Kottke found Kobun amusing. “His English was atrocious,”

9 Nov

Kottke found Kobun amusing. “His English was atrocious,”

Kottke found Kobun amusing. “His English was atrocious,” he recalled.

“He would speak in a kind of haiku, with poetic, suggestive phrases.

We would sit and listen to him, and half the time we had no idea what he

 

was going on about. I took the whole thing as a kind of lighthearted interlude.”

Holmes was more into the scene. “We would go to Kobun’s meditations,

 

sit on zafu cushions, and he would sit on a dais,” she said. “We learned how

to tune out distractions. It was a magical thing. One evening we were

meditating with Kobun when it was raining, and he taught us how to use

ambient sounds to bring us back to focus on our meditation.”

As for Jobs, his devotion was intense. “He became really serious and

self-important and just generally unbearable,” according to Kottke.

He began meeting with Kobun almost daily, and every few months they

went on retreats together to meditate. “I ended up spending as much time as

I could with him,” Jobs recalled. “He had a wife who was a nurse at Stanford

and two kids. She worked the night shift, so I would go over and hang out

with him in the evenings. She would get home about midnight and shoo me away.”

They sometimes discussed whether Jobs should devote himself fully to spiritual

pursuits, but Kobun counseled otherwise. He assured Jobs that he could keep

in touch with his spiritual side while working in a business. The relationship turned

out to be lasting and deep; seventeen years later Kobun would perform

Jobs’s wedding ceremony.

Jobs’s compulsive search for self-awareness also led him to undergo

primal scream therapy, which had recently been developed and popularized

by a Los Angeles psychotherapist named Arthur Janov. It was based on the

Freudian theory that psychological problems are caused by the repressed

pains of childhood; Janov argued that they could be resolved by re-suffering

these primal moments while fully expressing the pain—sometimes in screams.

To Jobs, this seemed preferable to talk therapy because it involved intuitive

feeling and emotional action rather than just rational analyzing.

“This was not something to think about,” he later said. “This was something to do: to

 

close your eyes, hold

your breath, jump in,

and come out the

other end more insightful.”

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