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.


I have many things to think about and to discuss about how to live a really useful life in this new age. We'd like to look into and welcome the next century.

Dogen Zenji said, "To master the Buddha's way is to master, to clarify, your own self. Through that, you can clarify the own-selves of all others." So he mentioned that the focus is to clarify your own life-and-death matter, birth-and-death matter: living this subject.

The subject is so close, pointing to yourself like this. If you point outside, we can study pretty well, but when you start pointing to yourself it is almost impossible. A fresh eye is opened toward outside, so the same eye cannot be used to see the interior realm of yourselves. We turn around and make our interior world an external object, and analyze what's happening, which is usually called psychology, or religious studies. But that kind of study, with objectified self, is not what we are. So a very important point is to be with the self who rejects analysis of any aspect.

Gary Snyder spoke of this same kind of situation as trying to grab an avocado seed. It slips...you cannot grab it! He got this American version from the famous painting, Chasing the Slippery Catfish with Gourd. Have you seen that picture? A young man, a bushy, hippy-like person, is chasing the catfish with a gourd, which has a very teeny entrance! Impossible to catch that fish! Japanese catfish have huge heads and long, long whiskers, and a tail-part that goes very teeny. The whole body is so gooey and slippery. The teeth very, very sharp, like a saw. The catfish usually lives in the pond. We call it "Master of the Pond." When you try to catch it, this causes an earthquake! Leave it alone! If you seek the truth, this causes an earthquake! That's how, some biographers say, many powerful people appear. When they finish their tasks and pass away, always earthquakes appear. It's not earthquakes, though; it's people's sleeping minds.

Blossoms -- season of blossoms -- not the regular season of blossoms, but off-season blossoms, bloom when such people appear and disappear, and that which is the (earthquake) sensation of people's minds, see that kind of blossom; they are the mind-blossoms of people who appear. We call those blossoms-of-mind "Udumbara." They bloom every 500-year period like that.


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