chapter  6
THE LOTUS BLOSSOM PERIOD, 1976–83
Pages 38

The next stage of the history of the Zen Mission Society (ZMS) was dominated by developments rooted in a prolonged religious experience that happened to Kennett over a period of around eight months, between June 1976 and January 1977. From the viewpoint of the British congregation, this period of change and instability ended in 1982 when Kennett’s British monks, having trained at Shasta Abbey for five years, returned to resume their training at Throssel Hole. Described as her ‘third kensho’, Kennett’s experience was recorded and published as How to Grow a Lotus Blossom or How a Zen Buddhist Prepares for Death (1977b). Comparatively speaking, it was a highly unusual experience and it led to a series of doctrinal and practical shifts that were not always accepted uncritically by her disciples. In this chapter, I place Kennett’s kensho in a comparative and historical perspective, outline the nature and meaning of her experiences, and comment upon the various developments and innovations resulting from them. Following an examination of the manner in which these innovations were received by her disciples – assimilation or rejection – I outline and comment upon the effectiveness of the various strategies she used for resolving conflict and resistance within her movement.