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Buddhadharma : Fall 2012
FALL 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 49 “No No Zero” A famous Zen teacher, Joshu, said that after thirty years of practice, you may start to speak about it. I have had more time than that with this effort, and yet still I am hesitant to talk. One rea- son is there is too much to talk about, too deep, and often the talking doesn’t help with practice. One must disappear in the sitting; that is the only way. With an advanced practitioner, inner rec- ognition may even seem to be a regressed state, or seem absurd—you cannot allow yourself so easily to say “I’m okay.” To say “I am Kobun” is understandable. To say “I am not Kobun”—now I am in trouble! And yet...form is emptiness. No eyes, no nose, no ears, everything chopped down and thrown away. Heart Sutra, Nagarjuna, five hundred years of Buddhist theories, all put under “no.” This “no” is more exactly called “no no zero.” What kind of eye, what kind of mind, can receive this insight of emptiness? The eye that sees the relationship of all dhar- mas, all existences in this relative world, is called igen, wisdom eye. The wisdom eye observes the relationship of all beings, not just your position, but everything related, interrelated, arising, and falling. Whatever comes to the mind, comes to your being, comes to your meditation, is nothing but your portion of this relationship. So what- ever is experienced or observed can become the source of teaching. It is very important to experience the com- plete negation of yourself, which brings you to the other side of nothing. You go to the other side of nothing, and you are held by the hand of the absolute. You recognize yourself as the absolute, so naturally there is no more insistence of a self, of yourself. You cannot even speak of “no-self” within that absolute. Before this, although every- one is there and helping you, you are a closed system. When you flip to the other side of noth- ing, you discover everyone, everything, is waiting for you there. The Breath of the Universe The ideal of sitting is to forget the breath. My feeling is that each breath is an independent thing. Your breath and the breath of the universe are the same. You share the same breath. Sitting and breathing in stillness is like a person who just shot an arrow. A moment later the result will be there, but all you know now is that the arrow is moving all right. It has left your realm, and yet you sense it is running well. Shikantaza means “sitting.” Ta is hit. I hit the floor—that action is ta. Za is sitting, so actu- ally you are pounding the sitting, although the body’s eye may see only someone sitting still on the cushion. Shikan means for itself, nothing but itself or only for itself. You cannot say to some- one else, “Please sit for me,” but sitting for itself causes all of them to sit with you. Although they may be moving in another place, or on another T he name Kobun means “to extend the way,” to extend culture, language, the word, to extend the dharma—fitting for someone bringing Zen to America. His dharma name was Ho-un Kobun. “Ho” means phoenix, firebird, and “un” is mystery, mystical, cloud. We could imagine the image: a bird flying in the clouds, just a wing-tip, a bit of the tail, fleetingly visible for a moment and then not—it’s so fitting from a student’s perspective. He traveled extensively, teaching in many places, always coming and going. He carried the forms elegantly and formlessly. He was often more than inscrutable, certainly not to be captured or contained by any preconception of what a Zen teacher was. Yet in his presence you felt you encountered someone complete. The teachings below are some traces of his flight. —Shoho Michael Newhall PHOTOS(FACINGPAGE)VANJAPALMERS,(THISPAGE)ELLENWHARBURTON (Opposite) Kobun Chino Roshi with his son Alyosha at Felsentor, Switzerland, on July 25, 2005. The following day, he and his daughter Maya drowned at a nearby swimming pond.