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Thread: OBC Soto?

  1. #1

    OBC Soto?

    I've discovered an Order of Buddhist Contemplatives (OBC) sitting group fairly close to me that meets on Monday nights, I might go join them sometime just to say hi and mix it up a little. Is OBC practice "Serene Reflection Meditation" pretty similar to what we do here at Treeleaf?

    http://www.lionsgatebuddhistpriory.ca/N ... hedule.htm

    Skye

  2. #2

    Re: OBC Soto?

    Hi Skye,

    The OBC is Soto Zen, and very respected. It was founded by the late Rev. Jiyu Kennett and is a located primarily in the Western United States & Canada -- where its headquarters is Shasta Abbey -- and in the United Kingdom -- where its headquarters is Throssel Hole Abbey, with many local groups. I do not know about your local group of course.

    You may find two features to their practice rather different from other Zen groups or what I emphasize here:

    First is that Rev. Kennett was very set upon making their practices resemble the Anglican Church. So, for example, their chants sound very much like Gregorian Chants and "evensong" (I think Kevin posted a link once), their facilities often resemble an Anglican-Catholic monastery, and such. Their recent translation of the Shobogenzo reads a bit too close to the "Book of Common Prayer" for my taste (capitalizing each mention of "Buddha" in very reverential tones, just short of "Thee" and "Thou", for example), but to each his own ...

    Second, Rev. Kennett was prone to mystical visions much in the way of Theresa of Avila or Joan of Arc and such. So, their teachings, and her writings, tend to have that kind of flavor sometimes based on what she "saw" in her visions, which could be quite colorful.

    That being said, sitting is just sitting. So, please give them a try.

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3

    Re: OBC Soto?

    Hi Skye

    I go to an OBC group and Throssel Hole Abbey in the UK. Their sitting is just sitting and their chanting the scriptures is just chanting( but to a simple tune). Lynn on here was a shasta for a few years I believe.

    I have found it all to be pretty much in line with Jundo except for the chanting, may be there are some other 'church' elements that have passed me by but I don't find it 'churchified' if I did I'd run a mile :lol: I don't find Throssel churchy either. Although I agree that Rev Master Jiyu Kennet obviously had some leanings in that direction and she did train in music at Durham I believe, a centre of divinity in the UK.

    In my experience the teachings are very much grounded in reality, certainly with the Monks I have had contact with, although I know that some of her own kensho experiences were more visionary. I am just re-reading 'The Wild White Goose' a book based on her dairies from when she went to Japan in the late 50's to be the first western woman to train in a temple. It is a fasinating read with some great teachings in there. I believe 'To grow a lotus blossom' talks about her kensho experiences in more detail but I have not had chance to read it yet.

    Kev

  4. #4
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: OBC Soto?

    Hi Skye

    I've been to Throssel Abbey in the UK too. I thoroughly enjoyed Throssel and will go again if I can. I didn't notice much that is different from Jundo's teaching. Though, of course, that could be me being dense! The only thing that struck me as at all churchy was a paper figure cut out and stuck to the big picture window at one end of the abbey. It looked like an angel to me, and after worrying about it for a bit, I eventually plucked up the courage to ask a monk what it was and why it was there. He laughed and said it was in the shape made by a bird of prey's wings, and it's there to stop other birds flying into the big window and killing themselves.

    I'd encourage anyone to try the OBC.

    Gassho

    Martin

  5. #5

    Re: OBC Soto?

    Thanks for the information! I'll definitely drop by some time and say hi.

    Skye

  6. #6

    Re: OBC Soto?

    OK Jundo, was at the Wesak ceremony today at Throssel and it did get a bit uncomfortably church for me when they started singing what can only be described as hymns about Buddha's enlightenment during the ceremony. The rest was great though.

    Of interest I asked in the book shop about 'To Grow a lotus blossom' by Rev Master Jiyu Kennet which as far as I'm aware is about here kensho experiences and thoughts on them.

    I got an unexpected response. First was 'How do you know about that' , well that was easy she mentioned it all the time in another book that they sell 'The Wild White Goose' . Followed by 'why do you want to read it', which bemussed me, the answer to which was it's mentioned all the time in.....

    It was then followed by 'we don't really sell it any more (but have a copy if you want one) as it doesn't reflect the present views of the order... which left me even ,more intrigued!

    Anyway I didn't get it as she'd have had to go over to another building to fetch what by this time I was feeling in a muddle about and not sure if I wanted to potentially spend a fair bit on a book that the orders monks are not recommending to read :lol: And feeling that if she went out of her way to get it I'd have to either buy it or feel pretty uncomfortable.

    So, again you may be right about her 'visionary' veiws. I'll try and borrow a copy somewhere!

    In gassho, Kev

  7. #7

    Re: OBC Soto?

    It looked like an angel to me, and after worrying about it for a bit, I eventually plucked up the courage to ask a monk what it was and why it was there. He laughed and said it was in the shape made by a bird of prey's wings, and it's there to stop other birds flying into the big window and killing themselves.
    LOL :lol:

  8. #8

    Re: OBC Soto?

    Quote Originally Posted by Longdog
    It was then followed by 'we don't really sell it any more (but have a copy if you want one) as it doesn't reflect the present views of the order... which left me even ,more intrigued!
    Hey Kev!

    Well, it's not really a mystery why it's no longer sold and spoken of overly much. Basically, it created a whole bunch of problems stemming from the fact that people began to develop this idea that they had to somehow duplicate that experience for themselves or they weren't "getting it." A lot of well meaning, overly sincere types started being sure that mystical, magical hallucinations equaled enlightenment. :roll: Not to mention the fact that the teachings she speaks of are just *her interpretations, not necessarily what would be understood and accepted as Buddhist doctrine. Another set of problems stemmed from everyone thinking that they had to have a kensho (whatever that is) or they weren't enlightened. Basically, it's mis-use by those mired in a delusional mindset made it more of a hinderance than a help.

    Really, that was one person's experience of the Divine. But it's EXTREMELY esoteric and therefore not particularly relevant to the experiences of every day living that the other 99.9% of us are working on. Those who are now teaching through the OBC have long ago evolved Rev. Master's teachings into that which can be accessed be us ordinary folk. So, there is great, and greatly needed, caution, hence, they pulled the book and really aren't keen on continuing it's presence in the spotlight.

    I'd suggest Roar of the Tiger...excellent, practical and lovely teachings gleaned from her talks over the years.

    In Gassho~

    Lynn

  9. #9

    Re: OBC Soto?

    Thanks for that Lynn, assumed as much from the guarded reponse of the monk but good to hear it from you. By the prices on the net I couldn't have afforded it anyway :shock:

    Roar of the Tigress is great, yeh, read both . Don't get the idea that I'm some sort of sycophant it's just that I do find her quite inspirational and have so much repect for what the training she had and what she accomplished.

    Anyway with a little help from his mam Beren took part in his first Wesak at 5 months old yesterday, well slept through most of it but woke up in time to add a comment or two to the Dharma talk :lol:

    Anyway better to concentrate on my training instead of being way laid by tales of mysticism.

    In gassho. Kev

  10. #10

    Re: OBC Soto?

    Quote Originally Posted by Longdog
    Roar of the Tigress is great, yeh, read both . Don't get the idea that I'm some sort of sycophant it's just that I do find her quite inspirational and have so much repect for what the training she had and what she accomplished.
    How fun about your little one's first Wesak!! Did he get to pour the water over the baby Buddha? We used to have one little girl, Violet Rose, who came to the Abbey with her mum from day one. By the time I met her she was about 3. She loved the monks! She would carry a scarf with her every time she came and, when it was time to do bows and the monks would unfold their mats she went right up to the front with Rev. Master Eko (the Abbot)and lay out her scarf alongside his mat and do the bows...which usually ended up becoming a somersault! She was utterly delightful!

    I agree absolutely with your above statement!! I had the good fortune to be the proofreader for the monk who put together Vol. 2 of Roar so I got a "sneak peek" at it. Just as wonderful as Vol. 1.

    I, too, just have the utmost respect and offer deep, deep gratitude to Rev. Master Jiyu for everything she did and all she went through to bring the dharma to the West. Many of her older monks would often tell tales of their time with her and so I got the feeling of really getting to "know" her a bit. I listened to hours and hours of taped lectures she gave to the monks and that helped as well.

    Any time one some one started to get into a groove of idolizing Rev. Master Jiyu one of the monks would bring up a story of something she did that drove them either individually or collectively up the wall! She was tough, she was sometimes hard to get on with, she was, in the end, delightfully and fully human. And, if you were falling asleep during her talks she'd stop talking and take out her teeth and start clicking them at you! :lol:

    In Gassho~
    Lynn

  11. #11

    Re: OBC Soto?

    Yeh he wet the Buddha's head with the help of his mam, put the lotus bloom in to and got sprinkled by one of the Monks :lol: Some of the young kids there were very cute and very well behaved considering the very adult setting.

    The image of the clacking teeth just had me in stitches, fantastic :lol:

    In gassho, Kev

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