REVEREND MASTER JIYU-KENNETT
Shasta Abbey owes its existence to the late Reverend Master Jiyu-Kennett, founder of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, who established the Abbey in 1970 and was Abbess from the Abbey’s beginning until her death in 1996.
She was born in St. Leonards-on-Sea, near Hastings, Sussex, England, on New Year’s Day, 1924. She 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, 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 by the Very Reverend Seck Kim Seng, Archbishop of Malacca, into the Chinese Buddhist Sangha of Malaysia. (Cheng Hoon Teng, the temple of Rev. Master Jiyu’s ordination Master, Venerable Seck Kim Seng, is our “sister temple” in Malaysia.)
She then continued her training in Japan under Koho Zenji, who was then Chief Abbot of Dai Hon Zan Soji-ji, one of the two head temples of Soto Zen Buddhism in Japan. Rev. Keido Chisan Koho Zenji was born on August 16, 1879, in Toyama Prefecture, Japan. He was ordained as a Buddhist trainee by Koho Hakugun of Eiko-ji Temple, Ishikawa Prefecture in 1892, and received the Dharma Transmission from him in 1901. He served in many important roles in the Soto Zen world, including the post of Abbot of Saijo-ji Temple, which was quickly followed by promotion to Chief Abbot of Daihonzan Soji-ji and Archbishop of the Kanto Plains. Rev. Jiyu-Kennett became his personal disciple in 1962, after he invited her to come to Japan to study with him. She received the Dharma Transmission from him on May 28, 1963, and later received a Sei degree (roughly equivalent to a Doctor of Divinity) from Daihonzan Soji-ji. She held several positions during her years in Japan including that of Foreign Guestmaster of Dai Hon Zan 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 this task. In November 1969, Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett came to San Francisco on a lecture tour and stayed to establish Shasta Abbey in November of 1970. Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett served twenty-six years as Abbess and spiritual director of Shasta Abbey, ordaining and teaching monks and lay people. She founded Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey in England in 1972 and was Head of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives with its numerous priories and meditation groups in North America and Europe. She died on November 6, 1996. Her legacy includes publications, audio talks and liturgy and ceremonial.
Rev. Master Jiyu’s Life of Faith Dharma Talk by Rev. Master Meian Elbert
Roaring Tigress Invocation 3 min 3MB
Cheng Hoon Teng Video Cheng Hoon Teng, the temple of Rev. Master Jiyu’s ordination Master, Venerable Seck Kim Seng, is our “sister temple” in Malaysia. This video is a history of Cheng Hoon Teng produced by the Temple’s Board of Directors.