About the Author
Born in England in 1924, Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett became a Buddhist at an early age, studying Theravada Buddhism. She was later introduced to Rinzai Zen Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki in London, where she held membership in, and lectured at, the London Buddhist Society. She studied at Trinity College of Music, London, and Durham University, and pursued a career as a professional musician before meeting her future master, the Very Reverend Keido Chisan Koho Zenji.
Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett began her priest training in 1962, with her ordination into the Chinese Buddhist Sangha in Malaysia by the Very Reverend Seck Kim Seng, Archbishop of Malacca. She then continued her training in Japan under Koho Zenji, who was then Chief Abbot of Dai Hon Zan Sojiji, one of the two head temples of Soto Zen Buddhism in Japan. In 1963 she received Dharma Transmission from him and was later certified by him as a Roshi (Zen Master). She held several positions during her years in Japan including that of Foreign Guestmaster of Dai Hon Zan Sojiji and Abbess of her own temple in Mie Prefecture.
It had always been Koho Zenji's wish that Soto Zen Buddhism be successfully transmitted to the West by a Westerner. He worked very hard to make it possible for Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett to train in Japan and, after his death, she left Japan in order to carry out this task. In November 1969, Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett came to San Francisco on a lecture tour, and as her following of disciples grew rapidly, the Zen Mission Society was founded and moved to Mount Shasta, where Shasta Abbey was founded in November 1970. The "Zen Mission Society" was reorganized as "The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives" in 1978.
Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett served twenty-six years as Abbess and spiritual director of Shasta Abbey, ordaining and teaching monks and laypeople until her death on November 6, 1996. She founded Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey in England in 1972 and was Head of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, with its two monasteries and its priories and meditation groups in North America and Europe. Her written legacy as a Zen Master includes the books Zen is Eternal Life; How to Grow a Lotus Blossom; The Wild, White Goose; The Book of Life; and The Liturgy of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives for the Laity.
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The Mind of Meditation: Rev. Daishin Morgan
Serene reflection is a method of meditation that can be summarized as 'just sitting'. To just sit still is the simplest of all activities and yet within it we obstruct ourselves with all manner of unnecessary complexities. The essence of serene reflection meditation is to simply be without adding anything or taking anything away. It is based on the fundamental teaching of the Mahayana tradition that the Buddha Nature is the foundation of our being. The Buddha Nature is the source of all compassion, love, and wisdom. It is the place from which real love flows out to all without distinguishing one from another. It is this love we all seek, for the ability to give and receive this love is the ability to know perfection, it is the experience of true peace.
The Buddha Nature is not something that exists inside of us like a soul, nor is it something external and apart from us like a god. It is all of existence for it rejects nothing. Infinite compassion, love, and wisdom are the characteristics by which we recognise it but it also embraces what we regard as negative within ourselves and the world around us. The Buddha Nature is enlightenment itself and since it embraces all of existence it includes us. We are not separate from enlightenment but we have mistaken where our true refuge lies. Instead of trusting the Buddha Nature, that which is in tune with all of existence, we take refuge in an illusory sense of self, a self that is fundamentally at war with all of existence. Serene reflection meditation is the means we have of healing the rift we have created between ourselves and the Buddha Nature. Enlightenment is inherent within every one of us, but to know that enlightenment we have to look towards it for our refuge and cease to involve ourselves with greed, hate, and delusion.
Buddha Nature is the essence of stillness; it appears whenever we neither reject nor hang on to anything. To do serene reflection meditation means that you accept everything that arises in stillness, without judgement and without excuse. You must be still with whatever arises in all its exposed and revealed nature. This is to learn how to see without preconceptions. Meditation is the means we have of coming to know and experience for ourselves that which is true and real. This experience must be direct; that is, it must not take place through filters of past conditioning....