In the early 1970's Thursday breakfast meetings which had begun with Suzuki Roshi became the responsibility of Kobun Chino. They took place in the living room of Les Kaye, resident host of the Haiku Zendo in Los Altos, California. After helping ourselves to potluck breakfast, several of us students settled ourselves in the living room, on couches and chairs, but mostly on the floor, and talked about Buddhism with Kobun.
The undersigned taped 33 of these discussions and transcribed them, unedited, for attendees. During the years since 1973 they rested in my study, ignored and forgotten, until I unearthed them during a move, in 2005. Others may have some copies of these transcripts, but I have no such information. It occurred to me that many people who knew Kobun, and many who didn't, could enjoy and possibly learn from his teachings contained in these transcripts, which emerged from frank, informal exchanges between Kobun and the crop of students who knew him then. Reading through the unedited transcripts, I decided that they needed to be trimmed of excess verbiage, irrelevant remarks by all participants, and especially opaque musings, for anyone, including me, to extract meaning from them.
I have undertaken this task in small doses over the past couple of years. The resources on which I have drawn in this editing process include devotion to the memory of Kobun and a moderately consistent perseverance in the practice of zazen . If I included any Buddhist terms in these edited transcripts, it is because Kobun persisted in using them, not because I understood them! In keeping with the spirit and tempo of the discussions, some of the student comments and questions are included. Kobun behaved as if we all had something important to contribute, and we did not fear his reactions. This was not dharma combat! Syntactical and grammatical idiosyncracies are included, in an attempt to recreate the experience of being in the room with Kobun as he was in 1973. Names of students are not used, in respect of their privacy, and to de-emphasize the importance of their personalities. Kobun's personality is perhaps revealed more clearly as a result.
His style was to let the subjects wander with the questions and then to bring the questions back after he had had a chance to absorb them. Nothing is organized here. The subjects appear, disappear, and reappear. Transcripts are listed in chronological order. Most frequently discussed subjects are identified for each transcript.