3. Thursday, January 4, 1973
Who is Buddha? Joriki, tariki; No-self

KOBUN: Are Zen practicers “self-righteous”? If you are a woman and mother, you may see it that way. Big character of Zen, but it's not the whole character. You see something more deep, always in background of the Zen text.... Zen people called the Shakyamuni Buddha, the historical Buddha, “old fellow”.... There is the other side of this word which is extreme, whole commitment of whole life. This man was the founder and yet you don't put yourself higher or lower, that kind of feeling. “Who is Buddha?” At the same time you see the cleaner of the toilet ... little bamboo stick which is in the bathroom. You may just see the craziness of this answer to the question, “Who is Buddha?” It's a little strange, but the real meaning is that even the toilet paper is Buddha. There is no exception. Everyone has Buddha nature, even used toilet paper. You can get that kind of feeling. In Lotus Sutra there is a very strong teaching. Five hundred left when Buddha was going to speak. He let them leave. The time wasn't right for them. “They think they know what I'm going to speak. Many lives later they will meet with my teaching.” When we go to a mental hospital, see physically distorted people. From their birth they cannot be normal. Even those people can be Buddha. In Mahayana Buddhism there is this kind of idea. No exception. All have Buddha nature.


KOBUN: Do you think about breath to really feel breathing of God? Do you think breath of God is different from enlightenment?

STUDENT: No. It's different how you get there.

KOBUN: No. No different. Just a different attitude.

KOBUN: Maybe you see the physical part, cultural part of the mind attitude.

STUDENT: There is enlightenment, but there is also an expression of the enlightenment, and that can be very different. Different expressions appeal to different people.

KOBUN: Ya. There should be difference in that way.

STUDENT: For example, I think of people from yoga, Indian teachers who visit this country, and Zen masters from Japan who visit. There is a much different feeling.

KOBUN: You don't see real figure, then. Like Fidel Castro, that kind of expression.... Even his mind become strong expression like tears, merciful tears. Probably people sometimes misunderstand it comes from expression of anger....

What makes the difference between normality and holiness? There are many saints and sages in the Christian tradition. When those saints and sages appear among people, they are quite different from many Zen practicers. Maybe more like farmer, or American Indian, old American Indian. They smell like soil, not light, bright, shiny. Unfortunately we cannot see living examples of saints. When I look around, each person has a very different feeling.

STUDENT: I should have brought some pictures – Ramana Maharshi and a Christian monk, a Zen master.

KOBUN: And a well-painted picture of you can sit among them! I am sure nobody would doubt, “Who is this? His name is not written anywhere.” For me, this was very strong teaching. Dogen popped out. Among one hundred people one person stick up, stand up higher. Standing out among people is nonsense. Nonsense means it doesn't make any sense. It's a delusion because it's standing up among Buddhas. To stand up or want to stand out is delusion. Very strong teaching. Maybe that is my lifetime kyosaku. “Never stand out.”

STUDENT: So you try to be the most normal person in Los Altos.

KOBUN: That is a koan, “What is normal?” A miracle is not difficult to recognize but we only see it when we slip off from it. To keep good health a whole year, that is a miraculous thing. But we say, “That's nothing, that's not a miracle.” Different from crossing the Red Sea.... From the viewpoint of the Pure Land school if human nowaday attain enlightenment it's a miracle. It is almost impossible thing. The basic idea is, when living beings try to become Buddhas by their power, that is like a little ant trying to move a big snail, or a human trying to move a mountain. It is a miracle when it happens.

STUDENT: In Zen people work very hard to see how things are. I want to contrast that with Christianity where you have something like the grace of God. I find for myself that working very hard and seeing better and working hard and seeing more, that doesn't work so well. Grace and things like that seem much better. So when I read Zen literature and all the stories, they're all clever or they're all outsitting each other and they're all doing it themselves. I find it kind of not good.

KOBUN: “Not good!” One day I was in the kitchen right after breakfast, washing, straightening things and someone came into the house and a big voice came from him. A Jesuit Father came to say “God bless you,” and I said “thank you.” It is not so big difference when someone else says “God bless you.” About one year ago I met an old man in Los Altos. He said, “I am 93 years old.” We were walking on the sidewalk, and when we said goodbye I knew him. He said, “God bless you.” I didn't feel a strange feeling.

STUDENT: It's the feeling “I will do it, I can do it, I have just to work hard.”

KOBUN: It's big characteristic of Zen. The feeling is “I must do it. I cannot ask others for me.” Little different from self-righteous.... Joriki and tariki are traditional words. Joriki is self-power; tariki is other power. This came from the difference between Zen and the Pure Land school. In Zen, even Buddha doesn't help you to be enlightened. In the Pure Land school you cannot do anything; only Buddha can. Amitaba Buddha can save you. It looks like a very different idea. But the root is the same. The appearance is a little different. In joriki , when the self is ego-centered or self-centered it is not true joriki . It's like a misunderstanding, like a fish speaking, “I am dog.” It's not the true self. Joriki is the joriki of Buddha, the true nature of all, each person, and tarik i is the same thing. What is different is how you say this joriki . Is that your power or the joriki of Buddha? And tariki is the other person's power or Buddha's power. The root is the same: It's no-self. No-self is the root, same root. For example, in Zen text there is always a strong emphasis on no-mind, no-self. It doesn't mean I don't exist, my mind doesn't exist.

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