1. Thursday, October 19, 1972

KOBUN: .... clothes is very religious thing, a social need. Hair, a little different.

STUDENT: It seems for a woman to shave her head is such an extreme measure. For a man to have his head shaved, it seems the practice is not so unusual; he doesn't set himself apart quite so much.

KOBUN: For a woman to cut her hair means that from this direction she changes to this direction. Kind of a big change is symbolized in that way. The important thing is to take care of it ... more inside that counts, not outside.... Like when people grow nail... when you grow it in very natural way it start to curl. Naturally you have to polish it. When people have job their nails will be broken and the nail will become shorter. To follow nature is to take care of it. When it grows out before you feel it is long, this is danger. Before you feel this is a problem, you cut it. In many cases hair and nails cause a problem. I have had a strong experience about that. In university I was living with my elder brother and we had quite a tight economy. I was cooking one week. Both of us had our hair a little bit long. Almost empty, the purse I had to carry. When I went shopping for some necessities, I bought some hair oil. I came back home and my elder brother said, “Do we need that?” I said, “Sorry, I'll take it back.” After that day, both of us cut our hair.

It is a really symbolic thing. People ask the same of these clothes (indicating his priest's robe). “Eternally abstain from worldly desire,” this is a symbol of that. Shaving the head is a sign of humility.

STUDENT: I see your uniform as an aid to keep you on the track you have chosen to follow.

STUDENT: Is that right?

KOBUN: It is, but it wasn't my choice. I don't particularly like it. Before I was aware of it I was in the robe. There are some very strong words about this. "Shaved head and black robe doesn't always mean monk.” For me, that teaching is most strong. It is important what is inside – inside of the clothes, underneath the hair, underneath the skin.

STUDENT: I heard you say you were not a monk. Did I misunderstand you?

KOBUN: You did not misunderstand.

STUDENT: So you are saying you are not really apart from us.

KOBUN: My feeling is, this robe is this robe and inside this robe is inside this robe. Outside of this robe is outside of this robe.

STUDENT: To renounce worldly desires, does that mean to give up marriage and children and all that? I don't understand it. To me it creates such a conflict between one part of myself and another part of myself. That symbolizes sort of unbearable conflict. A part of myself has shaved my hair, and another part of myself could not bear to do it.

KOBUN: That is a very honest explanation.... A very interesting point is that our body cannot be controlled by anybody, or by ourself too ....

« back to preview