12. Thursday, April 19, 1973

STUDENT: I sometimes get the feeling that there's more to not telling lies than simply not telling people that you're one when you're really two.

KOBUN: Right speech ...

STUDENT: Does it refer just to things that we say out loud, or things that we say inside our head?

KOBUN: I think it's both. Thinking is process of putting words in mind, even you don't speak. Most of the time only 1 % of our word activity is talking; most of the time, very fast thinking.

STUDENT: Is there thought that's independent of words, and then translated into words?

KOBUN: Many times, instead of translation into words, keep picturization of things. And there are very symbolic forms, terms, you are thinking, which have to be translated when you express them to others. Buddhist scholars in India worked on this area, deep study of how mental activity arises. Svaha paramana . Svaha : for yourself. Para : for others. Speech is, talking is, for others. I compare this with the process of making a picture from a negative. Sva paramana is before the print is made. It is the process of the camera's shutter taking an impression onto the film. That process is invisible from outside. Most of the time in subconscious state it work. It's like when you go to a shop and choose a color. You cannot say why you chose that color. Sva paramana is when you say, “I like that best.” Some choose, “My husband like this color, my wife like this color, so I chose this.” Para paramana works when you relate with other people. Shakyamuni Buddha's teaching, which is also called Dharma, is like this: When someone is hungry, his sva paramana changes to the para paramana , as a form of food. Many times Buddha's teaching does not depend on sva paramana , but is very dependent on each condition in which his teaching came....

Right speech, this is very big sphere.

STUDENT: The feeling I had is that if one were to start with the simplest things one couold say about right speech, the first thing you could say was that it involved not telling lies.

KOBUN: That is ... sixth precept: Not to speak untruth; also not to speak of yourself in better than truth, not to speak of others in lesser than truth. Don't lift yourself in talking down or up. That is untruth. The last precept, tenth precept, is not to condemn the Triple Treasure. It's like when you talk, “I am foolish person,” that means you condemn the Triple Treasure. Triple Treasure never say, “I am foolish.”

STUDENT: It sounds like you're making such an absolute out of telling the truth. I can't quite grasp it, but it's just not responsible to tell the truth all the time.

STUDENT: Almost whatever you do you wind up telling the truth, somehow, because you can't hide where you want.

KOBUN: Expression by words, in very deeper sense is untrue. It's a limitation of word and symbol, which always points at truth as close as possible; unfortunately it is not the truth itself. We cannot avoid this activity of talking; it is almost the only possibility for communication when people's experiences are different. Like, two men are hiking in the mountains in daytime. Maybe they don't speak too much, but when nighttime comes and they don't know where they are, they have to make big sound: “Where are you” ... “I'm here” ... “Where is here?” They have to search where they are. Talking has this kind of sense. When a circumstance is experienced by several people, there is not so much to speak. Buddhist term is gen me jo setsu . Words disappear, vanish, when truth appear. Important thing to remember is speaking with truth. As long as truth cannot completely be expressed by words, to speak with truth is the only way to let the word work. Let truth speak is the only way. Speak with kindness. If you don't have compassionate mind, the truth cannot appear. Truth cannot be let out. Let truth out.

STUDENT: Truth is an animal in a cage!

KOBUN: It is. That is how everything appears. Not only personal feeling of compassion but compassion of whole thing appear. Direction you go is, when you work and meet with people, your face and whole body turns, all energy is directed. That direction is the same direction the whole of life, the whole universe is moving. That is how truth appears, how truth is spoken, expressed. In a deeper sense, talking is like all words. The whole activity by words, all libraries, all authors, all poetrys, are the sound which tells you the direction the whole thing is moving. You see the function, meaning of the whole of language activity. It's like music, like symphony, like music, and language is itself very simple. Yet yelling, sharp sound is like a dog is barking.... Humans started this activity from that state, and started to develop sound.

STUDENT: Like the Tibetan monks? Sounds to me like pre-sound. Chanting, in an evolutionary sense, before words.

KOBUN: Let truth speak. Let truth chant. Let chanting, extremely low voice, maybe lower than opera bass, somewhere else. Symbolic meaning of this example very clear. Like when you say, dun, dun, dun, dun ... send a message.

STUDENT: Morse code.

STUDENT: Telegraph?

KOBUN: Telegraph. And also body by body. When speech cannot reach, voice can reach to very far place. Sailor, old-time sailor...

STUDENT: Semaphores.

KOBUN: Semaphores, and you interpreted words. This kind of activity tells how the truth, how reality is understood in communication of people. Even if it is real, if it is not truth, better not to speak of it. This is how to keep our attitude. An example is a Japanese swordsman who is blind. When people call him blind, three times, his sword pops out and cuts off hand. He doesn't like to be spoken truth! Uselessness of speaking truth exists. This is how we practice – to know not to make poison out of reality, out of truth. Dogen used to say, “loving speech, loving kindness speech, which is true words.” Like when we are exhausted at bedtime and speak about it, “Oh, I'm tired.” You get more tired. That is a kind of power; not power, just communication of words and real feeling... like how we ‘re speaking.

We use negative power in a positive way. This is how we turn suffering to pleasure. Otherwise when ignorance appears in the world, it can't be taken care of. Even in words of untruth, truth exists. We have to keep that kind of attitude. When I feel good, I say, “I feel good.” When I don't feel good, I say, “I don't feel good.” This is a very negative expression of truth, and to speak about it loudly is unnecessary. But it tells that a negative thing is happening. So when we open to very strong poisonous words of people, we really find what to do with them. Again we return to truth. Truth rejects word and from truth word appears. Word is not truth itself. That is a very interesting point.

STUDENT: Do you have anything to say about gossip?

KOBUN: Gods really enjoy gossip...

STUDENT: what if you only say kind things about someone?

KOBUN: Bitter word of someone should be spoke directly. Sweet word of other should be in rumor. That makes the person who speaks more true. That is how truth speaks. Truth is always stronger than word. Rumor is a kind of state of thinking; kind of wasting time, too. But, if you have nothing to do, maybe rumor helps you. In Japan it is called the “committee meeting.” Housewives around the well...

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