Reverend Master Jiyu-Kennett (1924-1996)
The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives was founded by Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett to act as the international administrative and support organization for the monastic disciples and lay ministers practicing within the Soto Zen lineage and tradition which she brought from the Far East. The purposes of the Order are to bring together its members and congregations into one harmonious branch of the sangha, to assure to the public that the teachings and practices offered by our priests and lay ministers remain true to the Dharma Transmitted to her, and to establish shared rules of conduct, ethics and governance for the members.
Lineage: Soto Zen; In 1963 she received the Dharma Transmission from Koho Zenji and later was certified by him as Roshi (Zen Master)
Biography: The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives was founded in 1978 by Rev. Master P.T.N.H. Jiyu-Kennett, a Buddhist Master in the Serene Reflection Meditation (Soto Zen) tradition. Born in England in 1924, Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett became a Buddhist in the Theravada tradition. 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, where she was awarded a Fellowship and obtained the degree of Bachelor of Music from Durham University.
Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett began her priest training in 1962, having been ordained into the Chinese Buddhist Sangha in Malaysia by the Very Reverend Seck Kim Seng, Archbishop of Malacca. She then went to Japan at the invitation of the Very Reverend Keido Chisan Koho Zenji, Chief Abbot of Dai Hon Zan Soji-ji, one of the two chief training monasteries of Soto Zen, in order to train there in that tradition. In 1963 she received the Dharma Transmission from Koho Zenji and later was certified by him as Roshi (Zen Master). She also received a First-Kyoshi and a Sei Degree, roughly equivalent to a Master and a Doctor of Divinity in Buddhism. She held several positions during her years in Japan including that of Foreign Guestmaster of Soji-ji and Abbess of her own temple in Mie Prefecture.
It had always been Koho Zenji's sincere 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 his wish. In November 1969, Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett came to San Francisco on a lecture tour. The Zen Mission Society was founded the following year and moved to Mount Shasta for the founding of Shasta Abbey in November of 1970. In 1978 the name "Zen Mission Society" was changed to "The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives."
In addition to being the First Abbess of Shasta Abbey, Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett was an instructor at the University of California and the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, and a lecturer at universities throughout the world. She founded numerous Buddhist temples and meditation groups in Britain, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett died in November of 1996.
In Europe, you can contact our main monastic centre directly by writing or telephoning:
Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey
In North America, you can contact our main monastic center directly by writing or telephoning:
Main Web site: www.obcon.org
In recent years, she edited three new translations of Serene Reflection writings and ceremonies: The Denkoroku or The Record of the Transmission of the Light, Buddhist Writings on Meditation and Daily Practice: The Serene Reflection Meditation Tradition, and The Monastic Office. A collection of her oral teachings, edited by Rev. Daizui MacPhillamy, has been published as Roar of the Tigress, Vol. l. For full descriptions of these books, please see Shasta Abbey Press [ www.buddhistsupplies.com/sabssap.htm ]