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Kobun and the art of Kyudo

While Kobun is remained as Zen master and for his calligraphy, he also practized Kyudo. The traditional art of Japanese archery played an important role in his life. He received his training from Kanjuro Shibata XX in Kyoto (Heki Ryu Bishu Chikurin ha) at an early age. With Shibata Sensei was a close friendship. Throughout his life he practiced with varying intensity.

He taught on behalf of Shibata Sensei and sometimes independently. In subsequent articles kobun discusses some essential points of Kyudo. For him, the ultimate goal of Kyudo is the revelation of his own natural dignity. He further stressed that there is no difference between Kyudo and Zazen. Both require a lifelong exercise to the meeting of the target to reveal who you are.




Natural dignity and the arrow of the mind

A conversation with Kobun Chino on the 8th of July 1987 during the
Kyudo Intensive seminar at the Rocky Mountain Dharma Center


Question: What is natural dignity in Kyudo?
Chino Roshi: It is about the essence of shahin”. What are the characteristics of shahin? How to reach the practice of this shahin, whatever it is? (Laughter) [sha” means shot; hin” means something like dignity or the noble creature that is polished out by practice] It refers to the goal. The goal becomes a mirror, and my understanding is that this is target mirroran accurate reflection of one’s self, one’s own form as shakei” is called. [Kai” means the form.]


Our body, the limbs, the bow, the string and arrow, all together in a balanced harmony be like a healthy family. The father is the strength of the sheet is pressed from the left side; the nut is the tension of the chord drawn from the right side; the Peil is the child, let go to grow. You shoot to release the arrow so that it unfolds in space and time, you effort so that the spirit of archery gets a visible manifestation and also to develop the invisible quality in your life. Shashin” :. Shin” means mindcenter and mental life, and the consequent evolving meanings.



As Shibata Sensei has said it achieved” not shahin. What is polished out from inside unfolds naturally by themselves as properties of your own life, than life itself an archer yourself. These properties can be seen not only during shooting, but also as living proof in the appearance of a person and how life manifested every day. We appreciate not only to have such advanced practitioners among us, but also that there are practitioners who do not practice the way of the bow, and yet see shahin and feel.


For the old man who shot his arrow into the rock, it was perhaps his last arrow and his last shot of the day, as Sensei explained. In the history was the young archer on horseback of a higher rank than the old man, who went on foot, according to the hierarchy of warriors shaft. The two men’s settings to the way of archery were quite different. Sensei spoke of shahin and shakei together as the spirit of the arc path. When the old man with his last shot pierced the rock which must be shashin, shahin and have been shakei and also the proof of his lifelong practice. He was beyond just shakei and shashin. to pierce the rock is so amazing impossible. But the arrow of spirit pervades everything.


Kobun with Reb Anderson

Some texts speak about a famous Chinese archer called Gei [Ga]. He never missed the target under any circumstances whatsoever also at 100 yards. The mechanism of shakei and practice brings people to such a level. In addition to what we actually get to your question and master the way of the bow to return it’s not just shakei and removal of polishing own shashin or the blossoming of our being in the fruits of dignity. Would usually accompanies high and graceful execution, there is even charismatic indicator of merit in archery, which show up the other


But the merit of the practice of archery, the other shows, is the final proof of the arc path. Moreover, what is aimed Kyudo from anyway?


Gei and his teacher were well advanced in archery. Geis teacher was already close to death, and there was no written evidence of transmission to Gei. Without a written confirmation of the completion of his mastery of Geis teacher there was no confirmation and no way for Gei independent of his teacher to be. The fact that Gei had not received this transmission and independence, he and his teacher suffered greatly from the arc path. If someone has a job, he experienced that. A true teacher is actually impetuous and ultimately responsible for yourself. For the student, there is no end of learning while the teacher lives. There is also no end to the teaching of the Master. Therefore, it is very difficult for the master to see his accomplished student, he can teach anything, but still is in its proximity – as was the case with Gei. Day and night he and his master like wild dogs or something. Gei looked weak points, unclear moments and gaps in his teacher. In Japanese it is called “suki”, which means “gap” or “objective”.



The student was ready to shoot his teacher. This is how a swordsman looks at his opponent. Two people who have trained so hard, reach a point where there are two swords in the dojo. This tension between them continued until one day each of the two suki” in other felt. They shot at each other in the dark. On one such occasion one discovers the real meaning of his goal in life. What happened was that their arrows collided with each other. Since both gave up and said: OK You can go You can go … You can die at any time and goodbye. (The student says to the Master: I have everything that is received from you possible, so I no longer need you.” The Master is happy and relieved because he can die with this disclosure of the inheritance.) The relationship between teacher and students is very intense.



It is not necessarily a correction after the other, but a learning satisfactory learning from each other. The student learns from the teacher and the teacher learns from the students, perhaps even learns more than the student. It is this type of the protruding energy. (Break)


As I sit here today, I looked back on my life and really felt what I have been for a poor student. I did not go to see my teacher and to visit as much generosity and hospitality. I have not even written a letter of thanks. But it seems that one feels this shahin other. Probably it is not necessary to talk about it. Everyone remembers what is the real exchange in teaching.


Student: Some years ago I asked Sensei to his statement for my practice. He said that I should no longer shoot for myself but start for the other to shoot

CR: I knew that you wanted to talk about.
S: He has not answered the same question today. I’ve raised even a few times. I have my own interpretation of what that means, because Kyudo apparently so is an individual exercise, all up every itself. It is emphasized in this way. I wonder if you can give me as help out.


CR: I know what you mean with the archery for oneself and for others. I know especially the shooting for the other. I have a small question what it means and what you meant. It was very strange to hear that. Except maybe you talk to bring about hunting and food home for family or something. You think: . This is not for me my part is very small,” What do you mean to shoot for others?


S: I thought that you could give a clue to me or because the form is the form a robot could do that

CR: Oh yes! (Laughter) I know your kind of polite questions. It is a serious question. Why do I do this? An advanced student always has this problem. (Laughter) Like the idea of the Mahayana and Bodhisattvayana You’re talking about the quality of the sheet path.


S: I guess I had to.


CR: In Hinayana path and in Mahayana there are shakei, shashin and shahin. All together.

Why do I say that’s how I am sitting here today, I felt not only very poor archer … possibly the laziest in this room (laughter) I was wondering what I was doing all these years? Playing around or something. It was not that I had any resistors. My enthusiasm for the bow and the arrow there, since I was three years old. I always shot. So, looking back and wondering how I like the bow and arrow in my hands are -As I have taken it? At what stage of my life I was picked up by the sheet path?


While I‘m in my office aware of any long pauses, I see the arc path for about ten years out of my life. But in the spirit of Bogenweg was always there, even if I have to bow and arrow not attacked and no shooting. Returning to Rick’s question on the first day or was it the second? It is not necessary at this point to see the bow as a weapon. Now we are on such a point and I can talk about how the arrow of the Spirit penetrates daily life. The arrow of the Spirit acts in the same speed and accuracy every day. Thoughts are like arrows. You miss not, you do not verfehlst the goal. Have you noticed that? (Roshi looks around questioningly.) You have it not noticed.


All these years, I have kept neither bow nor arrow, my mind was always on the arc path.


In those years there was in me a big dilemma. The dilemma was whether the sheet path different from the practice zazen (sitting meditation) is. There is no difference. Although I have devoted most of my life this strange thing (Zazen) has, my own root master never taught me zazen. I started zazen when I studied Buddhism and am committed to it. I have chosen in this life nothing but zazen to make. Actually ending the dilemma between Bogenweg and Zazen when I choose a. Bow and arrow disappear when I practice zazen, and if I practice archery, I have at this time no sense of the seats. I forgot Zazen speak. Hmmm … you see how there could be a dilemma. But what I have learned from the zazen master, was not zazen. He has not even practiced Zazen, but I practice zazen and he always said, “Oh, you still sit?” (Laughter) And I say “Yes, I’m still sitting.”


This Zen master living in Japan, and he is a true teacher of mine. to be the purpose of teaching and a teacher, he is constantly the only one. When I look at you custom in this way, he is always behind you. That is a big problem. (Roshi laughs.) It is a very strange and frightening situation. Believe it or not, it is very common. He never wanted to be known. Perhaps you can feel that he is a kind of yogi. He lives so simply and quietly. No one noticed that he is a master. When I think in terms of shahin to him, or what I learned from him, watching, it is only one thing: hin.


My Master has taught me only one thing. I can not very well expressed in English: Be like me, do not be like me.” That was the only lesson that I have received. Become a master of the way of your teacher, learn, and watch everything that the master is doing and what people respond to him. In everyday life, you can see everything from the life of your teacher. As you followed his spirit of devotion to the path, you realize at the end of everything. So you can, if your master dies, stand as your own master.


This “be like me, do not be like me” Is frightening. It’s like when you get thrown out of the house. You go, discover and do something else. Something. I think you know that very well. You have your whole life experienced this topic in different situations when you guys meet, especially if you come closer to them and enter their lives. It may well be twenty since childhood. Shall we quit here – or do we still have time?


Kuden? Mysterious. I have always been interested in: Kuden. Do you know Kuden? It is the oral transmission, not written, and usually it is at all the only which is given, and only to a person not like this in public. There is the question of the content of Kuden. Again, if you look back on your life and your deepest concerns recognizes where her your most energy you put up today, because there is something that you have learned from this activity. Also, maybe someone has spoken to you about what you have done. For example, suppose you are cooking and you had many teachers before. Because there is one who has you physically taught one who let you watch the cooking and who gave you many fine recipes. Teachers appear in this type. But the root teacher, if he really trusts you, is the only one who can give you the transfer and confirm you.


This Kyudo family Heki Ryu Chiku Rin Ha (suns sinking current bamboo grove wave“) to which we belong, I do not know before how many generations they started, and when the Shikan-no-sho (book with four volumes) was written? This is a book that was written by one of our ancestors. It ranges from the simple to the really advanced. Very often it says to rely on Kuden, oral transmission. When you get in trouble on your way of exercise the exact and individual how and why you struggle by asking yourself, Where am I? I thought that I would have done. What actually happens? What can I possibly see from this situation? And so on.


In such situations, Sensei opens to you, and because there is no price for his teachings to you. He takes Kuden. All along, I have noticed that, so I congratulate you very much to: transfer face to face, physical presence and participation. His whole body and mind, his presence is like an arrow that reaches us from the past. That’s a wonderful thing you can rely on it and should appreciate it highly.


Let’s call it quits. I thank you.