17. Thursday, June 7, 1973
Trust, God

STUDENT: It seems like our whole practice is based on a trust and a faith, which is indefineable.

KOBUN: I think Christ's word, I can't remember where, was “Life is to believe, to believe, to live is to believe.”.... Like we very seldom feel, “I am really living” ... but every moment without question, without any trouble we live on. That is a good sign, trust.

STUDENT: Just breathing is trust.

STUDENT: I've heard from our teachers that trust and faith and belief are important, but these seem to me like abstractions...

STUDENT: [Other student] and I were arguing the other night about the Bodhisattva's spirit. I read him something that I had seen in a lecture by Suzuki Roshi, in which he said, “The spirit of a Bodhisattva is to seek for difficulties, to confront difficulties. With great confidence you must endanger your life."” And he said, "Kobun wouldn't say that. He wouldn't say to seek for difficulties....” But I can see a sense in which it is important to seek for those difficulties. Like seeking for the difficulties that would expand your trust, knowing that you're tight about the things that you own, one by one give them away.

KOBUN: That “seek” is very important, if you know what is a problem. Trust needs tremendous wisdom. It's not like just warm kindness. It is complete understanding you have to have. Trust has knowing. Mind of trust is like a diamond; it cannot be broken by doubt or elusive idea. Very important thing is to look into ourselves and whether we have it or not, and when we find it we can speak. Otherwise it go round and round. It's like a trip in the dictionary!

(Students discuss trust.)

STUDENT: There are kinds of discussions that talk won't help at all.

STUDENT: Is this one of those?

KOBUN: When you speak of beginning faith, a very old topic comes up. When we speak of the existence of God, when we think of it, the possibility is always exactly 50%; 50% “no,” 50% “yes.” Meister Eckhardt said, “I believe in Him to know Him.... So when I say I want to know myself, what comes first is belief, ‘I exist, I exist,' and knowing follows.... The basis of my existence is the same base as the existence of God,” Meister Eckhardt believed.

The Buddhist word, pratitya-samutpada (”Arising from causation... essentially a denial of spontenaity. Since all phenomena come into existence because of pratitya-samutpada , they lack an essential self-nature and are impermanent....” Japanese-Buddhist Dictionary.) , “dependent origination” .... in another word, the term of “emptiness”.... Like when I'm pointing at someone, I'm pointing at the whole thing, one form. If the whole thing misses one cause, it disappears immediately. Like when one element of a clock is broken, everything stops. In this way an experience of God is like the relation of one person and the whole perfect thing. What one feels is completeness, and appreciation of being [alive]. If you ask, “What is God?” he will speak, “whole life.” Creation is like that. Without the creature, Creator cannot be called Creator.

STUDENT: But that doesn't make them the same. The created couldn't be the Creator.

KOBUN: Ya, logically it cannot be the same. Like mother and child; without child a mother can't exist. Like Christ was asked by someone whether it was Mary who made him. He pointed to a woman; He didn't say “my mother.” For Christ, “mother” was God.

STUDENT: I have a question. You said, “Trust comes first and then understanding.” So I took that as advice, and made trust almost like a feeling, trusting in anything, because I felt I could convince myself of anything. I could make the world become anything I wanted it to be, rather than seeing it how it was. I still don't know what's going on, but it feels ok.

KOBUN: You can feel what trust is. I was invited to Stanford to hear some music. People came on the stage and trust appeared. A very sure feeling. (Other student's) husband came and stood beside the countertenor. I had a very strong sureness what those people were going to do.... An example of my trust is that the Third World War doesn't happen. It is very sure, everyone has to know it is impossible.... Actually there are many, many world wars. Because of the visible conditions we named the first one and second one. But the third one happened; it is ending. We don't know whether it was the third one or the first one.

STUDENT: They should call every world war “last world war.”

KOBUN: We sit in this world war which have no name, and so we have to really sit, otherwise we will easily become the one who pushed the button.... Trust is to know whether people can trust each other. It's more important than trusting. It's more mixed state. If people believe in God, it's perfectly fine. If people believe in nothing, that's perfectly fine. So what. Can you believe yourself, believe him, believe her? That point is important. If you do gassho, this is very, very symbolic, very actual expression of trust and gratitude.

We spoke about trusting, but we didn't speak about how it feels to be trusted. Very heavy. Very strong thing, to be trusted. When you feel God, trust is quite a big job, and to be trusted has the same feeling. It's a kind of miracle. Realization of Buddhahood is nothing but this total trust of people's true nature. It is the same thing as a need to be seen by Buddha. Bodhisattva's devotion, Bodhisattva's vow, is on this line. By being seen by Buddha they do a tremendous job. Jiso Bodhisattva jumped into, not dropped into, from his head he goes to hell. Hakuinzenji was like that and Joshu was like that. Nansen was like that, the famous one who cut the cat. Those figures were people who went straight into hell, to the bottom.

STUDENT: Does that also mean to be conversant with the hell in yourself, give it space to express itself?

KOBUN: Um hmm.... When they appear in hell, hell disappear; like when you put on the light, darkness disappears. So it's a strange thing, when they appeared... there is no hell. Hakuinzenji's beautiful scroll (it's not beautiful at all), very big calligraphy, namu abid jigoku dai bosatsu , great Bodhisattva, hell Bodhisattva, the new Bodhisattva appear. Hell is called Bodhisattva.

One day the head of a big industry came to his friend to say his industry is collapsing and he will have to commit suicide. He felt that, when he was dead, everything would be taken care of. The friend made tea, put the scroll in the tearoom, and served tea. He was a very rich man and the businessman had come to ask for help. After serving tea this master says, “I won't help you; stay here for a few minutes.” He was leaving with his scroll which was written by Hakuinzenji, “Great Hell Bodhisattva.”

The master says, “If you like that scroll, take it, it's very expensive.” If the businessman sold it his whole industry would be saved. But the businessman said, “Thank you very much for serving tea; I will try once more.” He remembered what he saw, “I met with Hakuinzenji. I'll try once more. If it doesn't work, we won't see each other any more.” After that his industry went from the bottom to a very good condition. When we see this kind of occasion; when you see Hakuin's calligraphy, even if you don't read the Japanese character, you can see that very strong spirit. There is no trace of the brush. No one can tell how he draw that.

« back to preview