Kobun Chino

‘When you meet a new person, you say, “Tell me about yourself,” and they say, “My name is so-and-so, my personal history is so-and-so.” You can also ask the same question about yourself. We have been taught various objective truths, but they are actually just suppositions: “Maybe I am a man,” “Maybe I am a woman,” “Maybe this, in the United Stated, is the best way of life.” Even when our comparative, conceptual knowledge piles up and is analyzed, there is still “maybe.” This attempt to understand, become conscious of the self, is objective self, which does not exist. Alas! The life we live is not necessarily what we have studied or discussed. This conceptual, knowledge-based self is nothing but a game of created self-consciousness, an image of ignorance, so to speak. Life has to be freed and lived, instead of being known. Knowing never satisfies, although knowing is one of our major intellectual functions. It’s as if you say, “Oh, I got it,” and then go to sleep.’ (Embracing Mind)

Reaching the end of the Lotus Sutra, I looked at my bookshelves and worried that there was nothing I felt moved to read, having got through so many books on my commutes this past fifteen months. When I went to Zen Center to teach on Thursday, I stopped at the bookstore and picked up the newish book on Kobun Chino, which was co-edited by my dharma friend Joseph Hall, and which I have been wanting to read – and was very glad I did.
I never met Kobun, who died tragically just a couple of years after I started practising, but the way I have heard him spoken of over the years, which Joseph encapsulates wonderfully in his introduction, make me feel I would be especially glad to meet him now, since my life has become unmoored from residential practice, and often looks entirely formless; he seems to have specialised in teaching in different environments, from Tassajara to Jikoji to other parts of the world, being true to the teaching no matter where he was – something to aspire to.

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