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Kaizan: Belated Introduction
Posts : 398
Join date : 2010-08-28
Location : Palm Beach Gardens, FL
|Subject: Kaizan: Belated Introduction Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:01 am|| |
First topic message reminder :
My name is Henry and my monastic name was Kaizan. I was ordained in 1976, given the title of Roshi in about 1983, and left the OBC in 1991. I would like to write here the circumstances of my leaving the OBC. The reason for my doing so is to provide a different perspective on the leaving process than the one provided by current monks. Their perspective describes a process that can be difficult, but their perspective is that the difficulty is inherent in the process of leaving something so all encompassing as a monastic profession. Apart from this inherent difficulty, all is portrayed as quite reasonable, a process that perhaps just needs a few tweaks to iron out to make it even smoother than it presently is. It has also been implied that those of us who left the OBC and have concerns about their practices blame Rev. Kennett or the OBC for our suffering. I would like to make it clear that I don’ blame Rev. Kennett or the OBC for my suffering in the sense of my not taking responsibility for my life. I realized the impediment to my health, mental well being, and spiritual development she and the OBC were creating through their actions towards me and took responsibility by leaving the order. There is nothing wrong or unspiritual about seeing the problems other people create for oneself and others, and considering whether remaining in the midst of that is conducive or not to one’s development. It appears to me that denying that others can create suffering for oneself and others is being stuck in the all is one; stuck in the “no one can be harmed in truth so why be concerned.” To that I can only reply with a question: why do monasteries exist if not to create an environment the monks perceive as most conducive to their training? Why does the OBC protect monks from doubt and temptation if no harm can be done? It seems misguided and misleading that on one side monks create a highly controlled environment that protects them from all manner of doubt and temptation that they perceive as harmful, yet when those who leave speak of the harm they perceived within the monastery, we are told that there can be no harm to the true self, so why bring attention to those things. All of a sudden, all harm is just an opportunity to train more deeply. They have forgotten the harm they have so assiduously excluded from their lives. How many times was that “harm” they needed to exclude and protect all monks from was in the form of a monk who left who had some doubts about practices in the monastery they saw as wrong and wanted to speak about it. With that said, I will explain the circumstances of my departure. People can judge for themselves if it was a reasonable process or not and whether I am blaming Rev. Kennett and the OBC for my suffering.
The process of my leaving was centered around my illness. Though for a few years prior to the onset of being ill in 1987 I felt a strong pull to both leave and stay. The pull to leave was that something felt wrong. It seemed there was too much humiliation of others in the name of teaching. No doubt this was a typical teaching device used by Zen in Japan. Still it did not feel right to me. I also was drawn to practice in a more solitary fashion, but Rev. Kennett always asked me to remain in the monastery, so I stayed.
In November of 1987 I was Tenkien, which meant I stayed up all night meditating as guardian of the temple. I also did rounds of the property. At that time, my knees began to hurt and felt I could no longer do this job. In fact it was not just my knees, but the pain started to spread from one part of my body to another over the course of several years. Within 4-5 months, I was pretty much non functional and spending almost all my time in bed. Walking a hundred yards, often just 20 ft., was scary due to the muscle and back spasms that could occur. Sometimes I needed help going to the bathroom. Monks often brought my food to my room. Even sitting up more than 15 minutes was truly an ordeal.
I can’t overstate how kind many of the monks were to me. They took care of my physical needs, kept me company, and gave me untold emotional support. I was and am very grateful to all those monks whose empathy and willingness to help were an incredible gift to me.
There were also some monks in the power structure of the monastery who felt I needed kindness of a sterner sort. At least one thought I was faking and many thought I had a spiritual illness that needed to be treated with meditation. Anything other than this cure would fail. Eko was in this camp and he, more than anyone, except perhaps Rev. Kennett, thought I needed to be dealt with with toughness. I remember a friend walked me up to the dining hall one day so I could get some dinner. By the time I got up there I was shaking and very worried how I was going to make it back to my room. The other monk went into the kitchen to get me some food and Eko very sternly told her she could not do this. There are many stories of this sort I won’t go into here. There were more than enough such incidents that living could be quite scary for me at times.
During those years I felt more and more a pariah. Rev. Kennett, who used to frequently want me over her house, stopped inviting me. It was made clear my presence there was no longer wanted. And let me just say that meditation didn’t cure me. I certainly tried but I just got worse and worse with every passing month. After a few years I decided to try physical therapy and it was then that the most intense crazy making began.
First I requested to go to the Santa Barbara Priory. I made it clear to the prior that I would not really be an active priest at the priory and that the sole purpose of my going down there would be for physical therapy (there was little available in Mt. Shasta). If I could not do it there, my plan was to spend the summer with my mother. The Prior assured me that would be no problem. However, for me to do exactly what I said I was going to do, did turn out to be a problem. What seemed to the prior to be simple, reasonable things to ask of me, were, in fact, neither simple nor reasonable, given the pain level and dysfunction I was suffering. The Prior no longer wanted me there and I was required by him to leave.
I planned to go to my mother’s, but Rev. Kennett, who was at the Berkeley Priory, phoned me and told me she wanted me to come to the Priory there. I told her I absolutely wanted to try physical therapy for the rest of the summer and laid out clearly, in detail, what I wanted to do. If that was a problem I felt I needed to go elsewhere. Rev. Kennett assured me it would be no problem. With misgivings, I went there. The nightmare only got worse. Here are a few incidents to give a flavor of how I was treated: 1. No one was permitted to drive me to physical therapy. I had to take the bus. My physical therapist, who was no wimp, was utterly appalled that someone in my condition was required to take a bus. Though I had no diagnosis at the time she could easily see the degree of my pain and dysfunction and could not believe no one in my religious order was allowed to drive me. God knows what she must have thought of the OBC. 2. One day I went to a doctor who was a member of the congregation and Rev. Kennett’s doctor. I took the bus there and had to lie down on the bus due to the pain. I lost my wallet. I got off the bus and had to lie down on a lawn somewhere. I was in great pain and feared how I could walk the rest of the way to the doctor’s. I somehow made it there and found that Eko was also there. He had taken Rev. Kennett’s car. I was in terrible shape and probably hypoglycemic at the time. I was shaky, dizzy, agitated and desperate for some food. I borrowed money from the doctor (which I quickly repaid). I also got a ride back with Eko. Rev. Kennett was furious that I rode in her car and furious that I borrowed money. She expressed disgust with and anger towards me. 3. Sometime later I overheard a conversation between her and Eko, speaking of me in, let us say, unflattering terms. I came into the room and defended myself and asked why I was not included in discussions and conclusions being arrived at about me. Wasn’t my input of any value? Obviously not. Rev. Kennett spoke to me later in kind terms, telling me of the pressure she was under from “others,” but things remained as they were. Her diverting blame to others felt like an excuse to me, since her behavior towards me didn’t change. It’s hard to describe the degree of hopelessness, helplessness, and humiliation I felt. I also felt I couldn’t count on her following through with what she directly told me. It was crazy making, especially to a person ill and unable to care for themselves. I was told I had to return to the abbey but was able to bargain in a few more weeks of physical therapy, before I was essentially kicked out of the Berkeley Priory also.
I returned to the abbey and I believe I spent one more winter there. After some improvement from the physical therapy, another winter at Shasta worsened my illness terribly. To leave my room felt incredibly threatening. I could have a back spasm and be immobile. I could meet someone who expected me to do something I didn’t feel capable of doing. I felt unbelievable vulnerable, useless, and a burden on everyone. In May of 1991 I was turning 40. I knew my life was over if I didn’t leave the monastery. I decided I had to leave and would ask my family for help. To leave was a fearful thing as I had little money and suffered a degree of disability that I couldn’t work or function on my own. I was also doubtful my family would help.
There was someone at the abbey who had befriended me and sympathized with me in my plight, who told me if my family would not help me, they would leave the monastery and help me just until I got on my feet. I tried to contact my family, but none of them would take me in. They probably feared a permanent invalid on their hands. (As a side note, I would like to say I didn’t ask my mother because for reasons I can’t go into here, I was not able to stay there for an extended time. I don’t want it to look like she refused me). I tried contacting my family again, and failed again to enlist their aide. I wrote a letter to Rev. Kennett, who was at a priory at the time, and told her of the person who offered to help me. I stated that I tried for 3-1/2 years at the abbey and the priories to get better, and had only gotten more ill. I told her no one in my family would take me in. I wrote that I would not take this person up on their offer if it in any way jeopardized their ability to return to the monastery in good standing.
It was then that it really hit the fan. Rev. Kennett wrote back and was furious. She made it clear that I was to have no contact with that other person. (After that I never did initiate contact with that person as I did not want to create any problems for them). I was told I was now a lay person and had to leave the monastery. My priestly vestments were taken from me. (I have been told that no one recalls my being disrobed. I can only ask then, why do I not have my vestments? And why did the following happen?) I received a letter from Daizui (unsolicited) stating that he was unable to do anything to help me, that essentially the sentiment against me had reached a point that he could no longer mitigate it or the consequences stemming from it. Daizui had always helped me and advocated for me. He stuck his neck out on many occasions. He was a great friend who I miss to this day. To get that letter from him, I knew my OBC days were over.
I then contacted my family and told them whether they wanted to help me or not they were stuck with me. I was about to be put out on the street and needed their help. Fortunately they came to the rescue. I also had previously made an appointment at Scripps Clinic in La Joya, which was for a week or less in the future from that time. My father was on vacation in Europe and my family lived in Florida. I wanted to postpone the appointment in La Joya until my father could take me there, as everyone in the OBC was given clear instruction they could not drive me. I was told the appointment could not be postponed and my father would have to cut his vacation short to come and get me to bring me to the appointment himself. Fortunately he did just that.
After almost 4 years without a diagnosis, Scripps diagnosed fibromyalgia within an hour, though I spent almost a week there in total. While at the hotel in La Joya next to Scripps, Rev. Kennett called and told me I was always welcome at the abbey and she wanted me to return after my stay at Scripps. She said that I could follow whatever protocol Scripps recommended, while at the abbey or a priory. My father asked me to return to Florida with him and he’d get me an apartment and into a rehabilitation hospital, which Scripps had recommended. I chose the latter. I could no longer trust that what Rev. Kennett said would be what she did.
For those curious, this is what occurred afterwards. My doctor told me I should wait 3 months before going into a rehabilitation hospital. He prescribed medication and told me to go in a pool everyday and move around as best I could to get my muscles working again. He also wanted the medication to start to work. I then entered the hospital and found being surrounded by severely injured people who accepted me as one of their own was of great benefit to me. No one questioned the reality of what was happening to me. I could get down to the hard and painful work of regaining my functioning. After I left the hospital, I eventually I got my bachelor’s degree in Social Work, then my master’s, and then became licensed as a therapist. It took me 10 years from the time I departed the OBC in 1991, until I could work full time, which I’ve had the great good fortune to be able to continue to do to the present. I also have the great good fortune to be happily married to a loving wife and have a job I love as a family therapist.
I am not writing this for an apology. I wrote to Daizui many years ago, when he was head of the OBC. He apologized for all that happened. As he was head of the order, I took the apology as being in his official capacity. As a friend, he had nothing to apologize for. I asked him to please find out why I was kicked out of the monastery, two priories, and the priesthood. As for the latter, there was no record of that. My best guess is that Rev. Kennett exploded, had someone tell me I was no longer a priest, made sure I was kicked out, and when she calmed down, just reversed that decision like it never happened. Crazy making. Like I said, that is my best guess. No one has ever been able to give an explanation. As for the other incidents, Daizui wrote me stating that he asked all concerned and no one was able to say I did anything wrong. I asked him if there may have been a number of small things I did wrong that amounted to something they felt I should be removed from their priories for. He wrote that no one could come up with even a small thing I had done wrong. The Berkeley Prior, if I remember correctly, felt that Rev. Kennett was in charge at that time and he had little say in the matter.
So why am I writing this? I can’t say I’m sure. I have not shared this full story with many people. But with this forum, and the concerns written by others, I thought my story might help those who are confused clarify what happened to them. There are also some former monks and present lay people who are confused why there is so much concern over things that have happened at the OBC. Is it a perception problem? Are people just looking for someone to blame for their suffering? Have they not progressed enough to know that there is no self, therefore no one that can truly be hurt? I have seen wisdom and goodness in the OBC, what are these people talking about?
Perhaps my story will clarify some of those questions for some of you. Because I was so ill, what occurred to me will perhaps be more obviously misguided than what has happened to others. My vulnerability came from a physical illness, but there were many equally or more vulnerable through having a fragile psychological disposition. There are also those that who invested so much of their blood, sweat, love, faith, and tears at the abbey, that leaving, even when these practices became more prevalent, was traumatic in itself. Though what happened to them might be less obviously wrong, it is my belief that the same dysfunctional dynamic that was so distressing and painful to me, was no less so to them.
I am looking to blame no one. I made my decision to go the abbey. I made my decision to remain past the time my inner urges were pushing me to leave. And eventually I made my decision to leave and not return. If the vestiges of the practices I described have been purged from the OBC, I, for one, am glad this has occurred. But what I’ve seen on this site, is that no active OBC member has really tackled or addressed these practices head on. Everything is made reasonable. It appears to me that the argument put forth is that if one meditates deeply, if one commits oneself deeply to practice, there is no need to address these issues, that all is resolved in the unborn. However, I for one don’t believe that meditating and deep practice, and addressing these issues are mutually exclusive.
If anyone would either like to discuss this point, or discuss the point of view you have on the events I described, I am open to your perspective. I would especially like to engage in a constructive conversation with current monks. Hopefully, monks in addition to Seikai would find some of the issues here worthy of discussion.
Posts : 398
Join date : 2010-08-28
|Subject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:07 pm|| |
You are probably unaware that you broke a cardinal rule of this site, which is that if you allude to the possibility of writing of your experiences, then you are required to do so. This rule, oath actually, was signed by all with their own blood.
To make a long story short, I'm hoping you will write about concrete experiences you had or things you witnessed that brought you to conclude that Rev. Kennett's methods were just plain abusive. I ask this because much of what is written on this site is in the abstact. I believe concrete experiences, especially for those who have not witnessed or experienced such things directly, can make more real things that are discussed in the abstract.
Posts : 1620
Join date : 2010-11-13
|Subject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction Sun Nov 21, 2010 5:00 pm|| |
OK, happy to share more stories - with very specific examples - as time goes on and as I post more.
Posts : 1640
Join date : 2010-11-17
|Subject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:20 am|| |
Henry,I read this an hour or so ago ,and would liked to have writen straight away as a sign of togetherness, comraderie,but thought I would simmer down a bit.
A catholic reigious friend of mine taught me about ' righteous indignation' regarding Kennett, and Eko Shasta. I hope our friend Mokuan reads this and see if righteousness indignation helps his working out of things.
It appears tha Jiyu who experienced so much intolerance in Japan,comes out of so many stories as being so intolerant. There is a very clear point also for continuly stating that this and other negativities were passed down the teaching line to Eko. I did not realise all this until reading this forum.The nonsense did not stop in 76 in got ingrained.
There is something quite ridiculous,about the use of the word acceptance as a spiritual quality here. And real acceptance as tought by Jiyu You know, accept your thoughts in zazen, but you must accept my clay feet, but actually I have a little bit of difficulty accepting other people and the things that really matter.
I will have to go for another walk on the cliff have a long talk with the seagulls, and get ready for an arm wrestle with you, i prefer that to reading this, even though you cheat, I will see you later my friend
Posts : 398
Join date : 2010-08-28
|Subject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:14 am|| |
Who told you that I cheat? Every one who asked, I gave their money back if they promised not to tell. They have betrayed me and caused disharmony in my sangha!!
I will speak more of illness and the OBC in the other thread.
Posts : 1640
Join date : 2010-11-17
|Subject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:19 am|| |
Posts : 398
Join date : 2010-08-28
Location : Palm Beach Gardens, FL
|Subject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:20 am|| |
You asked of my thoughts on the role of compassion in Buddhism. Further up this thread I discuss the importance of emotional intelligence, along with spiritual intelligence. I have a number of other posts on the same subject scattered around this site. If you're interested, you can click on "Henry" by any picture of mine to go to my profile. You then click on Statistics and then you can click on "view all posts by Henry." That will make it easier to find my posts on emotional intelligence.
|Subject: Re: Kaizan: Belated Introduction || |
Kaizan: Belated Introduction