29. Thursday, September 13, 1973
Now, Sources of Knowledge

STUDENT: Well, I've been reading the Murti book about Buddhism. One of the basic assumptions of this book is that reality is permanent and unchanging.

KOBUN: This “reality” which he used is not a right sense of the ordinary use of this word. It's more absolute meaning of reality. Very philosophical. There is nothing to speak about or do with it. It's like two cars go in the same direction, full speed, and two men are talking, “Hi.” Very quiet. It feels like that. Slowly, they see changes so finely, they cannot say when they got old!.... “Permanent, unchanging,” it has very strong sense of seeing and talking of all different forms in sameness, why we say everything is same but different. If there is no basic sameness, you cannot say... different. When you speak of everything from knowing the sameness of everything, this sentence makes sense.

STUDENT: But it seems to me that experientially you have all kinds of differences, never having experienced the sameness.

KOBUN: When I say “sameness,” it is not as “similar,” or “close.” Just one thing. A realization of emptiness. Seeing change, you see unchanging. [Yet] realization of eternity is impossible to limited being. For finite being, to experience infinite is impossible, but, strangely, reality is not so.

Usually we have the kind of feeling, “I am infinite.” If we say, “Everyone dies, so we are impermanent,” it is true. Everyone dies. But whether it can be said 100% right, is there another possibility of 100%? Knowledge and faith in reincarnation is another 100%. When we say “everyone dies,” everything is impermanent, changing. On the other hand, if you say, “In its reality, everything is permanent and unchanging,” then how do you express this? Do you stop breathing, then? How do you tell this one grey hair among black hair? In religious experience there is “infinite present, eternal present, eternal now.” If you hear these words, you understand what Murti meant.

Like when I say, “now,” maybe someone will say, “Oh, it is 7 to 8.” If I say, “My ‘now' is everything, everywhere, that is my ‘now.'” Experience, interpretation about this ‘now' very, very various, including idea, conception of 7 to 8. This ‘now' has the sense of eternity, unchanging. When I say “here,” same thing. And yet, when you just hear the words “now,” and “here,” it is merely personal experience, even if I meant perfect world, nothing else exist, no time exist except here and now. The next person will say, “That is just your idea, your experience,” and I have to say, “Of course it is.”

STUDENT: Murti says there's no way to get from one moment to the next, or from one place to the next.

STUDENT: Sounds just like idle chatter. Is there any authority, anything we should believe?

STUDENT: You should only believe your eyes.

STUDENT: Well, except that those are your limited senses, too.


KOBUN: The perfect dipper is like each of us. What is life is to feel how big it is... dip in the Pacific Ocean. It is self-clinging to look around and to imagine there is an authority out of myself. That is self-clinging. “If such thing happen I'll jump and stick to it.” If someone comes to you and says you are an authority, and you say, “No, I am not authority of anything,” they say, “Because of this and this and this and this and this, I see you have all of them, so I feel you have authority for me.”

STUDENT: Endlessly we can pick up books, and someone else'll have another theory and we notice it and say, “Hmm, let me see how that one fits in.” I just feel like it's enough already of looking around.... [But] we all have different networks to get through.

STUDENT: Like the philosophers say, we all have very basic assumptions that we go on, undefined to ourselves, notions of time and space, reality and truth, da da da da, and it's good to bring those out and see what they are.

KOBUN: Misunderstanding exists about what philosophy is. I think everyone is a philosopher in a real sense. Right now, there is no great figure in philosophy. So it is a kind of difficult time to do philosophy. But it is a very big sphere of the intuition. Expression is just one part of philosophy. There is the sphere of intuition, which is more trustful than anything else. When you love somebody who is sick, understanding of reality is not perfect thing. How to do with it is next step. So communication is very important. Whether we can step forward with new condition, new situation. If there is change, there is possibility to change things. If there is no change in reality, just to sit there and spend time, watch time pass, and time say, “No, I am not passing, you are just passing me.”

There is very big difference, real philosophy and just philosophy. Like people think, “I saved this man, I saved him from dying.” Many times we do things and think, “I helped him, saved him. It was good for him.” Many times it is just understanding. Whether it was truly so or not, we cannot tell.

Very important point is to feel usual, not high temperature or low temperature. Many times we seek excitement and when something exciting, or depression, exists, you feel, “Oh, I am living. I am living.” If nothing is felt, “I am not perfect. I am not something.”

“Reality,” is a very cool word, as Murti used it. It doesn't excite us at all. He always uses very cool words. But how to understand him, how to feel what he meant, we can consider what this “reality” means.

STUDENT: Kobun, one thing I've been thinking about lately is, how do you know things. A problem for me is whether we know things because we think we should know them, or whether it's socially advantageous to know them. Like if you get into a profession, a lot of the things you know you learn from books or from classes. Or we know things because that's what everyone around us is knowing. But when do we know because we know, because I know, for no other reason than that I know it?

KOBUN: There is only one reason why we do make effort to know things. Knowing is when someone come to you, a complete stranger, and he stand in front of you and say nothing. And he doesn't do anything to you, just stands. “Who are you? Can I do something for you? Why you stay here? You have to say!” That is beginning of knowing. “What a fool are you! Why you stay here?”

STUDENT.: It's like being open, willing to learn?

KOBUN: Um hmm. If his looks is very like monster, without saying, “How are you?” you turn and run. “I don't need to know this....” Traditional religions, and for a long period of time, philosophy, and the great, fast development of science, those are monster-like things. You face to it. You don't know where to begin. Almost impossible to go through, to know everything. It's like going into market. You don't have any idea what to cook, and you go into market and just one or two apples makes you satisfied, but you start to feel, “Oh, this makes this food, and this makes that food. Sounds good!” I do such a foolish job sometimes, like to go to Japanese bookstore is my favorite.... It scares me too, new publishing. I don't use Japanese in daily life, so, to see, open, “Oh, very expensive! Nobody buy this book.” Many Buddhist book, new scholars' book appear, and it is interesting thing to have such custom. It relate with my past experience, connects with them. Some of them are good friend of mine, writing. For a long time I didn't see... and I was guessing how he work. The temptation to buy it and to read it is very big.

We have our true nature, very, very original nature. Primitive nature, in each case, intuitively judges, “This is fantastic, interesting, but I do not go with this,” or, “This is foolish to go.” Your nature decides it, judges it. We don't know how sure it is. Usually we don't know how we decide things. The place we are now is the place your true nature wants to be. This is no doubt. The physical body is best friend of true nature. Head part is a kind of almighty, to suggest things, “How about this? How about that? That sounds good, and that sounds good.” And, finally, you are too busy. “Let me decide to go this way!” “This is fine, a good thing to do now.” Everyone is very wise. How wise we are we don't know. Whether this wisdom fully works or not depends on opportunity. Sometimes this wisdom fully works without hesitation. That is like offering of your whole life on some little occasion, “This is really foolish but this has to be done now, otherwise my whole life will be just a piece of rag, useless.” (tape ends)

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