30. Thursday, October 4, 1973
GUEST: Do the grandchildren in Japan massage their grandparents?
KOBUN: I have many experiences. Once I spent some summer vacation weeks with my friends and when I left there, seeing me off at the train station, he said, “You can go, but you leave your hands.”
GUEST: Because you do the massage?
KOBUN: My mother sometimes had a very difficult shoulder, it's like steel. The little hand go between and make soft. To speak of just the visible part of activity, to speak of it as energy, is not enough. Something very more whole thing is coming together. If two people are receiving shiatsu, it's not just that, whole feeling comes together. From very little boy, teacher is the mother. “Little more right here...” We can feel what is wrong with the muscle, which part should be touched.
STUDENT: You know, when I think about it, I was sort of close with my parents, and I consider them now as very good friends. But my body refuses to think about me doing it to my parents, although it seems a very good idea. That's in Holland. I think it's fair to say in the United States it would be the same way.
KOBUN: This touching is very interesting. Physically you see a separation, but in a spiritual sense it doesn't help. Separation of the body is a very small part of it. Mother and son or daughter are already, how you say it...?
GUEST: Entwined or enmeshed.
KOBUN: It is not like communication from outside and come together. It's more like little separation has come back to same.
STUDENT: You mean this touching would complete this enmeshment that would make it all right?
GUEST: Do zen monks massage each other. Is there physical contact in the monasteries?
KOBUN: At break time of a tight schedule, they help with the muscle aches. They help each other. Some don't want to be touched. Some want to constantly be touched. There is some communication by eye! There is a very family-like feeling. No competition in the monastery. That is very interesting. Like a family doesn't compete. Rather, if there is some competition, it is more spiritual, stable support for the whole family. That kind of competition of family members exists. You can quite understand why the gassho. This is really very symbolic. If this one is you (indicating one hand in half gassho) this one is other (putting hands together). If this is you and this is whole universe, it means you can touch. And you express how you feel without touching, by seeing the gassho you feel it.
STUDENT: How do you feel after gassho? Well, I know that in meeting somebody it always gets worse. When I see something or somebody, then it's really great, but then you stop talking and it cuts off. I would like to meet and then keep meeting, so to say.
KOBUN: The sorrow of departure is not only bad thing. Like when you grasp something and when you sorry to part, to release it, real feeling is release feeling. There is one big part that release him.
STUDENT: Yes, it's like then you have to return to how people ought to talk and deal with each other.
KOBUN: Talking should be very careful, not grasped too hard. Some say more spiritual unity, without touching, is communicated. We can try to go deeper and deeper. And release for each other, from each other, is very important thing... to become independent, which is independent energy.
STUDENT (woman): Like mother and son. First it's a little bit, then she gives more, till finally...
STUDENT (man): It's a gift, the release.
STUDENT.: You let go of your son, you then have a spiritual relationship with him, whereas before it was a physical relationship.
KOBUN: Someone said departure is the beginning of meeting. Unity is the beginning of separation. Separation is the beginning of unity. It sounds like a play of words, a game of words, but in real communication with each other, this is very true. Separation of the body doesn't make so much difference to realizing same house, or same city, or in the same world. Separation is like him go, let myself go myself. This situation between living beings can make, how you say it, unity, by it's finality. Many people know this finality and, staying there, he comes back to the other. Not physically in the body with other people, actually, not somewhere else, but the very center.
STUDENT: I find it very difficult how to handle negativity. In an encounter, I'm not centered enough that if I meet a negative person, I know it too late. I find myself saying amazing negative things. How do you approach that?
KOBUN: Negativity, positivity, negativeness, positiveness, is quite a flexible idea. If your sense of positivity is very high, many things will appear on the negative side. Almost everything will appear negative for you. Minus one from the center point will appear very far, plus one will be very close to minus one. This has a very strong influence on how you put your energy. It's not just an idea.... How you live is actually total giving.
STUDENT: You mean, when I pick up some negativity, I gave that much?
KOBUN: When you pick up something, that means you gave that energy to it. So constantly you are communicating. The problem comes from the idea of healing. Healing is also technique. If you see just your family physician, or another doctor, the approach is a rough one, like surgery. Surgery doesn't have too much difference from medical treatment.... The sense of healing depends on negativity. Comparatives are set up. At the extreme, you don't know if he is healed or not. At some point he can become more and more healed by you so you don't have to heal him any more. Now you have to be healed by him. I shouldn't say, “comparative.”
STUDENT: I can see that very clearly. But when you talk, Kobun, about stressing positivity and negativity, you seem to have felt that thinking in those terms there's something fishy about that. As soon as you catch yourself slipping over into the negativity, you start to think, “Oh, bad girl!” Then you zip back and think, “Well, I do this to myself.” Now I'm not sure but what that isn't dividing the world up, separating what needs to be together more.
KOBUN: Negativity is communication. Like you are quite good, strong swimmer. If you know this boy is not so good swimmer, and he start to swim in the ocean and go very far, without knowing his energy. He doesn't have negative feeling, but you know it is not possible for him to come back. At that time this sense of negativity work. You ask yourself, “Do I have enough energy to come back with him?”
STUDENT : That was stupid...
KOBUN: It's not stupid. If you say it's a stupid person who's swimming, that's not called love. You easily give up. He's gone. So a very important thing is sense of negativity. Very compassionate self, compassion appear and catch the negativity.... Separation. This is a very important point. If you do not love someone and you don't go, say, to the hospital, where that person is dying. You have just spoken that there is a mistake. If you do not love someone who is close to death and you do not offer to go to them.... It looks like he's another person, but he is a part of you so you feel him and want him as you are.
STUDENT: Kobun, it seems that it would be easier to offer a coat and warm food to someone who is starving than to feel that a person who is being violent and killing... is part of me.
GUEST: Negativity is really only complementary. We realize the act of love when we realize that negativity is not negative. It's what you call compassion.
KOBUN: It is same thing. The person who is starving, cold, in the streets. That is another fear of the person who is concerned about him... very full of love, very violent person. Like if the big empty space needs to be filled the only brightness is energy. The battle is personal. If you just see each fighter from both sides, or from many sides, it's like one person's activity. It is our problem. It is not someone else's problem, even if you do not recognize, “I began it....” Even if you are ignorant that there were reasons, close to you, close to other people, that caused the problem, you cannot blame the battle on the people who practice it. If a third person appears and there is battle and the third person sits there without doing anything, in the physical sense, because, as a whole, the battle is one piece. If one is very ignorant, one will be in the battle place doing the same thing as other people. How can we take care of our individual life to find out the level [of involvement]? If your practice transcends the whole condition, not just standing out from the others but when you practice you bring the whole thing up ... or the whole thing sinks. This is very important point.
STUDENT: There were two or three or more Buddhist monks in Viet Nam who lit fire to themselves. A woman asked me not long ago, “If the Buddhists believe in serenity, why would a Buddhist do that?”
KOBUN: Yes, we have to become his mind. It seems very outside of us, not knowing what's happening and how his feeling was. It's like part of your finger goes away. That is monk's death. And you don't know what's happened .... Very strong opinion. There will be strong criticism if he dies that way, that one time. If he dies many times in this one body, it doesn't burn. One finger goes, another finger grows up. Somehow it was very strong opinion.... When someone says, “Why does he sacrifice his whole life like that?” The one who is asking “why” is also dead, like his burned body. “Why am I living like this?” is the real question. He wanted to let people know... end of life. Maybe some people think it is stupid. Some say he has a short temper. But for him there was only one way. If you see a double image of that monks burning body and a young soldier's body and do not see sameness, you're not understanding what is going on.
STUDENT: A Christian idea is that Christ died to save us.
KOBUN: Christ had the sense, “I will save the people.” I doubt that when he was on the cross, he had that feeling, “I'm dying for you.” When you see the process, how he walked to the cross, you can clearly say he cut off his relation, from his side, not to bring all of his followers to him.
STUDENT: To Peter, he said, “You will deny me.” But you're saying he told Peter to deny him.
STUDENT: Is it so that Christ understood the difficult position of his followers?
KOBUN: This happens over and over again for many people. It's not just the historical life of Jesus. Some million people carry the same theme of life. There are many Japanese Christians who died on the cross.... St. Paul, I feel very pain when I speak of this. St. Paul talked about the blood of Christ as blood of Paul. So he understands what happened. If we understand Christ's life as someone else's blood, it's like some kind of bug in a dead branch. It's not like that. Whether he really died or not, we have to think. You can really see the resurrection. It looks like Christ's resurrection, but what it is, what actually happened, is not Christ's story. It's other people's, it's everyone's who knew Christ. It's the expression of interest in Christ's death, and what followed, what happened to all the people. For one directed toward the mountain is the one who comes to face Christ. On the way this man met with Christ, after his death. That experience is a very interesting thing. We must meet with Christ every moment when we direct our study to meet with Christ. Every moment this man was meeting with Christ. He was within Christ.
Talking is very strange. We accept the extreme examples of earthly religion, like rain falling. Some rain goes right on top of the seed, some rain goes in the fire, some rain goes in the ground of the valley. It is a very important thing to let grow the different kinds of men or women. Understanding religion, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, comparing them with the contemplative eye, we see very delicate differences, like many ways of climbing. Not to do it, one climbs. To watch it from this point, is climbing. To do it in a very polished way, is to climb, actually climb. To admire the climb is one type of climbing....