KobunBW_13Although Kobun was an expert Zen archer and calligrapher, as well as a master of Zen ritual form, many of his students say that the main way he taught was by example. Three brief stories may illustrate his “Everyday” approach to practice:

– As a master of Zen archery, Kobun was asked to teach a course at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. The target was set up on a beautiful grassy area on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Kobun took his bow, notched the arrow, took careful aim, and shot. The arrow sailed high over the target, went past the railing, beyond the cliff, only to plunge into the ocean far below. Kobun looked happily at the shocked students and shouted, “Bull’s eye!”

– When Everyday Dharma Zen Center’s Head TeacherĀ Carolyn Atkinson was diagnosed with breast cancer in the early 1990s, she called Kobun, her teacher, who was living at the time in Taos, New Mexico. He didn’t say much on the phone. Two days later, he appeared on her door-step, having flown in from New Mexico. Carolyn says, “I felt profoundly supported. What was powerful was his enormous acceptance of us, the kindness with which he opened himself to us. Simply being with him, I felt totally seen, he was completely with me.”

– Shortly after September 11, 2001, Kobun was the honored guest at the weekly meeting of the sangha which would become Everyday Dharma Zen Center. After meditation, Kobun asked for questions. A visibly distraught young woman asked, “How can I deal with the enormous fear and anger that I feel about what happened?” Kobun replied, “Do one kind thing for someone every day.”