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 Introduction

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John Adams



Posts : 7
Join date : 2010-10-01

PostSubject: Introduction   Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:32 pm

Hi, my name is John Adams, I’m a member of the Teesside meditation group in the North East of England, affiliated to Throssel Hole Abbey.

I’ve been coming to Throssel since 1973. I stayed for a year in ‘74/75, the last 6 months as a postulant. (If you read this Jimyo – hi, glad to hear you are well). At the end of that time I left, deciding that the commitment to becoming a monk, for the rest of my life as I saw it, was a bit more (actually a lot more) than I felt able to do. It’s been interesting to read the posts of the former monks. For various reasons, monastic life isn’t necessarily forever, but when faced with the decision, I think most of us believed that that is what it meant. When I think of the decision now, it isn’t just about whether you can live in a monastery, but also whether you can keep going with this ordinary daily practice when nothing much seems to happen and you don’t seem to get much in the way of tangible results from it. And as for how do you keep going without much sign of success? - after a while I don’t think you really have a viable alternative choice – something within can’t be successfully ignored and leads you on whatever the landscape, whatever you feel like, and thank God it does.

Anyway, the reason I came on the site and am making this post is to say thanks to all the monks, past and present, still in the Order or not, for the example of their training and the encouragement, whether they knew it or not, that has given me over the years. I read the stories of splits and hurts, some from a long time ago and others more recent, and it is sad to hear them. I love Throssel Hole, and without all the effort the American monks who came over from Shasta made after Daiji left, I don’t see how it would have survived. Jisho, Hogetsu, Koshin, Teigan, Rokuzan, Isan, Ando, Kinzan, (Kyogen?) – my apologies if I have left anyone out. I want to thank Daiji too and Rev Master Jiyu and of course Rev Master Daishin who has been Abbot for nearly 30 years.

I wasn’t involved in any of the partings of the way, have never experienced any unkind or unfair treatment in 37 years of coming to Throssel. When I read the thoughtful posts of the former monks and knowing some of the present monks, their good hearts, I find it hard to understand why real reconciliation, mutual embracing of old hurts, seems not to have been completely possible so far. I hope this doesn’t sound too wet, but you/we are all of the same extended family. I hope we don’t leave it until we die, it seems to me as a layman and admittedly not privy to all the details, that it would be wrong and such a waste.

For anyone who comes on this site and reads some of the heartfelt and painful postings, as well as the more positive ones, please don’t think it is, or has to be, all either one way or the other. As something which was and is, run, maintained, cultivated, by ordinary human beings, who are nevertheless truly trying to do their best most of the time, it contains both. Since we are the ones coming to it, practicing it, how could it not.

It is my belief/experience that places like Throssel are rare. There are more of them now than there was in the 70’s, but still not many. If you feel drawn to practice, try it for yourself, take account of what other people say but make your own mind up on the basis of your own experience, not that of others.

When I first visited the Priory as it was then, a very kind monk called Jitsudo looked after the visitors. His instructions for practice were to sit still, pay attention, take the Precepts as your guide. Over the years whilst quietly struggling on with my own practice, I have been aware at some distance of various apparent splits and fallings out within the monks. I haven’t really understood the reasons behind them as I haven’t had the details. (The posts from former monks have made some things clearer). Most seem to have taken place in America, far away from me. There have also been some changes of emphasis in the Journal articles, which seemed for a time to have a more, almost Christian feel to them, which I was not comfortable with (apologies to any Christians). I groaned when the Order was made celibate, which forced married monks to choose between divorce and leaving the Order – that just seemed much too hard. When some monks I trusted have left and others I trusted have stayed, that has at times created uncertainty in me – what should I do? Is it still ok? Can this practice, in this place, still be trusted and relied on?

The monks I mentioned above who looked after Throssel, some are still monks, others have left. Whether they stayed or left, when I met them they always taught the same basic practice as I was taught on my first day – sit still, pay attention, take the Precepts as your guide. Reading their posts, those who left, in whatever circumstances, are still teaching/practicing the same thing, as are those present monks I meet now. The personnel may have changed and some of the forms, and there has been some painful and confusing times along the way, but the foundation of basic practice remains as it always has. I take real comfort in that in my life and must leave the rest to others, wishing them/us all well. (I hope that doesn’t sound too simplistic or quietistic but some things I can do nothing directly about).


Best wishes in your practice to you all, whatever form that takes.



John Adams






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Howard

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Posts : 554
Join date : 2010-06-27
Age : 63
Location : Vancouver

PostSubject: Re: Introduction   Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:29 am

Hello John
It was a long time ago and my memory is fuzzy but my first stay involved being picked up in town by a monk call Jitsido. He stopped his pick up truck, rolled down the window and asked me if the cat was under the car.
After reading way too many zen stories I completely froze at being given a Koan within the first 5 seconds of meeting him and at the side of the road.
He just laughed.
Of course he had just seen a cat run by.... or maybe he asked all the newbies the same thing, but I wonder if his last name was Baron?
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Jimyo

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Posts : 172
Join date : 2010-09-24
Age : 69
Location : Peak District, England

PostSubject: Re: Introduction   Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:09 pm

Hi John,
I lurk on here now and then still, and I remember you, and it's good to hear from you. What you say makes sense to me, if not to anyone else. Some day, when I have more time and energy, I may come back on here and write more.
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Watson
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Posts : 37
Join date : 2010-08-24

PostSubject: Re: Introduction   Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:35 pm

Hello John,

Welcome to the forum.

Kindest regards,
Watson
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mokuan



Posts : 265
Join date : 2010-08-29
Location : West Linn, Oregon

PostSubject: Re: Introduction   Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:03 pm

Before you go Jimyo, I just want to say hi.

I read your post a while back about an incident involving you, the cloister, and a monk MPJ. Hmmm, I was an MPJ, and I vaguely remember an incident similar to what you're talking about.

I say "vaguely" because when I think of you, I only remember the time I came to you asking when the gift shop would be open next. You had the keys and could only open the shop outside of regular hours in an emergency. It was sesshin. It was late in the evening, and I broke silence to tell you how badly my back was hurting. You said if needing a new zafu wasn't an emergency, you didn't know what was and you opened the shop.

Thank you. I still have that zafu. And that's how I remember you.

mokuan
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Jimyo

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Posts : 172
Join date : 2010-09-24
Age : 69
Location : Peak District, England

PostSubject: Re: Introduction   Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:58 am

Hi Mokuan,

I'm too nosy not to come back when I get an email notification that someone's responded to my post!

Hi, and it's good to hear from you. Yes, you were that MPJ, and the incident I mentioned has bothered me at times ever since...I still remember the hurt expression on your face. Yet, I don't remember the new zafu incident you're talking about, not at all. Isn't it fascinating how selective memory can be?

So, I'm sorry again that I yelled at you, and thank you for reminding me that at least once I did something good. And perhaps that says a lot about....most of us.

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John Adams



Posts : 7
Join date : 2010-10-01

PostSubject: Re: Introduction   Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:04 am

Hi Howard,

Thanks for the hello. If you remember Jitsudo then you are old-timer too. His name was Jitsudo Baran. His kindness, patience, willingness to take seriously my stumbling attempts at asking questions, was largely what convinced me at the end of the week that maybe there was something worth trying in this Soto Zen. When it eventually filtered through to me that he had left, that was one of the first times I thought oh dear, what's going on? If you are in Vancouver do you go to Rev Meiten's group? If you do please say hi to her from me.

Regards

John
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John Adams



Posts : 7
Join date : 2010-10-01

PostSubject: Re: Introduction   Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:10 am

Hi Jimyo,

Thanks for replying. I agree that sitting is a habit, just like brushing your teeth.

Best wishes,

John
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John Adams



Posts : 7
Join date : 2010-10-01

PostSubject: Re: Introduction   Mon Oct 25, 2010 6:14 am

Hi Watson,

Thanks for the welcome to the forum. It's been an eye-opener. Some posts have made me wince but hopefully some positive movements may well come out of it.

Kind regards,

John
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Kropotkin



Posts : 4
Join date : 2010-10-25

PostSubject: Might be Josh Baran?   Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:19 pm

I think Jitsudo Baran might be the Josh Baran who occasionally writes for Tricycle and has published some Buddhist self help books
http://www.tricycle.com/reviews/everyday-nirvana
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mokuan



Posts : 265
Join date : 2010-08-29
Location : West Linn, Oregon

PostSubject: Re: Introduction   Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:16 pm

Yes, Jitsudo and Josh are one in the same. He was the reason I first went to the Abbey way back in 1977!
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Anne

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Posts : 408
Join date : 2010-07-28
Location : Dorset, UK

PostSubject: Re: Introduction   Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:25 am

:-) Hello, John

We were fellow postulants for a time at Throssel (I left in summer '75).

Excellent article you wrote, some years back, for the Journal: I've kept Giving Training a Try for people whom it might inspire ~ I hope you don't mind?

All best wishes to you
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John Adams



Posts : 7
Join date : 2010-10-01

PostSubject: Re: Introduction   Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:03 pm

Hi Anne,

I remember you well and I'm glad to see you are alive and well too. I've thought about you, Paddy, Chris, Jitsuyu, even Gus, over the years and wondered how you all were.

I also wondered if you were the same Anne when I saw the posts on this site. I have to say I only just about kept up with your post on Supramundane/Correlations - very scholarly. My own practice has been very much the garden shed variety.

Thanks for the kind words about the article - of course I don't mind, if it's of any use to others then use it as you will.

Best wishes,

John
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Jimyo

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Posts : 172
Join date : 2010-09-24
Age : 69
Location : Peak District, England

PostSubject: Re: Introduction   Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:05 pm

Jitsuyu (or Caroline)...wow! I'd forgotten about her. She was the first person to ever tell me about Throssel. Anyone know what happened to her, or where she is now?
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