OBC Connect

A site for those with an interest in the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, past or present, and related subjects.
 
HomeHome  CalendarCalendar  GalleryGallery  FAQFAQ  SearchSearch  RegisterRegister  Log in  

Share | 
 

 Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
Jcbaran

avatar

Posts : 1614
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 66
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   Mon Apr 08, 2013 1:38 am

This was posted on the sweepingzen.com website.

http://sweepingzen.com/why-are-roshi-jiyu-kennetts-disciples-so-reclusive/

Please note - this site is very open about posting essays from any zen group or writer - without editing, and also anyone is free to comment on sweepingzen directly. I am thinking about responding. This post deserves some comment. I think this piece demonstrates perhaps a new OBC public strategy -- admitting a little bit that Kennett had some flaws or perhaps poorly communicated. What do people here think?

Why Are Roshi Jiyu Kennett’s Disciples So Reclusive?

Posted by: Seikai Luebke on April 6, 2013


In 1969 Roshi Jiyu Kennett left Japan, where she had spent most of the decade of the 1960s training at Sojiji monastery, and running her own small temple. Arriving in San Francisco, she stayed briefly with Suzuki Roshi, who was teaching Zen to young, idealistic baby boomers, hungry for authentic teaching from the mystical Far East, especially if it included talk of enlightenment and meditation practice – zazen. She was willing to teach that, and more, to this generation of enthusiastic seekers. In so doing, she established herself among the first wave of Zen teachers to leave China, Japan and Korea, and take the risky plunge of teaching Westerners.

Now more than 40 years have gone by, and Jiyu Kennett, like most of that first wave of Zen teachers, has been dead for some time – 16 years in her case. Her books were never wildly popular in the way that The Three Pillars of Zen and Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind were; books which were read by anyone even remotely interested in what Zen had to offer in those early years. But she attracted a loyal following, and there was a general awareness of her presence within the Zen community in America.

There were two ways in which she did, however, make an impact on the transplanting of Zen – or for that matter Buddhism in general – into Western society and culture. One was the fact of her being female, and as a female, was able to gain all the qualifications necessary to teach as a fully independent Zen Master; this was new for women. Over the years I have heard many times, from female Buddhist practitioners, that Jiyu Kennett’s story, as recorded autobiographically in her book The Wild, White Goose, was a major inspiration to them. If she can do it, I can do it, too.

The other thing she did which made an impact was to start a monastery as opposed to a Zen Center or a Dharma Center. Herein lies the answer to the question “why are her disciples so reclusive?” Shasta Abbey, which she founded in 1970, evolved into a place for Zen training wherein the main focus was on being a monk, and training as a monk, rather than on Zen practice as being for everyone. This has also been inspirational for those Buddhist teachers arriving in America intending to establish monastic practice within their tradition – but ironically not so much in the Zen tradition. Many of those teachers who have wanted to establish a Buddhist monastery have paid a visit to Shasta Abbey to see what Jiyu Kennett did that has, at least for now, survived the first few difficult decades.

Jiyu Kennett’s approach was to establish monastic training first, with the hope that, having trained up a generation of monks capable of teaching in their own right, creating a larger Sangha of lay practitioners would be the natural evolutionary outcome of doing so. Most of the Zen teachers and roshis who came to America looked at it the other way around: train up lay people first, cast the net wide, and you’re bound to produce a few monks and/or priests in the process. A few teachers, like Maezumi Roshi, ordained a fairly large number of people as Zen priests; one difficulty that has existed, however, is a lack of clarity concerning lay ordination and priest ordination, which are distinct levels of ordination and training, despite the fact that the same set of 16 precepts are taken in both ceremonies.

There is a certain logic in both approaches, but Jiyu Kennett herself changed so much in the process of teaching monks that her initial vision was never realized. Initially, she had the idea of creating a three year training program to produce Zen priests capable of leaving the monastery and establishing some sort of temple, Zendo or practice center (she used the old English word priory). To her mind, this would have reflected what existed in Japan when she lived there, and as it happened, some of her disciples did establish small temples or priories. But a profound shift happened before this idea could be brought to any kind of fruition: the adoption of celibacy. And the adoption of celibacy at Shasta Abbey came about as a result of the spiritual awakening accompanied by a long series of visions which she had in 1976. Her book How to Grow a Lotus Blossom or How a Zen Buddhist Prepares for Death was her accounting of that awakening.

Within the space of a few years, the focus at Shasta Abbey shifted from being a seminary, where one could be trained to do the job of a Zen priest, to a monastery, where one stayed put and lived the life of a monk. Jiyu Kennett decided that it took longer than three years to adequately train someone to be a priest. Plus, she would rather have her disciples stay in the monastery than leave it for the purpose of establishing a temple; her focus turned almost entirely inwards, within the tiny mandala of Shasta Abbey. This inward focus still exists there, and partially explains why none of her disciples have any kind of public presence or are well-known Zen teachers, with the notable exceptions of Kyogen and Gyokuko Carlson and James Ford, who is also a Unitarian minister. And the three of them all were gone from Shasta Abbey by the early 1980s. (The situation is a bit different in Jiyu Kennett’s native country, England, where a few of her disciples have a higher profile.)

Having entered the community of Shasta Abbey in 1977, I was witness to most of these changes as they unfolded. Jiyu Kennett changed the name of her newly founded order from Zen Mission Society to Reformed Soto Zen Church, and then to Order of Buddhist Contemplatives (OBC)—the last change being for the explicit purpose of removing the word Zen from the name, thus distancing herself from the rest of the Zen community in America, for which she did not have a high regard. It could be confusing knowing what was a policy versus what was an actual rule on the books. According to Kyogen, who was the Executive Secretary at Shasta for some time, “JK would occasionally decide that at some meeting in the past we had decided such and such a matter, and then have me record it as if I were recording it at the time. Most of the time these “decisions” had not really been made at all, although there would have been some discussion of the issue at hand. We all just went along with this. I think all of this led to uncertainty as to what rules really meant, and which ones might apply at any point in time. There was a caveat in place that said that the application of any rule was subject to the “discretion” of the abbot. That meant, in effect, that the abbot could pretty much rule arbitrarily. No wonder there was confusion.”

This latter issue – concentration of power in the hands of one human being, and the inevitable tendency to abuse power or wield it gratuitously – is one that many Zen organizations in America have had trouble with. Apparently it works in the context of Japanese society, but I’ve come to the conclusion that in America, with its democratic and egalitarians ideals, we need to find a better way of doing things, one which works well for Americans. The fact that we all went along with it at the time speaks to the huge power differential that existed then, that it was virtually impossible to challenge or openly question a teacher like Jiyu Kennett.

In the late 70s and early 80s there was a relatively small group of her disciples who had been ordained as Zen priests and trained as monks, but who were also married. They had to choose between living celibate lives in the monastery or as couples elsewhere. Some people who were caught in the middle of this change have said that Rev. Master Jiyu advised them to either “dissolve their marriage” – i.e. not live as a couple – or get a divorce, making it possible for them to train as monks under vows of celibacy rather than marriage. She may very well have done this – I don’t know. The split which Kyogen and Gyokuko Carlson made from the OBC in 1986 centered more specifically on the definition of discipleship and the dynamics of that relationship; their marriage, which happened a few years earlier before celibacy had been codified in the rules for the whole OBC, was not the central issue. In a larger context, however, the problem was that Rev. Master Jiyu had changed course, the change directly affected the lives of people who had trained with her, and she hadn’t always been totally clear about what her expectations were, what was and was not allowed, and what was an actual rule versus what was a policy which might ultimately prove to be temporary. The adoption of celibacy for all priest ordained trainees in the OBC, regardless of where they lived, took place in 1985.

The mid-1980s was a time of upheaval within Shasta Abbey, just as it was at the San Francisco Zen Center in the wake of the dismissal of Richard Baker as the abbot there. Several senior monks at the Abbey were unhappy with the way Rev. Master Jiyu had steered the community in the direction of strict authoritarian leadership, very tight discipline, and isolation from the world. The outcome of this unhappiness was the departure of a number of people who had been training there for in most cases 10 to 15 years. And Rev. Master Jiyu’s response to those departures was to turn increasingly inwards and to doing progressively less teaching as time went on.

This progression of changes was reflected in the use of titles within the monastery. In the 70s, Jiyu Kennett was referred to simply as “Roshi”, same as many other Zen masters and teachers in America then, and no doubt still today. That changed to the title “Rev. Zenji”, which in Japan would be used as a very honorific title only for very high ranking priests (Eko Little, her successor at Shasta Abbey, put through that particular change). A few years later, ‘Rev. Zenji’ was dropped in favor of “Rev. Master”, which she decided was an appropriate translation of ‘roshi’. That title is still used for monks of the OBC who have been qualified as Zen Masters as a result of sufficient years of training and depth of understanding.

From the early 80s onward, Rev. Master Jiyu spent relatively little time and energy teaching a lay audience. She would spend one week during the summer teaching at UC Extension in San Francisco, but that was about the extent of it. She rarely spoke to lay people within the monastery as well, leaving that task to her most trusted senior monks. I think she wanted her monks to become capable teachers of Zen who could then potentially reach out to a larger audience; the only problem was that she really didn’t have the energy or inclination to teach monks how to teach. One learned through a process of osmosis, which meant that her disciples have inadvertently copied some of her personality traits, and have also made the mistake of trying to teach lay people who have wives, husbands, partners, children, careers and busy lives in a manner that would be more suited to teaching novice monks.

Diabetes, a disease which she developed during her years in Japan, took an increasing toll on Rev. Master Jiyu’s health as the years passed, and helps to explain why she was unable to do more in the way of teaching herself, or teaching others to teach. The last six years of her life were spent in relative seclusion, as she lost the ability to walk and needed progressively more and more personal care. One of her doctors remarked that the reason she lived as long as she did was due to the intensive, tender loving care provided by the circle of disciples that was always around her, and made attending to her needs their first priority. It also meant that, as a community, Shasta Abbey didn’t have the collective energy to spend on traveling, teaching, cultivating a wider Sangha, or any of the things necessary to have a recognizable public presence in the larger Zen community in America.

Over the past 16 years since she died, it has seemed to me that although some attempt was made initially to reach out to a larger audience, on the whole the habit energy of how things were done for so long has stayed with Jiyu Kennett’s disciples. We were trained to be monks, first and foremost, who lived a relatively secluded, cloistered existence. Our attention was always focused inwards, both on the level of personal practice, and within how the monastery existed. The adoption of vows of celibacy had a large impact with respect to how members of the OBC have related to the rest of the Zen community in America. It set Shasta Abbey and the OBC apart as an organization that was doing something radically different by the standards of the Zen world.

The existence of a non-celibate Zen priesthood is something which extends back in time only a bit over a century, to the second half of the 19th Century. It was a profound shift, made during the Meiji Restoration, which was an attempt to diminish the power of the Zen priesthood, making them subject to the power of the Emperor and not just faithful to the Buddha. In most of the rest of the Buddhist monastic world, celibacy is still the norm – it was, after all, required by the Buddha – which means that in the eyes of most Buddhist monks and nuns, Zen priests and priestesses are, essentially, lay people unless they live celibate lives. This state of affairs has meant that the disciples of Rev. Master Jiyu feel more comfortable being with monastics of other Buddhist traditions – Chinese, Vietnamese, Theravada, and so on – as opposed to Zen people, who are by and large not bound by vows of celibacy.

I am no exception to this. Every year a group of Western Buddhist monastics has a gathering held at one of the handful of monasteries large enough to accommodate a group of 40 or so monks and nuns: The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, The City of the Dharma Realm, the Vajrapani Institute, Shasta Abbey, and most recently the Deer Park Monastery near San Diego. I try to attend these gatherings if I possibly can, and have made a number of friends within the Buddhist monastic world by doing so. There have been a handful of other Zen practitioners over the years, but they are few and far between. I wish it were otherwise, but meanwhile a question remains for all of us who were Jiyu Kennett’s disciples, namely, to what extent do we wish to have significant contact or dialogue with other Zen organizations and practitioners, if at all?

As some people in the larger Zen community are aware, the monk who succeeded Rev. Master Jiyu as abbot of Shasta Abbey, Eko Little, resigned his post and returned to lay life in 2010. This turn of events was accompanied by some unhappiness over his conduct as abbot which revolved around abuse of power issues. Unlike other well known Zen teachers in America who have become notorious for their sexual misconduct, such as the recently well publicized cases of Joshu Sasaki, the 105 year old Rinzai Zen Master, and Eido Shimano Roshi, Eko did not ever cross the line of actual sexual activity with a disciple, lay or monastic. His undoing did involve crossing the line of what is now being more carefully defined as inappropriate conduct on the part of a teacher in the context of a teacher-student relationship or a master-disciple relationship.

That there is a serious effort being made in the Zen community to establish clear cut guidelines as to what constitutes sexual misconduct and violations of appropriate boundaries in personal relationships is a trend which all of Rev. Master Jiyu’s disciple would applaud. I certainly do. She would have been horrified by the conduct of one of her closest disciples, Eko, had she been alive to witness it. And the community of Shasta Abbey has had enough of a taste of the damage that this kind of thing can cause – even though it was minor league stuff by comparison with what has transpired with several other well known Zen teachers – to want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The spiritual lives of completely trusting, sincere human beings can be thrown into a chaotic mess which is no small thing to sort out. To rebuild the trust necessary to engage in any kind of deeper spiritual practice and training in the wake of these episodes of power abuse and sexual predation is not a simple matter, requiring time, patience and, above all, human love and understanding for the people who have been abused.

As for Jiyu Kennett, there was never any question of sexual misconduct on her part, but depending on who you talk to, some people feel that she did abuse power to some extent. She had a huge, charismatic personality. Hers was a tiger personality: she could roar, swat, pounce, and chew your head off. She could also purr and be a [banned term]-cat in the most generous sense of the term. She wrote a column in the Abbey journal entitled News from the Tiger’s Lair. She was enormously inspirational to many people. In short, she was a very complex human being who had many facets to her personality, and she was always very sure of herself. It has been observed over the course of time that when such a person appears on the face of the earth, and they cultivate a following, usually a fairly substantial one, those people have a rough time of it following the death of the great leader, politician, teacher, Indian chief.

I think the reason for this lies in the magnitude of the great leader’s personality. No one can ever really fill their shoes, because no one with a similar personality would ever end up as the disciple of such a one; the vast majority of those who do, in fact, become followers or disciples of a great leader are people willing to be led, and are not, themselves, much inclined to lead. Of course there are always exceptions, but in this case, as it has happened, the two close disciples of Rev. Master Jiyu, who were handpicked by her to take over the reins of Shasta Abbey and the OBC are both gone. Daizui MacPhillamy, her successor as head of the OBC, died of cancer in 2003; Eko Little, as I mentioned, disrobed in 2010.

I have often thought of myself that I had all normal human ambition pounded out of me as a result of being Rev. Master Jiyu’s disciple for 18 years. It was necessary in that environment to give up ideals and ambitions, and sacrifice yourself to a perceived higher, collective good. There is a certain freedom in doing so because you are relieved of a larger sense of responsibility to look at the bigger picture, decide to undertake something big or far-reaching, or even just to step out on your own. But that, to my mind anyway, is the primary reason why Jiyu Kennett’s disciples are a reclusive group of people. We weren’t taught to be teachers; we were taught to be monks, plain and, hopefully, simple. But needless to say, we are all complex human beings, and one doesn’t need to have a huge personality for that to be so. All it takes, seemingly, is to be a human being alive in the 21st Century.

At this point I don’t know to what extent Jiyu Kennett’s legacy has made a mark on the collective consciousness of Zendom in America. In the late 90s, after her death, I was the guest master at Shasta Abbey for a few years. People would visit the monastery, saying they had studied at the Zen Mountain Monastery with the late John Daido Loori in Upstate New York. I found out later that he had included some of Rev. Master Jiyu’s teachings in the curriculum he developed for the study of Zen. That may have been an isolated case, but whatever the case, from a larger perspective, her legacy is probably as complex as she was. She left behind some visionary, radically different teachings; she created a Buddhist liturgy using Western church music; she founded one of the first Buddhist monasteries outside Asia, with men and women training side by side, and did so by means of sheer willpower and force of personality. And she left behind a substantial group of disciples, predominantly British and American, who live almost entirely under the radar.
Back to top Go down
Stan Giko

avatar

Posts : 353
Join date : 2011-06-08
Location : Lincolnshire. U.K.

PostSubject: Re: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:46 am

I think this piece demonstrates perhaps a new OBC public strategy --
admitting a little bit that Kennett had some flaws or perhaps poorly
communicated. What do people here think?

I think that I`m not at all sure, that RM Seikai is an "OBC public strategy"
spokesman. No reason to think at this point that he wasn`t speaking of other
than his own personal views.
Why would the OBC admitting that "Kennett had some flaws" have to be a
strategy anyway ? It looks perfectly reasonable to me.
Back to top Go down
Kozan
Admin
avatar

Posts : 668
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 67
Location : Sonoma County CA

PostSubject: Re: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:58 pm

Josh, thanks for posting Seikai's article!

Stan, I agree. RM Seikai is quite straightforward about all of this, and has been for some time.

Josh, I don't think that this article is a deliberate strategy on the part of the OBC, although I do think that it signifies an early stage of change.

I suspect that Seikai may simply have felt that the time for the article was right. Part of the "rightness" of the timing, in my own perception and opinion, is the beginning of a still subtle and partial, yet significant shift in collective OBC culture. I see this shift beginning to occur as a result of more open communication, and dialogue, across the sangha.
Back to top Go down
Jcbaran

avatar

Posts : 1614
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 66
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Re: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:27 pm

it may not exactly be a deliberate strategy, but i would think that the OBC leadership would all carefully review this essay before allowing it to be put out there. Would he just do this on his own? Kozan, I think it does show some early stages of change. Perhaps that should be encouraged. Small steps.
Back to top Go down
ddolmar

avatar

Posts : 190
Join date : 2010-08-26
Location : Redding, CA

PostSubject: Re: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   Tue Sep 24, 2013 10:51 pm

"[banned term]-cat"? Lolz, I think I saw that one on icanhascheezburger.com.

"She left behind some visionary, radically different teachings; she created a Buddhist liturgy using Western church music; she founded one of the first Buddhist monasteries outside Asia, with men and women training side by side, and did so by means of sheer willpower and force of personality."

It's a mighty impressive accomplishment. But she also received some very serious financial help from people like Mark Strathern, and indispensable contributions from all of her early followers.

Overall the essay seems a very sincere effort to assess where OBC is from an insider's perspective. It appears that RM Seikai regards some of RM Jiyu's decisions and weaknesses as having negative consequences (her unwillingness to teach laity herself, and her inability or unwillingness to teach her monks how to teach, for examples). And he admits that there's a view out there that she abused her power, and seems to say that this view is valid whether or not he agrees with it.

Good for him. And if the OBC leadership contributed or edited the essay, then good for them, too, for allowing this much to be said.
Back to top Go down
Carol

avatar

Posts : 364
Join date : 2009-11-10

PostSubject: Re: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:15 pm

I agree with all that has been said about Sekei's article.

Here's a big unanswered question: Kennett and the OBC intentionally cultivated an inward-looking, celibate, monastic community. Based on the stories recorded in this Forum, serious harm was done to some of the monks who followed Kennett. 

But lay followers, as Sekei could have said, were also harmed. Trouble comes when inward-looking, celibate monks try to advise lay people with families, jobs, sexual issues, etc. These spiritual advisors aren't  trained (and perhaps aren't suited) to counsel lay people, and -- for me anyway -- this disconnect was sometimes harmful and confusing.

So if the OBC intends to change its orientation outward to reach out more effectively to lay people, what needs to be done? Do monks need to receive training in psychotherapy? Do they need to be trained in basic counseling techniques? Should some monks be allowed to teach lay people and others kept in the closet? What?

I'd be interested in hearing from some of you monks and used-to-be monks about this.
Back to top Go down
Jcbaran

avatar

Posts : 1614
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 66
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Re: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   Wed Sep 25, 2013 5:32 pm

Quick thought on this.  Well, if you still hold onto the narrative that your WAY is the whole shebang, has all the answers, is the only approach needed to end all mental suffering, then you will cause suffering.  The OBC was - at least until relatively recently - caught in a closed time bubble.  So many Buddhist and Zen teachers these days are also therapists, and if not therapists, have studied various forms of therapy and non-violent communication, and fully realize that mindfulness or Zen alone is not "the answer."  But more than taking some courses in cognitive therapy, spiritual teachers have to be more self-aware, have to abandon these false belief systems, otherwise they will just add therapy to a broken system.
Back to top Go down
mstrathern
Admin
avatar

Posts : 602
Join date : 2010-11-14
Age : 73
Location : Bedfordshire, UK

PostSubject: Re: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   Wed Sep 25, 2013 8:37 pm

Carol, Josh - great stuff. Most of these people at best are just meditation teachers, just like someone might be an english teacher or a chemistry teacher. No one would argue that english or chemistry teachers are automatically qualified counselors. Obviously they can give advice as anyone can. But teachers, both of meditation and of chemistry, must not use the psychological transference that often happens with pupils to glorify themselves or in any way to subjugate or harm their pupils. A teacher's charisma can be a dangerous and damaging trap for both the teacher and the taught.
Back to top Go down
chisanmichaelhughes

avatar

Posts : 1638
Join date : 2010-11-17

PostSubject: Re: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:06 am

A mum shows her daughter how to be a mum simply by being a mum,Loving kindness can not be taught,it is crazy to think that meditation teachers have all the answers,it is because they lack so much humanity that they try to control people,we were under pressure to think  in a certain way ,we were not allowed to think for ourselves..Oh dear I going to look for my spray can I think it's buried deep in my shed
Back to top Go down
Isan
Admin
avatar

Posts : 916
Join date : 2010-07-27
Location : California

PostSubject: Re: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:40 am

Carol wrote:
So if the OBC intends to change its orientation outward to reach out more effectively to lay people, what needs to be done? Do monks need to receive training in psychotherapy? Do they need to be trained in basic counseling techniques?
.
I believe the starting point for them will be realizing that they need this kind of help for themselves.
Back to top Go down
Jcbaran

avatar

Posts : 1614
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 66
Location : New York, NY

PostSubject: Re: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:31 am

From a recent episode of the radio program, THIS AMERICAN LIFE.  This is such a terrific weekly program - and free podcast downloads and you can just listen on line.  This particular episode was about getting into college and about half the show - Acts 2 and 3 - is about this fellow Emir.  You can listen to the full episode here:  http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/504/how-i-got-into-college

Here is how this tale was described: Writer Michael Lewis tells the story of a man named Emir Kamenica, whose path to college started with fleeing the war in Bosnia and becoming a refugee in the United States. Then he had a stroke of luck: a student teacher read an essay he’d plagiarized from a book he’d stolen from a library back in Bosnia, and was so impressed that she got him out of a bad high school and into a much better one. He went on to Harvard and great success. Years later, he tracks down the student teacher to thank her, only to find that she remembers the story differently. (34 minutes)  Act 3:  Michael Lewis’ story continues, and he figures out why Emir Kamenica insists on remembering, and telling, the story of his life the way he does — even when he finds out that some of the facts may be wrong. (14 minutes)

Now why am I inserting this here. The program ends with a profound insight about how we get locked into the stories we tell ourselves.  Even holy stories - and how they trap us. The ending words of the episode is on point - and applies to so many personal and institutional situations - way beyond Shasta or Zen.

“These stories we tell about ourselves, they are almost like our infrastructure, like railroads or highways.  We can build them almost anyway we want to, but once they’re in place, this whole inner landscape grows up around them.  So maybe the point here is that you should be careful about how you tell your story or at least conscious of it.  Because once you’ve told it, once you’ve built the highway, it’s very hard to move it, even if your story is about an angel that came out of nowhere and saved your life, even then, not even the angel herself can change it.” 
Back to top Go down
chisanmichaelhughes

avatar

Posts : 1638
Join date : 2010-11-17

PostSubject: Re: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   Fri Sep 27, 2013 9:28 am

Sombody asked me this week if Kennett was a disciple of Kodo Sawaki which she was not,but kennett did tell me that she was sent to see him as people at Sojiji were doubting her.
Did you hear this story as well?
Back to top Go down
mstrathern
Admin
avatar

Posts : 602
Join date : 2010-11-14
Age : 73
Location : Bedfordshire, UK

PostSubject: Re: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   Fri Sep 27, 2013 10:57 am

Yes I remember Jiyu talking about this, at least I think it was about visiting Kodo Sawaki as the 'holiest' of the then Zen teachers to have here kensho ratified by the highest authority. She implied that he did but I got a slight feeling of ambiguity at the time and given his pronounced reluctance to give transmission to his own disciples this would fit. I remember her telling us that he stressed the importance of just sitting, but then said that the benefits of meditation were about the same as a good nights sleep! Rather fits in with his reportedly saying that zen was 'wonderfully useless'. Sounds a bit like one of the better guys.
Back to top Go down
chisanmichaelhughes

avatar

Posts : 1638
Join date : 2010-11-17

PostSubject: Re: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:47 pm

Thanks for that I heard much the same story,that she was sent after transmission as people felt it was not true. I wonder where she went perhaps Antai ji I believe although he was the Abbot thee he traveled around and taught at different temples, He certainly taught at Zuoi ji and I believe the Abbot looked after him towards the end of his life I believe he was involved insome way in the war,but he was highly regarded as a zazen teacher,his next in line Uchiyama wrote a great book Deshimaru was a descendant and was popular in France ,I did meet some of his descendants in Japan
Back to top Go down
chisanmichaelhughes

avatar

Posts : 1638
Join date : 2010-11-17

PostSubject: Re: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   Sat Sep 28, 2013 9:05 am

Carrying on my curiosity, It must have been serious disharmony by the other monks re Kennett for Koho Zenji to even consider sending Kennett to see  Kodo Sawaki. It must have been something other than being a woman as  Kodo Sawaki although he did not transmit many monks he did I believe pass transmission on to 3 nuns,without any loud noises and complaints. i think it is an accepted fact in Japan that the established high ranking or elder figures could alter rules when circumstances varied, I do not think issues were ever raised, It is a rather strange story and assuming it to be true shows that Kennett must have been quite unpopular there
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content




PostSubject: Re: Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?   

Back to top Go down
 
Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?
View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1
 Similar topics
-
» Seikai Luebke's Essay on sweepingzen.com - Why are Kennett's Disciples So reclusive?
» new member: Rev. Seikai
» Insightful Essay: Post-Traditional Buddhism - the Quiet Revolution
» ALl INDIA ESSAY COMPETITION
» Abdul Sattar Edhi - A world popular Social Worker

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
OBC Connect :: OBC Connect :: The Reading Corner-
Jump to: