take over the running of things, if she was incapacitated

Exactly so. The key point that we've circled around here without actually articulating it, is that as Isan pointed out, we're all dharma heirs; and more specifically and technically, all of us who were transmitted monks.

The distinction, and the crux of your initial question, is that RMJK came to use the nuanced term in reference to the person (of the moment) who she felt best understood the 'marrow', the essence, of her own understanding. So it's not that the displaced person ceased to be a dharma heir, but that he or she ceased to be the dharma heir.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:17 am

:-) Thank you, Kozan. The mist has dispersed! (-:
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:45 pm

few thoughts on Kennett's Chinese ordination. The full bikshuni ordination was not done in Japan, nor the full monk ordination. Not only was it not done from earlier times, but the forced marriage of all priests in the 19th century put a nail in that coffin. But remember, the grand Japanese Zen story was that Chan/Zen had died out in China in the Sung dynasty and that Japanese Buddhism was far superior to all other forms of Buddhism. They told themselves that only in Japan was true Buddhism practiced. So when the Japanese forces invaded most of Asia, they took with them their monks and priests to convert all those other heathen buddhists to the Japanese true way. That had zero respect for other forms of buddhism.

So when Kennett arrives ordained as a Chinese nun, the Japanese probably had mixed but mostly negative feelings. It was weird enough for the Soto monks to have a woman, then a westerner at Sojiji, but she arrives in Chinese robes - unexpectedly!!!!

Also, yes, she was probably given the full official bikshuni ordination, but as soon as she went to Japan, she then never kept most of the rules. So it was just a ceremony and there is no magic to it. The ceremony was all in Chinese, so perhaps she may not have even known what she was agreeing to. But it is a strange disconnected situation. That ordination is mostly about agreeing to keep all the old rules - every hour, every day. And as we know, these rules come from ancient India, were adapted and changed somewhat by the Chinese, are very strict, and completely take over your life when you keep them. It is hardly a casual thing and it is not symbolic. And remember, those rules include the fact that all women are totally subservient the men, even a nun of 100 years is junior to a male monk of one day.

The Japanese had no interest in keeping the old rules, so i am not sure they respected the older Chinese ways at all. And Kennett must have seemed to most of the Soto monks to be very odd when she arrived dressed as a chinese nun. Not sure they would have thought that her chinese ordination was higher or better.

just some random thoughts here
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:27 pm

I am sure she must have seemed very odd when she arrived. Even causing a certain amount of behind the scenes consternation; she was not only ordained but ordained into Lin Chi, the Chinese Rinzai Zen school. The reason I am not so sure that they didn't respect the older Chinese ways is drawn from the fact that they she did not receive a Japanese ordination. Chisan Koho Zenji seems to have been put out by the ordination and reportedly did not like her ordination name of T'su-Yu, but he did not change it merely translating it to the Japanese equivalent of Jiyu. But I don't suppose we will ever know properly as the major source for all of this is her diaries as reworked in 'The Wild White Goose' which are inevitably one sided as they are her views and memories from that time when she did not understand either the Malay or the Japanese languages or cultures, and so did not fully understand what was going on.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sat Jun 09, 2012 12:19 pm

that whole chapter I am sure was confusing to her - not understanding the language or the cultures, the traditions, being an outsider - and everything was filtered through her hopes, dreams, back story, her assumptions about Zen and Buddhism, and her personality. So her account could never be "objective." Who knows?

With regard to Koho Zenji's view of Kennett's ordination, he could have respected it or it could have been more the case of just going along with it, allowing it. After all, she had just gone through this ceremony days before, so doing another ordination would have been confusing.

The Japanese had invaded Malaysia and occupied it during the war. My simple reading of this history says that the Japanese looked down upon all Chinese and certainly the Malay must had hated the Japanese. As noted, in terms of Buddhism, the Japanese believed the long-promoted myth that most Buddhism had degenerated in the world and that only in Japan was true Zen, true Buddhism alive. And on the other hand, the Chinese saw Japanese Buddhism as corrupt, imperial, a system where monks married and had sex, drank liquor, did not keep the old rules -- and then conquered them - and even tried to convert them to Japanese religion.

And in the period after the war, Buddhism was in serious decline in Japan (and that decline continues) and probably in all of Asia. All kinds of new religious movements, hybrid religions, independent guru cults were springing up. Evangelical Christianity was starting to spread in Asia. Asian Buddhists wanted the approval and connection to the West, they wanted western converts and attention. So Kennett innocently walks into that - first in Malaysia - where her ordination is front page news -and then in Japan where Koho Zenji wants Kennett to be a western missionary of Soto Zen as soon as she finishes her training - as quickly as possible really - to compete with Rinzai's dominant PR position in the west. Zen MISSION Society. She saw herself as a missionary. So old fashion really. So Christian.

One thing I recently remembered. Kim Seng came to visit Shasta - I forget which year. Probably something like 1975. His visit was a big event for Kennett and Shasta - lots of preparation. Kennett was making a huge deal of it. For her it was confirming her non-Japanese dharma connection, she saw Kim Seng's coming as confirmation of her as a teacher / abbot.

But it turned into an odd, somewhat strained visit. Kim Seng came across as an older conventional monk, hardly a grand dharma teacher. As I recall, except for visiting the Zendo on his arrival, for some reason he wouldn't come to the Zendo again or join in any activities - not morning service, not meditation. He might have given one dharma talk, but he mostly just stayed up in the guest house and Kennett would visit him once or twice a day. She found this odd - we all did - and stressful. Clearly, she really wanted his approval, recognition, respect. At one point, she brought up her transmission silks and showed them to him - it felt like she wanted him to acknowledge her. But he just nodded and didn't seem to say much. At least that how it looked from where i was sitting.

Some of us senior monks would hang out with him during the days. We didn't know what else to do. We would make small talk, ask him questions, keep him engaged, eat with him. It was strained, forced. I do remember that after the visit where Kennett showed him her silks, after she left, he turned to me -- there might have been another monk with me in the guest house -- and he said something that at the time was quite unsettling.

He said, "There is no dharma left in Japan - not for hundreds of years. China, the dharma has been suppressed by the communists, so buddhism is dying there. Maybe in Tibet is there still some authentic Dharma. Kennett is a very nice lady, but you monks should leave and go find yourself a real teacher." I couldn't quite believe that he was saying this. It seemed so inappropriate, even sexist. I was tongue tied. I think i just nodded. And then he repeated it. We should all leave and find a real teacher. I did not share his comments with anyone else I don't think. I didn't want to tell Kennett since it would have upset her greatly, to say the least. As I thought about it, i just found it offensive that he would say that to us. We were also not used to any kind of direct talk like this at Shasta.

Now this is how i remember what happened. There may have been another monk in the room when he said this -- who posts to this website -- who has their own recollection of this interchange.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sat Jun 09, 2012 1:38 pm

Jcbaran wrote:
He said, "There is no dharma left in Japan - not for hundreds of years. China, the dharma has been suppressed by the communists, so buddhism is dying there. Maybe in Tibet is there still some authentic Dharma. Kennett is a very nice lady, but you monks should leave and go find yourself a real teacher." I couldn't quite believe that he was saying this. It seemed so inappropriate, even sexist. I was tongue tied. I think i just nodded. And then he repeated it. We should all leave and find a real teacher. I did not share his comments with anyone else I don't think. I didn't want to tell Kennett since it would have upset her greatly, to say the least. As I thought about it, i just found it offensive that he would say that to us. We were also not used to any kind of direct talk like this at Shasta.

Now this is how i remember what happened. There may have been another monk in the room when he said this -- who posts to this website -- who has their own recollection of this interchange.

I remember Kim Seng's visit, but as a younger monk at the time I was on the periphery. I remember that JK was courting him in part to validate the OBC (and, as you say, herself) in light of the disconnect with the Soto Head Office. Who else was with you when Kim Seng made the comment about the SA monks leaving and finding a "real teacher"?

JK did manage to forge a more substantial alliance with the Malaysian sangha at some point, but it was after I left and I don't know how it was done. Kim Seng may not have been alive at that point. Perhaps someone else can elaborate?
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:10 pm

Josh, this is a tough one to guess but do you think that the absence of tight vinaya might have affected Kim Seng's perceptions of the Order/Shasta and Jiyu as a teacher?

(Musing...when I was a postulant in 1975, I recall some anticipation of him visiting Throssel, which never transpired. I wonder if his doubts deterred him...)
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sat Jun 09, 2012 3:36 pm

Not really on-point with the question asked, but - Gensho had a comment on another thread, re: Seck Kim Seng's visit:

"I do now recall the visit of Ven. Kim Seng (sp?), Kennett's ordination
master who came to Shasta in 74 or 75 (anyone clarify that date?). He
came with another monk and they stayed only a short time - about a week.
He was very disappointed that Roshi did not come to the meditation hall
and sit with the sangha. Roshi stayed in her chair wearing her knee
high black leather boots; it was too much for Kim Seng and he left
sooner than planned. Roshi was very worried by his visit, specifically
she was concerned that we would 'poach' her seniors and take them East
for training."


http://obcconnect.forumotion.net/t135-kennett-and-meditation
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:51 am

I had not seen Gensho's previous post on this. I didn't remember some of the details mentioned about why Kim Seng was upset. I may not have heard that he was upset that Kennett did not meditate with the monks.

There was undoubtedly a variety of different takes on what went down. I would add that Kennett had little connection or relationship to Kim Seng, beyond the quick ordination. This was clear the minute he arrived. Through the visit, she was clearly trying to use him to bolster her stature -- mostly in her own mind - to counter her own inner insecurities.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:52 pm

Jcbaran wrote:
There was undoubtedly a variety of different takes on what went down. I would add that Kennett had little connection or relationship to Kim Seng, beyond the quick ordination.

I feel we are all generally in agreement about the tone of Kim Seng's visit, however this statement takes it to another level:

He said, "There is no dharma left in Japan - not for hundreds of years.
China, the dharma has been suppressed by the communists, so Buddhism is
dying there. Maybe in Tibet is there still some authentic Dharma.
Kennett is a very nice lady, but you monks should leave and go find
yourself a real teacher"

It seems from this statement that Kim Seng is implying that JK was not a real teacher because "there is no Dharma left in Japan". That's a serious criticism, but not as bad as if he meant it as a personal criticism. I'd appreciate it if you could shed more light on this. You said there may have been another monk in the room when this was said - who?
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:43 pm

can't remember if there was another shasta monk in the room when this was said or I was there alone. there were a bunch of us that were hanging out with him and his monk attendant, and we were coming and going, bringing up food, going to fetch stuff, so really can't remember.

Also can't know how broad Kim Seng's criticism was, but he seemed clearly dismissive of Kennett, her training in Japan, and her role as a teacher. I felt that there was also the implication that we shouldn't be disciples of a woman, but i could have been assuming that.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sun Jun 10, 2012 2:55 pm

Jcbaran wrote:

Also can't know how broad Kim Seng's criticism was, but he seemed clearly dismissive of Kennett, her training in Japan, and her role as a teacher. I felt that there was also the implication that we shouldn't be disciples of a woman, but i could have been assuming that.

OK, thanks. By the way, do you know what prompted the visit in the first place? Did JK invite him or did he decide to come on his own?
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:09 pm

My memory of Kim Seng's visit is certainly in accord with what Gensho, Josh, and Isan have posted.

Although I did visit with Kim Seng, I was not present for the particular meeting that Josh describes. (I think that Gensho in particular, or perhaps Kyogen, are the likely possibilities that Josh mentioned). It would not surprise me if Kim Seng did make the comments that Josh remembers.

I'm guessing that Kim Seng's visit was in 1974. I recently came across the group photo that I took of all of us, during the time of his visit (the 8"x10" color print is in front of me as I type this). It includes lay members who were at the Abbey at the time, as well. (Unfortunately, I don't have a scanner, so I can't upload it now.) If Kim Seng's visit were in 1975 (latter than July 5th), Josh and I would be wearing purple kesas; we are wearing gold in the photo.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:53 pm

:-) My memory may be faulty on this but I think it was around April/May 1975 that Mark, as Throssel's Prior, mentioned to me that Kim Seng was expected to visit THP in the near future, after Shasta. (Mark was having serious doubts about me at the time...which thank goodness he has forgotten, perhaps only to be replaced by new ones!... and seemed to be hoping that Kim Seng would be able to settle the matter. (But judging from the above, I think I would have been in the drink either way! ;-)) I think this may have been said while Kim Seng was either at Shasta or imminently expected there. What does the weather look like in the photo, Kozan?
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:23 pm

Anne, Spring 1975 is very possible.

It's almost impossible to tell what time of year it is (in formal outdoor photographs) based on what monks are wearing--unless it's Winter! Two lay people are wearing short sleeved shirts, another is wearing long sleeves rolled up, and one is wearing long sleeves rolled down. The most compelling evidence suggesting early to mid Spring rather than Summer, is that the fifth lay person is wearing what appears to be a second wool shirt, or shirt-jacket, with the sleeves rolled down. Shasta's summers tend to be very hot.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:38 am

:-) Thanks for the detailed info, Kozan. (-:
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:25 pm

So Jiyu Kennett's Ordination Teacher told Josh to find a true teacher back in 75, It would have been nice to know this at the time in detail,as it would have put an incredible different slant on Mark and myself being discredited by Jiyu Kennett by letter to the English public at that time, whereas in some way their ought to have been a letter circulated with the opinions of the Ordination Master, to give guidance to those that sought the true way.

This particular post of Annes is about Jiyu Kennett talking about a new Dharma heir, and comparing the new heir to an old Dharma heir, it is in a fairly demeaning way, but really the discussion way back then should have centered around what the Ordination Master said. it is important. Whenever this happened Spring, Summer or Autumn I was in England, I did not know exactly what was said but I did know it happened and knew that the Ordination Master's reaction was unfavorable towards Jiyu Kennett,and I did take some comfort back then from the actions and words of the ordination teacher,I saw this sort of action in Japan,when western people wanted their interpretation of zen rubber stamped, the good teachers were not up for sale.

With Jiyu Kennett, No one felt they could talk,criticize or communicate, about the real issues, we simply were not allowed to, how stupid is this. It is a clear sign that we should have found a true teacher and the fact that no one felt free to talk about the real issues, as we were not allowed to, tells the usual sad story about human beings controlling human beings. How stupid is this.

Daisin Morgan's response to our critical discussion over a year ago I believe was to write something in praise of Jiyu Kennett saying something like she could spot an ego at 100 yards or words like that,this statement shows a lot about the understanding of Jiyu Kennett and her extremely limited teaching, she seemed unable to accept other people and most probably her self. In Zen, regardless of any attainment or realization, the bull's tail still swishes itself around. Anyway the eventual Dharma heir was caught on the phone playing with himself, what is that about? Not able to accept himself? or years of knotting himself up? years of disciplining his 'self'? A good psychologist could tell us quite clearly that poking the self,or self image, or idea of self, or denying the self will always come back and bite you, when we claim big kenshos we need to sit down and quietly read the heart sutra, back to the real Dharma heir and his problems after years of training his 'self', and disciplining other peoples, it is sad but disillusioned people always seem to end up on a phone, in some seedy room playing with themselves.

I think it is fair to say I agree with the Ordination Master,he cut through it all right , and got to the heart of the matter, it would have saved a lot of hassle to bring it out into the open then, it would have been quite simple to say, 'by the way the Ordination Master thinks we should find true teachers,I believe in the Buddhas teachings I do not want to settle for less, so I am off but thanks for all the help'.The shunning, the discrediting,the holy visions were all unnecessary cover ups. Mark and I had letters circulated about us because we dared speak out about someone thinking they were once Jesus,I am sure the Ordination Master would liked to have joined us.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:49 pm

chisanmichaelhughes wrote:
So Jiyu Kennett's Ordination Teacher told Josh to find a true teacher back in 75, It would have been nice to know this at the time in detail, as it would have put an incredible different slant on Mark and myself being discredited by Jiyu Kennett by letter to the English public at that time, whereas in some way their ought to have been a letter circulated with the opinions of the Ordination Master, to give guidance to those that sought the true way.

To be fair Josh quoted Kim Seng as having said:

"There is no dharma left in Japan - not for hundreds of years. China,
the dharma has been suppressed by the communists, so Buddhism is dying
there. Maybe in Tibet there is still some authentic Dharma. Kennett is
a very nice lady, but you monks should leave and go find yourself a
real teacher."

Based on the above it's unclear whether the criticism is directed at Jiyu Kennett specifically or at Japanese Buddhism in general. Actually, based on the wording I'd say he was criticizing Japanese Buddhism, and implied that JK was not a real teacher by virtue of her lineage and not for some personal deficit.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:07 pm

Isan wrote:


Based on the above it's unclear whether the criticism is directed at Jiyu Kennett specifically or at Japanese Buddhism in general. Actually, based on the wording I'd say he was criticizing Japanese Buddhism, and implied that JK was not a real teacher by virtue of her lineage and not for some personal deficit.

As an observer I'm not really in a position to comment or speculate, but my take on Gensho's and Josh's comments above is that Kim Seng was disturbed by Kennett's behaviour during his visit, rather than by his views of Japanese Buddhism. If he had felt she wasn't a real teacher due to her lineage, would he have made the visit to Shasta at all? The firsthand accounts suggest his reaction (staying away from services, etc.) was due to what he saw going on after he got there. Just my take on the above -
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:06 pm

That is pretty much how I heard it at the time, He did not really like what he saw, and left early,this apparantly unsettled Jiyu Kennett as she was hoping for recognition.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sat Jun 30, 2012 2:05 am

:-) Hi CMH! Nice to see you back in town!

Are you clear that Seck Kim Seng visited Shasta the year before Jiyu had the visions you mention, and a couple of years before the circulation of that letter about you and Mark?

I saw you in spring (?early summer) '75 in the kitchen at Throssel, when you were visiting the priory with Kyosei and wee bairn...I seem to recall you and Prior Mark warming your robed butts at the Aga (probably you just needed somewhere to stand in that small kitchen) and Mark asked for your advice--half serious/half jokingly (or maybe the ratio was 2:1 or higher!)--on what to do about me; I too was with shaved nut and robes. Mark stayed with Jiyu in Shasta between September and November 1976, and the letter was dated September 1977. A lot can happen in a year of training, let alone two.

This isn't an argy-bargy about what you were saying; I just wondered if time had gone into a great blur for you, and whether unravelling some might be helpful...

Back in '75, would you have been influenced by what Kim Seng said, had you been informed (if you can recall--I'm not trying to be cheeky;-)? I remember no rumours of your being uneasy about Jiyu at that time, but no one had to inform me of any. (-:
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:01 am

I can not remember the time I was told this,it may not have been when it happened it may have been after it happened,but being fresh info i have thought it new info i can not say.

I can not rmember the incident in the kitchen,I often rack my brains to remember you too,I saw a photo you posted briefly of yourself, to be quite honest I thought wow what an attractive lady( hormones clearly still working then) did you used to wear glasses?

Would I have been influened? Well very good question I had heard about Kim Seng since 1970 he was an important part of Jiyu's story and her persona and authority. At that time I was embarking my spiritual journey and right person right background right tradition were important to me. If you read Chris's recent posts and he talks of Sangharashita (incidently I believe I read a piece in the Mail about his sexual behaviour) I wanted to feel I was in a good organisation. I was very fond of Jiyu and thoought she was a good teacher,There were certain things I liked I did feel I had found spiritual direction in my life, and certain things I did not like, like the belittleing of Toby Humphries, Ruth Walsh,Buddhist Society, Japan, Buddhism in Japan, the need to call us the reformed Soto Sect, it seemed a bit peculiar when someone so young to zen took it upon themselves to want to reform the Soto sect, In the temple I was in in Japan wfurther up the mountain was a small Shingon temple that had fallen into disrepair, our temple maintained it somewhat,and every month did a Shingon ceremony, to help keep the religion alive,I like this.. this attitude and it touched my heart,I want spirituality to move me. So would I have been influenced or effected yes I would. When Mark left Shasta,I knew before anyone,not because he told me my zazen told me, it was because of that I wanted to speak to Mark on his return, I phoned Jisho and asked him I believe, Jishos response made me want to talk to Mark more,When I asked Jisho about Gensho his response told me there was something very wrong.

I think we should listen to ourselves,be influenced by our meditation,walk the path we walk, 2 days ago my girlfriend ( much younger than me) whom I do not live with woke up at 3 am thinking she was pregnant, next day she bought a pregnacy testing kit, it was positive she is 4 weeks pregnant and was not due or just due her period but she responded to something in side her, Life is very rich and difficult it is easy to think our path and spirituality lays somewhere else, the true way and our original nature is always here.

Anne not only do I enjoy getting to know who you are, I would like to know who you were!
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sat Jun 30, 2012 6:57 am

:-) Thank you for that, Chisan.

As you say, when one hears something for the first time it can seem like new news even if it's not so new.

I did indeed wear specs...I had forgotten to mention that. I don't recall whether they were wire-framed or 'flesh-tint' NHS plastic. (If Mark told you any dirt on me, I demand to know!)

When Mark left Shasta, I guess you were sensing his mind-energy?

I hope all goes well with the pregnancy. (-:
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:25 am

:-) Reflecting more about Seck Kim Seng's visit to Shasta, it seems unlikely to me that he would have seen something that no one else saw; if anything, he would have seen less, and certainly been less familiar with it. I don't see his comments as signifying that he had some great insight into Jiyu, just that he did not think she behaved as a teacher should.

A photo appears in Wild White Goose of her ordination by Kim Seng in his Malaysian temple, Cheng Hoon Teng (described in the book as "a Rinzai monastery in Malacca"). I looked up details online but all seemed pretty much aimed at 'cultural Buddhists' and tourists. The main prayer-hall is dedicated to Kuan-Yin/Kanzeon but, for serving the Chinese community of Malacca, the temple provides also for Taoists and Confucians. Hard to say how different it would have been in 1962, when Jiyu was ordained, but I guess that tourism would have increased.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheng_Hoon_Teng
http://www.chenghoonteng.org.my/
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sat Jun 30, 2012 11:16 am

Some random thoughts.

First, as we have ruminated, we can't know what this fellow was thinking or reacting to. There is so much "back story" - so it could have been complicated, but clearly he had a negative reaction and could have included anti-Japanese feelings, conventional negative view that men should not learn from a woman, westernized aspects of Buddhism that he didn't understand or appreciate, lack of Shasta monks following various old rules or traditions, and his feelings about Kennett, who knows?

For a very long time, Chinese Buddhism was a combination of Taoism, Confucianism, folk religion, Chan, Pure Land. There was no "pure" Rinzai or Chan for hundreds of years. Pure Chan may never have existed even way back in the earliest times.

I would assume that Kennett's ordination was a kind of publicity event / stunt - that's the way it sounded - and as i recall, she seemed confused by all the public attention and the event itself. Would not be unexpected for Kim Seng to use the event for publicity, marketing, much competition between temples and religions all over Asia - and back then, having a westerner being ordained would be seen as a big deal.

In terms of Kim Seng's visit to Shasta, it may very well have been more traumatic for Kennett that we realized at the time. She desperately sought adoration, appreciation, approval, recognition. She had cut herself off from the Japanese, so Kim Seng's coming may have been a big deal in her mind, in her narrative, with strong hopes that he would give her a certain kind of recognition that indeed she was a "master", and not just a nun.

And so when his visit did not go that well and he did not give her the praise and recognition she wanted, I wonder if that didn't lay the groundwork for the coming deterioration, insecurity, and lotus blossom confusion? Just speculating here. She might have felt severely disrespected, rejected by him - not that he was that rude or dismissive, but if she had very high hopes, they would have been dashed. Just some random thoughts here.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sat Jun 30, 2012 2:41 pm

:-) I too have been wondering if Kim Seng's visit did not have a major impact on Jiyu, and will float some "random thoughts"...

I think it cannot be unusual for someone who is 'flying high'--in the sense of their inner life having become for them so much better/happier than before, having trained deeply over a period and had various liberative insights--to have an encounter that starts to throw into focus (even if seen unclearly and peripherally at first) an area of major spiritual doubt. uhoh Shocked eek Da-DAAargh!

I think it very natural for the spirit to long for meaningful communication and connection with others, and to be valued and 'recognised' and not doubted for the sake of this (not for vanity); but as you say, Josh, there are other reasons, including practical ones, why one may seek approval and recognition. Even without the latter, I think that being called into question by someone whom one much esteems spiritually could have a double effect: the shock and dismay of failed rapport and communication; and their expressed doubts perhaps triggering or intensifying doubts of ones own.

Also I think that, for a teacher who feels a sense of responsibility and obligation for those under their care and for running a temple (and for the future of that temple and the generations of as-yet-unknown persons who will want to train), 'becoming a beginner' again and dropping all that one thought one knew may seem the antithesis of what they think is necessary for fulfilling their duties as teacher and head of the temple--big irony and dilemma in Buddhist training!

When one comes up against a major spiritual question--particularly if one was not expecting it, having assumed that all would be clearer and clearer and more and more wonderful (because maybe for a long time ones life did get more and more wonderful)--if it looks big and dark and scary, the first response may be to hope one is just imagining it and that it will go away; but if it doesn't, I have various theories why the head of a training-temple might put off looking at it, e.g a) there's no one around whom they look up to who tells them "Always be willing to be a beginner" and keeps driving the point home, b) they may just look forward to scheduled dhyanaland as a way of escape--it's healthier than booze, but like the latter the problem's still there when they come back...but then just take another shot next period (though this may eventually lose its lustre), c) the aforementioned antithesis ("Who or what is going to look after this place and help these people if I take an unknown period to be an ignoramus?"), d) they may wonder who would be willing to foot the bill for them to not know the answers... All this apart from the mighty dread known to monk and lay alike--that one may lose everything one thought one knew and all comes tumbling down...

I will go eat a salad and watch an online episode of Eureka to lighten myself up! ;-)
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sat Jun 30, 2012 3:14 pm

You can't escape life and death
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:05 pm

Anne wrote:
I think it very natural for the spirit to long for meaningful communication and connection with others, and to be valued and 'recognised' and not doubted for the sake of this (not for vanity); but as you say, Josh, there are other reasons, including practical ones, why one may seek approval and recognition. Even without the latter, I think that being called into question by someone whom one much esteems spiritually could have a double effect: the shock and dismay of failed rapport and communication; and their expressed doubts perhaps triggering or intensifying doubts of ones own.

Apart from personal issues there was reason enough for JK to feel vulnerable during Kim Seng's visit. No one has confirmed this, but it seemed that he decided, as her ordination master, that it was his right and duty to show up and she didn't feel able to say no. One of her main concerns was the fact that she had ordained married couples, which was contrary to Buddhist practice in Kim Seng's tradition (Theravada?) On that basis alone he could have felt she wasn't a "real teacher". This would be an awkward and uncomfortable situation for anyone to be in, and it's hard to see how the visit could have gone well regardless. JK would have had to be practicing in Kim Seng's tradition for that to be a possibility. Instead she had embraced Soto Zen and was following rules that are not acceptable in Theravadin practice. Choosing to see the way this situation played out as an example of JK's insecurity which then led to a deterioration of her practice is speculative - I dare say prejudicial - and not supported by what little factual information we have IMHO.
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:27 pm

:-) I think he was in a Mahayana framework, Isan, but evidently a celibate one.

Many things may lead to deterioration in physical health (was that what you meant, Josh?), a prolonged inner conflict being one of them; and resolution of that particular conflict would likely see an improvement in ones physical health, which seems to be what JK reported in HGLB. (From Daizui's forward to the first edition: "...During the autumn of 1975, Kennett Roshi began to fall ill, suffering from increasing water retention, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiac irregularity. By April of 1976 she had become too ill to continue with her duties as Abbess of Shasta Abbey..." I seem also to remember hearing Prior Mark, during the spring-summer term at Throssel, express concern that she was unwell and that he wanted to visit her, but perhaps this was unrelated to the autumn development.)

P.S ...CMH, I almost escaped...and then came the credits (-:
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sat Jun 30, 2012 6:15 pm

Yes a peculiar situation Jiyu ostracized herself from Soto zen in Japan,Kim Seng ostraczsed himself from Jiyu
and then Jiyu starts to ostracize herself from her disciples
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sun Jul 01, 2012 4:45 am

:-) Did the name "Reformed Soto Zen Church" reflect departure simply from the administrative/bureaucratic/corporate structure of Soto Zen in Japan, not departure from the doctrinal side or basic spiritual practice? In returning to the West to found the Zen Mission Society, Jiyu Kennett seems to have been following the wishes of Keido Chisan; it was not under a directive from the Soto Zen HQ in Japan, so perhaps founding a clearly different organisation was the only practicable option.

From a Google search, the HQ of Soto Zen in Japan is called Sotoshu Sumucho (Sotoshu = Soto school; Sumucho = ?). According to Wikipedia, Zenshuji is the North American HQ, operating "under the guidance of Sotoshu Sumucho": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zenshuji

Present organisation of global Sotoshu Sumucho, from its website global.sotozen-net.or.jp...

According to this website, there are "two Sotoshus in the USA": Zenshuji (mentioned above) is the HQ for Japanese immigrants; the other is the San Francisco Zen Centre (which has several practice centres), founded by Shunryu Suzuki and the American converts/practitioners who gathered around him: http://global.sotozen-net.or.jp/eng/temples/outside_jp/a_year_of_temples/sfzc_1.html (I do not know if this distinction means that the SFZC is regarded as subordinate or parallel to Zenshuji.)
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sun Jul 01, 2012 5:43 am

You are a super star Anne, In all the universe there is only one Anne,

I cant read the chart...let alone understand it.

My limited understanding is that there is flexability,in that if you want to be a part then be a part of it, if you want to leave then leave. I know that Sotoshu is aware of some problems of Soto zen in the west, and I believe that it is felt that the problems arise when one steps outside the tradition and teaches their version of Zen.

We are free individuals, we can make our own decisions, live our own lives, the problems arise in the case of zen when other people especially vulnerable trusting people, are taken advantage of in the name of Zen. It is very tough as people are loyal and trusting and want to believe in something or someone to make their lives better
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PostSubject: Re: RMJK and choosing a Dharma Heir   Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:30 am

:-) You surely don't think I understood that chart, do you? drunken There seem to be lots of departments with lines joining some and not others. CMH, do you think that a Western organisation that began as separate from "Sotoshu Sumucho" could, if it saw benefit, apply to be part of SS?

There is, of course, a Wikipedia article on the San Francisco Zen Centre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco_Zen_Center) ...but, having read it, I am completely in the dark as to whether or not it is now a discreet body from Sotoshu Sumucho confused
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