Ji Ko Ji Jikoji Retreat Center, 12100 Skyline Blvd, Los Gatos, CA 95033, phone: (408) 741-9562

Highlights from Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi's Talks

These teachings by Kobun Chino Roshi previously appeared in newsletters of Jikoji Zen Retreat Center in Los Gatos, California, and also were published in the Buddhadharma magazine, Winter 2002 issue.

Who Is Your Teacher?

The real purpose of practice is to discover the wisdom which you have always been keeping with you. To discover yourself is to discover wisdom; without discovering yourself you can never communicate with anybody. In everyday life, we can pick up some glimpse of wisdom, as the polished tool of the carpenter expresses that there is wisdom in the arm of the carpenter. It is invisible; you cannot draw it and show it.

Wisdom doesn't come from anywhere; it is always there as the exact contents of awakening; it is always there and everywhere. What you can do is to uncover it, like going to the origin of a river. Have you been to the source of a river? It is a very mystic place. You get dizzy when you stay for a while. An especially big river has several sources, and the real source, the farthest point which turns to the major stream, is moist and misty, with some kind of ancient smell, and you feel cold. You feel, "This isn't the place to go in." There is no springing water, so you don't know where the source is. Actually, such a place exists in everyone; the center of us is like that. From this place, the ancient call appears, "Why don't you know me? Living so many years with me, why can't you call my real name?"

Unfortunately, we cannot travel into such place with this body and mind, but we feel there is such an origin, and from there everything starts. From that place you have come, actually, and whatever you do is returning to that spot. In one lifetime you can meet with other people, at least one other beside yourself. So, in other words, two of you discover. This is why you are continuing to live so hard.

The way to discover your origin is to listen to the one with whom you feel, "This is it!" It looks like you can do it by yourself, without others, but actually, by yourself alone you cannot discover that origin. Reaching that point, you never believe, "This is it." But pointing to another's origin directly and saying, "That's my origin," at that moment another finger appears, pointing at you, and says, "No, that's my origin." And you get dizzy. "Wait a minute, are you my teacher or are you my student?" And both say, "No, it doesn't matter. I can be your student; I'll be an ancient Buddha for you." The student says this to the teacher. Without throwing your whole life and body into others you can never reach to your own true nature.

The more your understanding of life becomes clearer, and more exact, and painfully joyful, the more you feel, "I'm so bad." The one who appears and says, "No, you are not bad at all, that is the way to go," that is your teacher. Don't misunderstand -- this teacher is not always a person. It can embrace you like morning dew in a field, and you get a strange feeling, "Oh, this is it, my teacher is this field."

How to go with your true self is to deeply bow to yourself and ask, "Please, let me know about myself." Because we cannot do it alone, we have to do it with someone who is able to accept our vow. Letting such an occasion occur is what supreme awakening is. It is not your creation. You just admire the place where you are and be with it, and that place is the place to meet with your teacher. It doesn't need to be some special kind of place. When you are a little bit mindful about yourself you can create such an opportunity between your children and yourself, between your parents and yourself.


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