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Quotes, taken out of context, from

Kobun's Talks, During Rohatsu

from a forthcoming book
of Kobun's Talks During Sesshins
edited by Judy Cosgrove


See the Sesshins Info page for more information about sesshins.

Section III: Rohatsu Sesshin - Assembly on the Enlightenment of the Buddha

Chapter One: Sitting Practice: ... "Not to feel that the importance of your life is as important as the historical Buddha, that is a conceit ... The most important thing is not zazen, but the person doing it ... Also, mind sits when life sits, so you observe it as it is. Do not be caught by valuing or evaluating."

Silence ... Persons are all carrying a concentrated, invisible force. When people gather, these different kinds of vibrations come close and merge.

Kinhin ... and maybe the last step will be toward where you sat, toward where you really can be

Facing the Wall ... face the wall to forget this small self and forgetting the self the whole universe appears.

Posture ... Your physical posture, year after year, becomes polished, and with repeated sitting, muscles become very refined ... Your muscles become very balanced so you are able to feel that almost nothing is there ... The way to find your right posture is to focus your attention on your inner feeling ... Obviously, perfect posture is not the aim. More important is continuous effort and alertness.

Chapter Two: Problems, Pain ... You have to drop all conceptions about yourself

Problems ... I feel I am so bad! ... It is ceaseless self-clinging.

Pain ... Then you discover there is incredible pain in there. Not being able to get out of it causes lots of pain again. ... It seems that zazen, sitting in a cross-legged position, unmovable, is prepared for us to feel pain. ... One important thing is to stretch your spine, not building it up from the tail bone, but you stretch by the muscle of your neck. At the same time your chest is opened up, not sunken. ... The problem is not because of the pain in your body. The pain in the undissolved suffering in your mind remains undissolved, and yet that is what you've got. ... The nervous system is like a perfect message ... "

Chapter Three: Dogen's Teaching ... the receiving mind in the silent space/time is a great treasure, because we know mind is not just staying inside of this body. It goes everywhere. ... if you touch the core of the whole thing, you can start to study from there. How you are is the basic point, and how you can be in the future is all up to you, not up to me. ... Dogen believed that the most precious jewel mankind has discovered is the opportunity to do zazen

Dogen's Advice for Sitting ... you give up self-notion, human agency, and thinking.

Chapter Four (A): Body, Mind, and Breath Sit ... The stillness of the physical position becomes a standard to measure things from, in a kind of creative process of understanding.

Mind Sits ... you open all doors and entrances of this storage room and let the sunlight in. ... It shines into the dark corners and puts things in order. Sitting is like that. ... We are always in the present, but we need to really observe what the present is, and how the past has been, to know how the future can be. ... When sesshin gets so intense, on the third or fourth day, sleep becomes so shallow and short, you can call it a "heated up" state. ...

Breath Sits ... Let your mind ride on good breathing, smooth, deep, even breathing, coming in and going out, which keeps you from slipping out of the present moment.

Chapter Four (B): Different Practices

Contemplation ... many contemplative practices: Moonlight sitting, sunlight sitting, snow sitting, rain sitting ..

Vipassana and Shamatha ... in alaya vijnana, you have no words to say "I and thou, I and you, I and that," or "they, he or she." ... in deep shamatha, balanced, still, ready to receive, or act

Koans ... The religious spirit of each person, no matter what tradition you have come from, will carry you through this time of questioning

Soto Zen ... you cannot call this "Zen" or "Buddhism.

Shikantaza ... Utter trust in your sitting appears as the continuous effort of keeping the finest posture you can make. ... Unstained. Shikantaza isn't the name of a religion, but it is a very religious way to live.

Chapter Five: Where, When, to do Zazen ... When you sit, you set aside the idea of you, yourself, as sitting. ... I find myself sitting very often for short times, all alone. ... To tell the truth, everyone sits alone. ... The important point is, when sitting takes place in life, often it is very short. ... It should be natural, not ritualized.

You have to start from the very inside of you. ... something is burning inside you which carries you around. You cannot think too much about sitting and what it is. Just do it.

Chapter Six: Forgetting the Self ... your personal existence is not sitting, but is included in sitting ... Facing the wall means to shoulder the world and forget yourself. ... Each of us discovers our best way. ... you let yourself be free to see yourself among ..."No-self" is not a doctrine, it simply describes how things are. all things ...

Sambogha Samadhi ... Something is going on, and that something has clearly achieved itself as what it is. ... You return and melt into it when you sit.

Competition and Compassion ... The Godhead, God, and yourself is one piece of existence. ... keep every moment as a treasure to do something with it.

Chapter Seven: Thoughts on Kensho, Faith, Life and Death

You relive, over and over again, something that sank into your subconscious, and is newly revealed in sitting. At work, or at home, you experience it again and again. It's like taking hundreds of photographs in your body. Each of these points of awareness is like a shutter opening and closing. You take the picture and it sinks into your subconscious feelings. Maybe one or two shots are especially impressive to you, sometimes fearful, sometimes joyful. It is like undeveloped film in your closet. When we come to sesshin and sit many times a day, all those are developed. The relationships of these perceptions become clear. We call this pratitya samutpada, "co-depending origination." You see the relationship of all things, from past to future, from high to low. You are able to look at things in all directions, in different dimensions. And your existence is part of it, your own perseverance is part of it. During sitting time this truth of how things are existing and how you are existing as a person in this world is revealed more and more clearly to you. If you push against the movement, the direction of how things are existing, you have pain. If you flow with the movement, you feel freedom.

Our Faith ... You see the law of all existence, the truth of all existences, as they are, as they are able to exist. That is what Dharma is. ...

Life and Death ... while we don't call it "life and death" each breath is new, and each breath is separate. ... You don't know if your life is eternal, or even shorter than a moment. The length doesn't matter, but the quality of it, how you experience it, is the point. ... If you wish to live longer, you will, because you have something to do...

Does God exist? ... Whether we can deal with our reality accurately, immediately, properly, that is the very immediate subject. ... From mythological times, we have believed God existed. (The last quote, about God, was in reference to Japanese culture.)...



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