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沢木興道 Sawaki Kōdō (1880-1965)


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Excerpts from
The Dharma of Homeless Kôdô by Uchiyama Kôshô

Excerpts from
To you by Sawaki Kôdô

PDF: Conferences de maître Kodo Sawaki

宿なし興道法句参 Yadonashi Kōdō Hokkusan
Excerpts from
The Dharma of "Homeless Kôdô"
by Uchiyama Kôshô Rôshi


"Yadonashi Kōdō Hokkusan" ("The Dharma of Homeless Kodo"), published in 1972 - a collection of Dharma words by Sawaki Kodo with commentaries by Uchiyama Kosho. This book was translated by Ichida Koshi into English and published together with "On Sawaki Kodo Roshi's Zazen" (translated by Okumura Shohaku) as "The Zen Teaching of 'Homeless' Kodo" (Tokyo: Sotoshu Shumucho, 1996). "The Zen teaching of 'Homeless' Kodo" contains 64 out of the 71 chapters of the Japanese original. This English translation includes the previously unpublished seven chapters.

1) No need to be in chains
2) The ultimate life
3) Efficiency
4) Seeing clearly
5) The greatness of Sawaki Roshi
6) Returning to the Self
7) Circumstances
8) The production of sutras
9) Group paralysis
10) What is happiness?
11) Human mass production
12) Mob psychology
13) The vouge
14) The hallucination caused by quantity
15) Loyalty
16) Good old opinions
17) Human advancement
18) One's own opinion
19) Collecting food and hatching eggs
20) Calculating the difference
21) With a depressed expression
22) Our inertial lives
23) Religion is life
24) Money
25) Everyone is naked
26) Given that I will die
27) Ghosts and the power of suggestion
28) In the family
29) My life
30) What makes you so attractive?
31) Grades in ethics

No need to be in chains

Sawaki Rôshi:

People call me "Homeless" Kodo, but I don't take it as an insult. They call me that because I have never had a temple or a house. Everyone is homeless. It is a mistake if you think that you have a fixed home.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

As his disciple, I did not always feel good when I heard Sawaki Roshi called "Homeless" Kodo. The word "homeless" reminded me of stray dogs and cats. But now I understand that his nickname is really a title for the true person. Everyone is a stray in reality.

Because my teacher was a homeless person, I also had to be homeless. The only way I could support myself was by begging, being barked at by dogs all day. One time a spitz viciously barked at me, growling and leaping as if it wanted to tear me to pieces. Suddenly, the collar chain broke and it immediately began to cower and whine. A dog threatens with barks and growls when it is chained, but quickly loses its nerve when freed. The spitz' behavior amused me because it reminded me of some human beings. They behave threateningly when they are chained by financial power, titles or organizations. As soon, as the chains are removed, they retreat, feeling small and powerless. How absurd they are. Each of us is just a person living alone, majestically. For human beings, there is no need to be in chains.


The ultimate life

Sawaki Rôshi:

A religion which has no connection with the fundamentals of life is futile. Buddhist practice shows the way to full actualization of the ultimate goal of human life, here and now. "Converting non-Buddhists" means to allow people to live in this way, thereby transforming their random, fradulent and incomplete ways of life.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

It has been over fourteen hundred years since Buddhism was introduced to Japan. The achievements of Buddhist priests have been admirable. They have never taught the religious essence of Buddhism. A priest's job is without comparison because no one else can live such an idle life. If you make a mistake chanting the sutras, the dead do not complain.

Sawaki Roshi said that Buddhist practice shows the way to the ultimate goal of human life. This was the teaching of Buddhism in the time of the Buddha, but since then the rubbish of Buddhist teaching has been emphasized and the essential teaching has been lost.

Sawaki Rôshi:

Most people do things without any clear view of life. They just do things in a makeshift way, like plastering their shoulder when it feels stiff.

To be born as a human being is a rare thing, something to be grateful for. But being born as a human being is worthless if you spend your whole life in a mental hospital. It is worthless if you worry about not having money. It is worthless if you become neurotic because you cannot get a prestigious job. It is wothless if you weep because you lose your girlfriend.



Sawaki Rôshi:

There are students who cheat in the university preparatory schools. Because of that, they must also cheat on the college entrance exams. This is the bent and twisted condition known as stupidity. Everyone in this world does things like that.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

All human beings are short-sighted in one way or another. Some people go into debt to buy luxury cars because they are symbols of wealth. In order to help his corrupt boss rise to a high position, a faithful lackey will take the rap for him even if means going to jail. We tend to act inconsistently, as if we couldn't think or havea sense of direction. In modern society, people try to increase their efficiency in every area of life. But where are they going? No matter how efficiently they act, unless they are going in the right direction, there is no difference between them and the insects that start buzzing around when spring arrives.

Science and technology have made great advances. This doesn't always mean improvement for human beings. We should clearly recognize the difference between these two. We should think deeply about what real progress is for human beings.

Sawaki Rôshi:

The world has become small because of developments in transportation. What are they doing, flying around in their quick cars? They drive fast only to save their worthless time. They are going to play pinball.

A familiar site is the red-eyed co-worker taking vitamin pills and saying, "I was up all night playing Mah-jong."


Seeing clearly

Sawaki Rôshi:

If you steal other people's things, you become a thief. Some people think that you become a thief only after you have been arrested by a policeman, questioned by a public prosecutor, had a judgment passed on you, and gone to jail. A corrupt politician considers himself a man of virtue and resource if he can avoid scandal and escape responsibility for his actions. People are so idiotic!

Alexander the Great, Ceasar and Genghis Khan were just big thieves. Ishikawa Goemon and Tenichibo were nothing compared to Hitler and Mussolini. Hitler and Mussolini were like Kunisada Chuji who said, "Let's go as far as we can," but they did it on a big scale. Gangsters of this sort are very highly spoken of by their followers.

We are always falling into ruts. A man with political power, with the help of school teachers and intellectuals, tries to force new conventions on us. The ways of distortion are very deliberate and complicated. The wisdom of Buddhism sees through this distortion.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

Most people have been made stupid. It would be fine in the presidents and premieres and other V.I.P's were really important to us, but it is a problem if they are felt to be important only because of convention and distortion. Buddhist practice allows people to open their eyes anew and see clearly, instead of falling prey to distortions. In order to straighten out the warped and deadly situation in world politics, everyone must open their eyes and criticize what they see.


The greatness of Sawaki Roshi

Sawaki Rôshi:

Someone said, "Sawaki Roshi wasted his whole life in zazen."

Uchiyama Rôshi:

This was his self-appraisal in the series called "The Unpainted Face," published in the Asahi Journal last year (1965). Since his death on the 21st of December, his followers have come to Antaiji to offer incense for the repose of his soul. Most of them do not remember him as a person who, "wasted his whole life in zazen." One person said, "Sawaki Roshi told off General Ugaki." Another said, "When he encountered old Mr. Matsunaga, he did such and such." Still another said, " When I asked him about the Suez Canal affair I was very impresses with his answer, alhough I didn't quite understand what he meant. He said, 'You should cover the canal with a kesa.' "

In the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) he was a courageous and highly decorated soldier. He always sadi, "As a daredevil, I am second to none." But then he would say, "That is only the greatness of Mori no Ishimatsu (a gambler famous for his bravery)."

Sawaki Roshi was from birth a vital and stimulating person who dominated other people and attracted them like a magnet. That was his karma, as natural for him as a cat catching mice or a musk deer emitting an attractive fragrance; it was not his greatness as a Buddhist.

Sooner or later a collecton of anecdotes about his life will be published, but that will only entertain people, not teach them Buddhism. Sometimes we miss the point in praising a person. In this case, there is no connection between his, "wasting his whole life in zazen" and the greatness of his character.


Returning to the Self

Sawaki Rôshi:

You can't exchange farts with anyone, right? Everyone has to live his own self. Who is good looking? Who is smart? You or I? There is no need to compare yourself with others.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

Sawaki Roshi devoted his whole life to Zazen. How did he describe it? In his early teaching, he often said, "Zazen makes the self into the self," and "To do Zazen is to become familar with the self." To do Zazen is to cast off everything and just sit, making "the self into the self."

Soon, final and entrance exams will be given in the schools. Some students will attempt suicide because of their poor grades on exams. Today's educational system only teaches competition. It does not teach how to return to the self. That's why such tragedies occur.

Whether you defeat others or are defeated by them, you live out the self which is only the self.

You never become someone else. Without being concerned about success or failure, go back to the self. Zazen is the practice in which you, "Let go of all associations, and put all affairs aside." (Fukanzazengi)

In the Sutta-Nipata , Buddha said, "Make yourself your refuge, walk in the world and be unchained from everything." Dogen wrote in Genjokoan, "To study Buddhism is to study the self." Without being pulled every which way through comparing yourself with others, settle down to the true self. According to Buddha's teaching, this is the essential way of pacifiying the mind. It is the purest zazen.

Sawaki Rôshi:

Sit firmly in the place beyond any question of whether you are great or not.



Sawaki Rôshi:

Nowadays, young gangsters and hoodlums often say, "My circumstances were bad," as an excuse when they commit a crime for which they are arrested. What kind of circumstances are good or bad? What a pity if, even though you are a human being, you are not aware of the true self. That is a really bad circumstance!

Uchiyama Rôshi:

When Sawaki Roshi was five years old, his mother died. When he was eight years old, his father died. He was then adopted by Bunkichi Sawaki. Bunkichi paper-lantern making as a cover, but was really a professional gambler. Soon after Sawaki Roshi started living with his new parents, his stepfather asked him to watch out for the police. Tough as he was, Saikichi (Sawaki Roshi's name as a layman) was amazed by that. His home was on a back street in the red light district.

When he returned home from the Russo-Japanese war because of a nearly fatal wound, Sawaki Roshi had found that his stepmother, who had been a prostitute, had gone crazy. She was tied up and smeared with her own shit. His stepfather had stayed out to gamble, so he stayed with a neighbor. Later his stepfather came and said to him, "Your mom has gone crazy and I'm broke. What shall I do? Give me some money!" Even though he grew up in such an environement, Sawaki Roshi lived his life only for the sake of the buddha-dharma. Anecdotes like the one related above are an expression of his impatience with the young people of today.

At the same time, they have limitless value as a warning to most of us because we feel bound by the circumstances of our personal lives.


The production of sutras

Sawaki Rôshi:

The person who has left home must create his own life.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

This was one of his favorite sayings. The "homeless life" was his creation. Preaching the dharma by using colloquial in profound and inventive ways instead of using Buddhist technical terms was his own uniques style. But as his disciple, if I merely imitate his life or only repeat his sayings, I will not be following his teaching. If I am to be his true disciple, I must go beyond him and create my own way of life and express Buddhism in my own words. So, I can't be satisfied by only repeating or explaining his remarks. He often said, "All Buddhist scriptures are only footnotes to Zazen." I want to continue to practice Zazen even more intensely than I did before his death. I also want to describe the meaning of Zazen in a language that is intelligible to modern mena and women.

Buddhism has become stagnent becuase monks and scholars only expound the old Buddhist scriptures. No one produces sutras for our age. For several centuries around the time of christ, the extensive Mahayana buddhist scriptures were produced by "Zazen-men." they were responsible for the rise of a vivid Mahayana Buddhism. I would like this to be a new age for the production of Mahayan Buddhist scriptures. Religion sinks and loses its vitalty in mere exposition and maintenence of the pre-established religious order. Only when each and everyone of us seeks the reality of ourselves for ourselves and responsibley creates our own life, will religion be a real scource of transformation in this age.


Group paralysis

Sawaki Rôshi:

When a person is alone, he's not so bad. When a group is formed, paralysis occurs, and people become so confused that they cannot judge what is right and wrong. Some people go into a group situation on purpose, just to experience group paralysis, even paying a fee. Often people advertise in order to bring people together for some political or spiritual purpose and only create group paralysis. Buddhsit practitioners keep some distance from society, not to escape from it, but to avoid paralysis.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

In Buddhism, the problem of delusion is often mentioned. The importance of the various forms of delusion has differed from one period to another. In ancient India, the biggest delusion was thought to be sex, so Buddhist practitioners tried hard to repress their sexual desires.

Dogen Zenji said, "Attachment to fame is worse than violating one of the precepts," and he regarded chasing after fame and wealth as the worst form of delusion because in his day, many Buddhist preist in Nara, and on Mts Koya and Hiei competed with each other for fame and wealth.

Practitioners must be aware of the delusions of sexual desire and chasing after fame and wealth. But by coining the term "group paralysis" Sawaki Roshi has pointed out a major delusion of modern times. Today men and women live their lives relying on groups and organizations and simply drift along in them without forming any real roots. Buddhism is the practice of waking up from all forms of delusion, of opening the "clear eyes of the self".


What is happiness?

Sawaki Rôshi:

Once a horse and a cat had a discussion about what happiness is. I hear that they could not reach a conclusion. Don't believe the fortune tellers: how you need to live your life isn't fixed!

Uchiyama Rôshi:

There are new religious cults that ask people on the street: "Are you really happy?!"
This is one of the weaknesses of human beings - we are always pursuing happiness, but we never get a firm grip on that happiness that lovers experience when they have just fallen in love. We can not make that trance of happiness last our whole life time. At least the "normal citizens" among us.
Therefore some, who find no response to this "Are you really happy?!" are persuaded by the: "If you join our religion, you will finally be really happy!"
Why are people not clever enough to ask back: "What kind of happiness are you talking about in the first place?"
If the answer is: "Happiness means to have money, have a position and be in good health" - than you would be at the bottom of unhappiness the instant you die. Because death will take your money, your position and your health from you. If you think about happiness in terms of feeling happy or unhappy, being lucky or unlucky, than not only a discussion between horse and cat, but even a discussion of yourself with yourself will finally reach no conclusion about what happiness really is.

Sawaki Rôshi:

Beauty is no guarantee for happiness. One beauty has been so popular with the guys that she's already had three kids who do not know who their fathers are.

You're in love with each other? Maybe not for your whole life. Some have loved each other so much that they tried to commit suicide together to be united in death. But one of the two survived, and fell in love with someone else shortly afterwards... Human beings truly pitiful.


Human mass production

Sawaki Rôshi:

The problem starts with the education in school: People pass exams, collect points, get grades and have numbers. How stupid! What is a good person? What is a bad person? Are you good if your are good in school? Are you bad if you are bad in school? And what about all those idiots that are good in school?
The one who comes in last place is frustrated. He says, "life sucks", and spents the rests of his days in hate and anger. Thus his life really sucks!

Uchiyama Rôshi:

In night clubs the hostess who is most popular is the number one, and proud of it. But still, would she be save from falling into loneliness sooner or later? She is just that one human product on the shelf of that club that happens to sell for the highest price. But even though your price is high, once you discover that you are no more than a product, naturally you will feel lonely. Today, the schools seem to function as factories that produce humans. And the purpose of schools lies in raising the prices of these "human products". The purpose of going to elementary school is to go to a good junior high school, the purpose of junior high being to enter a good high school, which serves the purpose to qualify for university. And you go to university to get a good job. Thus you are riding on a belt conveyor on your way to be sold as a product to be consumed. What we see on the streets these days seems to me to be the protest of the teens against this "human mass production".
This protest of the teens represents another problem, but saying that "life sucks" and therefore leading a life that really sucks is an even greater problem.

Sawaki Rôshi:

To study originally meant to find out about one's own life.
Today study just gets you a licence that gets you a job.


Mob psychology

Sawaki Rôshi:

Mob psychology seems so strange to me. If people don't know anything they'd better not say anything. People do things, say things, an hang on to others, without any convictions of their own. They don't know themselves at all. This is ukiyo, the floating world.

Although you think you did a brave deed in trying circumstances, if you did it imitating others, it cannot be called a truely brave deed.

Do not lose your head in distracting circumstances. Don't be intoxicated in an intoxicating atmosphere. This is the only true wisdom. Do not be won over to any idea, or "ism", or any orginization. Have nothing to do with the big fool called "human being."

Uchiyama Rôshi:

The recent trouble at Waseda University is a good example. I myself was a student at Waseda during a strike in 1931, and I wactched the whole process of the student movement from within. I can appreciate how easily people can become intoxicated in such an atmosphere. Next time however, instead of passing around pamphlets, they should put big banners on the clock tower that read:
And they should demostrate while looking at those banners.

Sawaki Rôshi:

To do zazen is to look at the world anew after being in hibernation.

It is best not to anything but zazen. If you do something else, maybe the devil made you do it.


The vouge

Sawaki Rôshi:

Often a kid does things by blindly following others. When his friend eats a potato, he wants to eat one. If his friend wants candy, he wants some. When someone he knows gets a kintama-bue (a bamboo whistle with a balloon attached to one end), he begs his parents, "Please buy a kintama-bue for me." And he is not always a kid.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

At the time that Dakkochans (a type of plastic doll) were in fashion, I read a letter in the readers' column of the newspaper. It said, "Because my daughter wanted to have a Dakkochan , we went to buy one at a department store. We had to stand in line, but they sold out while we waited our turn. We have a very disappointed daughter. Please produce many dolls for the girls so that everyone who wants one can get one."

It was really a stupid letter, but I found it interesting because it expresses an attitude that is so common these days. I remember the letter exactly; the mother complained as if she were weeping. Dakkochans would soon go out of fashion and no one would pay anymore attention to them, but for her, being behind the times was a fate worse than death. Similarly, parents think that in order to go to a first class primary school, their children must go to a first class kindergarten, so they stand in line in order to obtain admission (acceptance is based on the order of arrival.) Kyoiku-mama wants her children to play the piano, so they go into debt to buy one.

By following the fads of the day in buying things, many people find their lives worth living. First, three kinds of electric appliances; next a camera; after that a new car; and then an air conditioner. "Grow up a little" is my immediate response.


The hallucination caused by quantity

Sawaki Rôshi:

Because modern religious groups develop on a large scale, many people eventually think that these institutions represent true religion. A large number of believers does not make a religion true. If large numbers are good, the number of ordinary people in the world is immense. People often try to do things by forming groups and outnumbering the opposition. But they make themselves stupid in this way. Forming a party is a good example of group paralysis. To stop being in group paralysis and to become the self which is only the self, is the practice of zazen.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

No matter how many coal cinders there are, they are just coal cinders. But if a huge amount appears before them, people will be impressed by the volume and think it's significant. People mistake quantity for quality. Some people, understanding mob psychology and taking advantage of it might say, "Let's form a group, organize, build a huge temple and become rich and powerful."

True religion does not cater to human desires for money, fame social position, or health. To lead a life based on religious insight is to deeply examine the universal human ideal, realize it within oneself, and live it moment by moment. If something mistakenly referred to as religion spreads everywhere by flattering the desires of the masses, it shouldn't be called a world religion. We must see it as a heresy prevailing over the whole world like an epidemic. A religion that honestly examines the universal human ideal and shows human beings how to realize it can be called a world religion, even if only one, or half a person devotes his life to it.



Sawaki Rôshi:

When Hojo's troops attacked Masashige Kusunoki's Chihaya castle, it was said that fallen warriors of the Hojo Clan were praised by their friends as they met "glorious death" on the battlefield:
" A man lays down his life in vain for the sake of fame,
why doesn't he give up clinging to life for the sake of the Dharma?"

With the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), we enlarged Japanese territory and annexed Korea. We believed that it really happened. But when we lost World War Two, we lost everything and tuely understood that we had only incurred the enimity of other countries.

People often ask about loyalty, but I wonder if they know the direction of their loyalty and their actions. I myself was a soilder during the Russo-Japanese War and fought hard on the battlefield. But since we had lost what we had gained, I can see that what we did was useless. There is absolutely no need to wage war.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

Because Sawaki Roshi fought in the Russo-Japanese War, his words are not only for others, but also for himself, as self-reflection. We who were educated before World War Two were taught that Japan wa the greatest country in the world and absolutely righteous in all its actions and that we would obtain personal immortality if we were faithful to it. We really believed it. After the war, most Japanese could see that it was not true, and some of them reacted against nationalism.

When we reflect upon our past and think about our future, we should question not only loyalty to Japan but loyalty to any nation. Whichever country you are devoted to, eventually it will only be a page in the book of history. "If the troops win, their side is called loyal; if the troops lose, their side is called a 'rebel'." The important thing is to have a clear-eyed view of the self and to behave sanely and soberly.

Sawaki Rôshi:

What is the true self? It is brilliantly transparent, like a deep blue sky, and there is no gap between the true self and all sentient beings.


Good old opinions

Sawaki Rôshi:

Some opinions are also past their prime. What parents teach their children are usually these outdated opinions. "What is good is good, what is bad is bad..."

When greens are going to seed, you can not eat them any more. The same is true for our ideas: We have to see things with fresh eyes!

Often people tell us: "This is important!" But what is really important? Nothing is really important. When you die, you have to let go of everything. Even those national treasures in Kyôto or Nara will not last forever. We might as well burn them down.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

Often people tell me about the latest book written by some famous professor: "That is a good book. Did you read it?"
When I ask them though if they had understood what is written in that book, they tell me: "No, not really..."
The Japanese seem to have a very humble idea of themselves: If they read a book by a famous professor, they suppose that it must be a good book, and if they can not understand it, it must be their own fault. Also the people who lined up all night before the book stores after the war, just to buy a copy of those really poor written philosophical works of Nishida Kitarô, must have thought that it was their own fault that they could not understand them. Some of you might be shocked about Sawaki Rôshi's saying that we might as well burn down the national treasures. He thinks about them as follows:

Sawaki Rôshi:

For what purpose were Kinkakuji and Hôryûji and all of the other old temples all build? Certainly not for monks to practice Buddhism there. Just to raise coward monks there like cattle or sheep. Therefore, it is no surprise that there are monks who set fire to Kinkakuji or Enryakuji, and the same can be said about Ginkakuji.


Human advancement

Sawaki Rôshi:

After all their efforts, racking their brains as intensely as possible, people today have comeback to a deadlock. Human beings are idiots. We set ourselves up as wise men and subsequently do foolish things.

In spite of scientific advancement, human beings haven't come to greatness.

Since the dawn of history, human beings have constantly fought with each other. No matter how big or small a war is, the root cause is our minds, which have a tendency to make us growl at each other.

You should not forget that modern scientific culture has developed on the level of our lowest consciousness.

"Civilization" is always the talk of the world. But civilization and culture are nothing but the collective elaboration of illusory desires. No matter how many wrinkles of illusory desire you have on your brain, from the point of view of Buddhism, they will never bring about meaningful advancement for human beings. "Advancement" is the talk of the world, but what direction are we going in?

Uchiyama Rôshi:

People today are dazzled by advances in science and technology and take human advancement to be identical with the advances of science. Because the advances of science are significant primarily within the contexts of scientific disciplines, we must clearly distinguish them from human advancement. Arnold Toynbee said, "Our modern scientific culture increased the speed of Adam's orginal sin with explosive energy. That is all. And we never released ourselves from orginal sin." Real human advancement would release us from the mind of the lowest consciousness, which says, "I hope to make easy gain. In order to do that, I must struggle with others."


One's own opinion

Sawaki Rôshi:

Human beings are not the same. Our consciousness is our own individual possession.

Everyone just sees the world from their own hole. They drag their opinion and thoughts along with them; that's why there is so much trouble in this world.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

Usually we consider ourselves to be very important. We take it for granted that our own thoughts are the best measure of things and judge others' activities and the conditions around us as to whether they are good or bad. When things do not go well according to our judgement, we become angry , get into trouble, and carry around bad feelings afterwards. At times like these, if you can see that this world does not exist only for you, and that your evaluation of things is not absolute, you will be able to breathe more freely and need not cause trouble for others.

Prince Shotoku (574-622 A.D.) expressed it skillfully in the Constitution of Seventeen Articles. He said: "If you are right, then others are wrong; if others are right, then you are wrong. You are not right all the time; others are not right all the time. We are all nothing but ordinary people." This means not only others but you are also just an ordinary person.


Collecting food and hatching eggs

Sawaki Rôshi:

Everyone steeps himself in his own life or lives, blindly believing that there must be something to his daily activity. But in reality, a human being's life does not differ from a swallow's, the males collecting food and the females hatching eggs.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

Usually we consider ourselves to be very important. We take it for granted that our own thoughts are the best measure of things and judge others' activities and the conditions around us as to whether they are good or bad. When things do not go well according to our judgement, we become angry , get into trouble, and carry around bad feelings afterwards. At times like these, if you can see that this world does not exist only for you, and that your evaluation of things is not absolute, you will be able to breathe more freely and need not cause trouble for others.

This is the season swallows are flying about. People working in the shadow of tall buildings in the city probably miss seeing swallows hatching in the spring. It's a lovely site to see them during spring and summer, isn't it? Some people just get by in life, live from day to day, and never see their lives as a whole. Kobo-Daishi (774-835, the founder of the Shingon Sect) called them Ishoteiyoshin , a flock of stray sheep.

Sawaki Rôshi:

Take a look sometime at the face of a dog who's just had sex. He just stares into space with strangely empty eyes. It's exactly the same with people – in the beginning they work themselves up into a frenzy, and in the end there's nothing at all.

A man who understands nothing marries a woman who understands nothing, and everyone says, “Congratulations!” Now that's something I cannot understand.

In a part of Manchuria, the carts are pulled by huge dogs. The driver hangs a piece of meat in front of the dog's nose, and the dog runs like crazy to try to get at it. But of course he can't. He's only thrown his meat after the cart has finally reached its destination. Then in a single gulp, he swallows it down.
It's exactly the same with people and their pay checks. Until the end of the month they run after the salary hanging in front of their noses. Once the salary is paid, they gulp it down, and they're already off: running after the next payday.


Calculating the difference

Sawaki Rôshi:

During World War Two, I visited a colliery and went into a coal mine in Kyushu. Like the colliers, I put on a hat with a lamp and went down in an elevator. For some time, I thought the elevator went down steadily. Then I started to fell as if it were going up. I shined my light in the coal shaft and realized, "Oh! It's still going down." When the elevator starts going down, you actually feel that it's going down, but once the speed becomes fixed, it's possible to feel as if it were going up. That's the other side of the balance. In the ups and downs of life we are deceived by the difference in balance.

Saying, "I've got Satori!" is only feeling the difference in the balance. Saying, "I'm deluded!" is only feeling another difference in the balance. To say it's delicious or it tastes terrible, to be rich, to be poor, all are just feeling about the differences in the balance.

In most cases, common sense only shows a difference in the balance.

A human being puts his "I" into everything without knowing it. "Oh, that was good!" he sometimes says. What is good? It's just good for him, that's all.

The reason that we human beings are often exhausted is that we do things with personal profit in mind.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

Usually, we are terribly concerned about luck. Are there really such things as good luck and bad luck? There aren't. There are only calculating measures. Only when expect to make things profitable for ourselves, is it possible to feel that we didn't make it. Only when we compete with others, is it possible to feel the difference in the balance as loss.
True religion takes no notice of the human desire to make things profitable for ourselves or our calculating measurement. If we throw away our ordinary expectations and take an attitude of settling down on whichever side of the balance we fall, it is right there that a truly peaceful life unfolds. Doing zazen is to stop being an ordinary person.


With a depressed expression

Sawaki Rôshi:

What is the meaning of complaining with a depressed face: "I have no money, nothing to eat, only debts..."? It is because you are stingy that you think that you should have more fun and a happier life, and that is why you always complain about your misery.

You are not even hungry, still you complain that you have nothing to eat! Thus you will become really hungry. Everyone gets fooled by words. Names and words are the cause of our confusion.

Also beggars laugh, and millionairs cry. So what is all the excitement about?

Uchiyama Rôshi:

Seven or eight years ago a man about 30 years old visited Antaiji one evening with a depressed expression on his face: "I have nothing to eat."
We were just having some rice soup for dinner, therefore I invited him to eat with us first and then talk afterwards. His reply struck me as strange: "I have nothing to eat, but I am not really hungry."
When I talked with him after dinner, I learned that he was living with his wife and his mother, and had a job, although the company he was working for was not too big. Still, he had an income and was certainly not starving. Therefore I told him: "Do not say that you have nothing to eat when you are not even hungry! You should rather say that your income is not enough to gratify your vanity."
He wound up staying with us for one week, but finally he returned back home, saying happily: "At home, my life is still better than your life here."
The life here in the temple must have struck him as really poor. But that is alright. Unless you really have nothing to eat, you will be happier if you life your life without a depressed expression on your face.


Our inertial lives

Sawaki Rôshi:

A strange creature, the human being; groping in the dark with an intelligent look.

Human beings strive only to avoid boredom.

A lot of things in this world attract you. But once you do, or get them, they're worthless.

There are people who never find their own way in life.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

If I broach the subject of the essence of your life, you might feel as if some old, moldy clothes were being given to you. But when we reflect deeply on the essence of our own lives, we will realize that this is not an old, moldy subject, but our lives as we live them are. Why? Because we get up sheerly through inertia, eat breakfast through inertia, encounter our aquaintences through inertia, watch televison through inertia, read magazines through inertia, and go to work through inertia. We spend most of our time this way.
How do we find our lives worth living at all? We are always running after one thing or another so that we don't have to consider this question. When we play mah-jong, we find the significance of life in winning a game. When we go to a department store, we find the significance of life in shopping. If we can't afford to buy things, we find the significance of life in imaginig that we could. When we watch baseball or sumo wrestling, we find the significance of life in hoping our favorite athletes will win. These activites are merely diversions. No matter how clamourous the times in which we live, we should sincerely reflect on the meaning of life.


Religion is life

Sawaki Rôshi:

The most important question of religion has to be how we live our own lives.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

One of the mysteries of 20th century Japan is that although murder and crime and erotic scenes are allowed on television and kids run into posters showing nude girls on the street - and nobody is worried about that - at the same time it is forbidden by law to teach religion in schools.
Maybe the reason is that people think that religion means the established sects, or superstition, or fanaticism. It is certainly true that if you confront an innocent child with one-sided doctrines, superstition or fanaticism, it will lead to great problems. Therefore one might say that it is a matter of course that the state prohibits that. But, on the other hand, when we realize that religion means to teach that which is most important in our lives, we have to be worried about the next generation that grows up in a society without any religious education, but is confronted with nudity and violence all day long. If things continue like this, we will face kids becoming ever more violent and destructive.
I hope that the time for religion being taught at schools as "the most important thing in life" will soon come.

Sawaki Rôshi:

Religion means to be not fooled by anything, to live one's life completely anew.

Religion must not be a word. Religion is life, religion must be living activity. Worshipping the sutras alone is not enough. Religion has to manifest freely in all activities of life, in all directions, every time, everywhere.



Sawaki Rôshi:

If you have no money, you are in trouble. But it's good to know that there are more important things than money. If you have no sexual desire, something is wrong. But it's good to know that there are more important things than sexual desire.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

If I were super-rich, I would by everything. If I gave a lot of money to neighbors and people around me, they would greet me with smiles. When someone is in trouble, in most cases they are suffering from a shortage of cash. I would give them money unsparingly and solve their problems. If I got sick, I would go to one of those hospitals furnished like aluxury hotel and hire several beautiful, young nurses. I could recieve medical treatment while feasting my eyes. When I got old, I could make people think that I was a kind and trustworthy person. I could enjoy a fabulous second youth. I could act as a peacemaker saying, "Hey, I'll buy the Vietnam War!" and resolve the conflict by giving both sides a fat lot of money.

There is always disagreement in the areas of economics, politics, and philosophy. Although they all seem to be very complicated, most problems can be solved with money, if we have enough of it. But when you believe it is possible to solve any problem with money, you become totally dependent on it. Unfortunately, the problem of the self can't be solved with money.

Once I met a man who had inherited a large fortune from his parents, but who was so worried about losing it that he became neurotic. We read that in Sweden there are many people who commit suicide out of despair, even though the country ensures a livelihood for all its citizens and has no problems with its economy. When people look into themselves, they do not find their lives at all settled.


Everyone is naked

Sawaki Rôshi:

To wander from place to place in this transitory world is to pursue "name". A person is born naked. But then he is given a name, registered, and covered with clothes, and a nipple is stuffed into his mouth, and so on. When he grows up you say, "He is great, strong, clever, rich." You find consolation only in words. In fact, everyone is just naked.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

Rousseau said,
"Even emperors, nobles and great, wealthy men were born naked and poor, and at the end of their lives they must die naked and poor."
This is absolutely true. For a short while between birth and death, human beings put on various and complicated clothes. Some wear beautiful costumes, some rags, some prision uniforms. There are the clothes of status and class, of joy and anger, of sadness and comfort, of delusion and enlightenment. We unwittingly take these clothes to be out true selves, and devote ourselves to obtaining, by any means, a satisfactory wardrobe.

As long as we live, we must wear some kind of uniform. I hope that we don't forget that our true selves are naked, and remembering these naked selves, we look once more at our clothed lives and put them in order. In the Heart Sutra it says, "No birth, no extinction, no defilement, no purity." This is the true, naked self, which has cast off even the clothes of birth and death and enlightenment and delusion.

Sawaki Rôshi:

When a woman dies, it doesn't make any difference whether she is beautiful or ugly. Is a beauty's skull superior to an ugly woman's? That has nothing to do with truth.


Given that I will die

Sawaki Rôshi:

A shower
in the middle of a fight
about irrigation.

After a long drought, they fight over water for the rice fields. In the middle of the fight, a shower hits them. Since the fight about irrigation depends on the condition of dry weather, if it rains, there's no problem. There will be no difference between a beautiful and an ugly woman when they become eighty years old. The original self is empty and clear.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

Because the fight about irrigation depends on the condition of dry weather, if it rains, there's no problem. Let's see: there is the possibility that if I go out now, I will have a car accident that will finish me off. If I were rundown by a car and knocked out, my thoughts, "I want this, I want that," my frustrated anger. "Oh....that fool!" or my longing for a certain woman would all be resolved quite spontaneously, like a shower in the middle of a fight about irrigation. As long as we are alive, we will have problems which are based on the assumption that we will continue to live. But it is also important to look at these problems with the assumption that in the next moment, we will be in a coffin. Then we can live in a more leisurely fashion, knowing that we don't have to get stuck in our own opinions, gritting our teeth and furrowing our brows. In a word, zazen is to look back on this world as if you were already in your grave.

Sawaki Rôshi:

Imagine thinking of your life after your death. You see it didn't matter.


Ghosts and the power of suggestion

Sawaki Rôshi:

People often ask me if ghost exist. Anyone who thinks about such matters is a ghost.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

Sawaki Roshi always expressed himself unequivocally. As long as you don't believe in ghosts, there are no ghosts, but once you become confused to whether ghost exist or not, you become a ghost yourself because of your confusion.

When someone believes a spiritualist who tells him that he is haunted by an ancestor's soul, or that they can call up the soul of a dead person and solve all his problems, he becomes firghtened, is swindled out of his money, and loses his wits. One who can't walk a straight line in such matters really is a ghost. Moreover, a person who is easily influenced by the power of suggestion is unreliable. When he gets sick he gets sick and his condition deteriorates, he becomes really foolish. Even after his body has recovered from the illness, he still suffers, thinking that his doctor has given up on him. And he can't regain his wits because of the suggestion that he is sick. Under these conditions, he can easily be influenced by a charismatic religious leader and after a mesmerizing prayer, incanation, or laying on of hands believes that he has been cured. Anyone who is easily manipulated is a ghost.

Sawaki Rôshi:

People often say that they saw the spirit of a dead person or that they dreamed of so and so when he was dying. It's just another detail in the vast landscape of samsara.


In the family

Sawaki Rôshi:

Too often, the home is nothing more than a place where husband and wife, parents and children, spoil one another and bind each other up in fatal ties.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

I don't think I'm qualified to give advice to other people, but this world is a strange place. I say that because there are many people who come to me for advice about their familt problems. They open their hearts to me and tell me about their home lives, sometimes travelling a great distance only for that purpose. Since this is a temple, they feel safe here, thinking that what they say will not leak out to others. I have been listening to them one by one for a number of years, frequently hearing the same story. People often get married only out of mutual sexual attraction. Although they reach fifty and their sexual passion diminishes, they treat each other like strangers or even hate each other and share a disordered house. They want to divorce, but cannot, because of the opinions of others, or their children, or their economic situation.

Consider the relationship between parents and children. No matter how much they hate each other, they are "similar figures" and when the corners of similar figures come into contact, there can be trouble: passionate mother and passionate daughter, stubborn father and stubborn son, greedy parent couple and greedy young couple, unfeeling parents and unfeeling children. It would be good if they could realize they have horns pointing in the same direction and sympathize with one another. If they continually butt one another, its just endless trouble. In order to create a home that is truly a place of rest, consideration, and love, we should respect each other's feelings and opinions, reflect upon oursleves, and make an effort to live in harmony with others.


My life

Sawaki Rôshi:

Human beings don't seem to wake up unless they are compelled to compete with each other for a prize. It would not be strange to run a race if we were ostriches; it would not be strange to swim a race if we were fur seals; it would not be strange to scramble for a ball if we were kittens.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

Spectator sports are popular now. Some people watch games all the time and make a big deal out of them. They hardly have any time to reflect on themselves. I wonder about them. If they say that it's just entertainment, I agree with them. But entertaiment, like everything else must be judged must be judged form the perspective of a constant questioning of the value of the content of our lives.

Sawaki Rôshi:

Because their bored, in order to kill time, people are always agonizing , falling in love, drinking wine, reading novels, or watching sports; they are always doing things randomly and living from hand to mouth. For them this world is ukiyo (floating or transitory world). It is the place were people are always wobbling, window shopping, and going by detours.

Everywhere in this world, people feel bored, so they go to war brandishing deadly weapons as if they were children's toys, saying, "Right Wing" or "Left Wing." They do so because they think there must be something to it. But there isn't. Only the grave waits for us.

Human beings boast that Man is the lord of creation, but in fact human beings don't even know how to take care of themselves and watch sports or pursue other vapid forms of entertainment to avoid facing themselves and then justify it all by saying that they are just like everyone else.

When children nag about something, their parents scold them and tell them they are being unreasonable. These parents are also being unreasonable. This is Mumyo, ignorance of the true nature of existence, one of the twelve links in the chain of dependent origination.


What makes you so attractive?

Sawaki Rôshi:

What are we so worried about all the time? If we don't take care, we will be wasting our time trying to catch human delusions.

Humans are childish: They just want money, don't want to become sick, want to be beautiful - and that is enough for them.

What have you ever thought about except eating and fucking?

We are always fooled by our bodies and minds, that is why we do not see clearly.

Uchiyama Rôshi:

Recently I overheard a conversation between two ladies saying that "a man without money is only half as attractive". If women say that, the reason might be that men today actually are men that lose half of their attractiveness if they have no money. I even felt sorry for these women who do not know any other men like that. Men have to make an effort and stop just being raised like cattle or sheep.
But this concerns not only the relation between men and women: The question is more fundamental. If we ask what the other half of a man's attractiveness was, the answer would probably be: his penis. Thus people's lives today consist of nothing but money and sex.
But shouldn't both men and women posses more attractiveness than just sex appeal and the attractiveness of money? I think they should be attractive as human beings, attractive enough to cause a real "attraction" between their ways of life.

Sawaki Rôshi:

You do not have to save every penny to live good in this world.


Grades in ethics

Sawaki Rôshi:

Someone asked a mathematician if the number "1" really exists in mathematics. The answer was that mathematicians "suppose" that the number "1" exists, and then continue further basing their work on that initial supposition. In Buddhism it is different: There is no "1". In the sutras it says: "The 2 exists only because of the 1, and the 1 does not exist independently either." Or: "1 is all, all is 1."

Uchiyama Rôshi:

Calculators help us to calculate accurately, but when I got the bill for my health insurance last year, the numbers were surprisingly high. When I asked the people in the office to check once more, they found out that they had input one or two zeros too much at the end of the numbers. Thus the caluculator calculated pretty accurately - just how absent minded these office workers can be.
The other day a junior high school teacher paid me a visit and told me: "We have to give our students grades for their ethic views and sense of responsibilty. I do not feel so good about this, what do you think?" Knowing nothing about the schools of today, I was very surprised to hear this. I understand that the natural sciences can be expressed in numbers, but can you express the worth of a human being's life in that way? We should rather give grades to those in the Ministry of Education for their ethic views and sense of responsibility. I think their grades could not be worse.
Anyway, I told the teacher, who had no choice but follow the instructions of the ministry: "I would give all of my students 90 points (out of 100, because in Zen it is said that 80 or 90 percent should be preferred to 100). And apart from that, I would try to teach my students what responsibility really means, encouraging them as well as myself to develop as much sense of responsibility as we can".

Sawaki Rôshi:

It has to be this way, but it can be anyway. It does not have to be any special way, but it has to be the best way possible.




Kusen de Maître Kodo Sawaki

Le corps que revet la riziere du bonheur

Le corps que revet la riziere du bonheur
« Bruine et rosée, brume et nuages vetent notre corps. »
Ce vetement est le kesa. Précédemment, nous avons vu que la nature du bouddha était la perle des défenses et nous découvrons maintenant duc c'est aussi le kesa.
Un jour, un unsui, « nuage et eau », m'a demandé ce que signifie le kesa. Je lui ai répondu : « Le kesa, c'est quelque chose qui n'est pas clair. » Il m'a regardé avec (les yeux ronds, l'air (le penser que je disais n'importe quoi. En vérité, le kesa est bien vague, tant par sa couleur cassee, couleur de ruine ou de haillon, indéfinissable, que par ses dimensions qui ne répondent a aucune regle précise. Couleur et dimensions sont sans aspect extérieur. C'est pour cette raison qu'il a été appelé « le vetement (le la riziere (lu bonheur sans limites ». On a dit que celui de Shakyamuni mesurait dix pieds, un pouce et celui de Maitreya mille pieds. Ni grand ni petit, il est sans aspect. Vraiment tres étrange.
Le kesa est le symbole de la substance de la Loi du Bouddha, vetement de « bruine et rosé, brume et nuages ». Le ciel et la terre, l'univers entier ne sont qu'un seul cl meme kesa. En dehors du kesa, aucun monde n'existe. On ne tombe pas en enfer, on ne monte pas au paradis, on ne va nulle part, on n'arrive
de nulle part. II n'y a qu'un seul kesa. Le plan des rues de Kyoto et de Nara ressemble a un kesa. « Bruine et rosée, brume et nuages vetent notre corps. » : c'est le vetement que l'homme se doit de porter.
Le prince Shotoku qui a introduit le bouddhisme au Japon portait le kesa pour administrer les affaires de l'état et pour commenter les trois sutras du Mahayana. L'empereur Shomu le revetait aussi pour gouverner et plusieurs générations d'empereurs ont eu foi d:ms le kesa. II en l'ut de meme dans le monde des guerriers, Kikuchi Taketoki, Takeda Shingen et Uesugi Kenshin ont bénéficié des vertus infinies du kesa. Porter le kesa et transmettre le kesa est le bonheur supreme de l'homme. Celui qui pense que ce n'est qu'un sac de formalisme étriqué est le jouet de son mauvais kanna. Par contre, on
peut dire duc celui qui se réjouit de le porter a sa bonne part de bonheur. C'est Daichi Zenji qui a le mieux exprimé le grand bonheur que procure le kesa de l'univers entier « Je suis heureux dans mon kesa, Homme tranquille je possede l'univers. Je demeure ou je m'en vais, a mon gré, La brise pure reconduit les nuages blancs. » Et dans un autre poeme « Ou qu'il soit, l'escargot est chez soi quand il meurt. >, Aucun monde n'existe en dehors du kesa. Lorsque « bruine et rosée, brume et nuages vetent notre corps », nous, sommes, tranquilles- Porter le kesa. c'est trouver la paix de l'esprit et du corps.



Extrait des commentaires sur le Shodoka par Kodo Sawaki
Traduction du japonais de Mme Janine Coursin
Le Chant de l'éveil : Le Shôdôka de Yôka Daishi commenté par un maître zen, éd. Albin Michel, 1999

Sans forme n'est ni vide ni non-vide. Mais la véritable réalité du Bouddha, Le clair miroir de l'esprit réfléchit tout, sans distinction. Infiniment vaste, limpide etbrillant, il pénetre l'univers.

Sans forme n'est ni vide ni non-vide
Sans forme inclut forme et forme inclut sans forme : l'une et l'autre cohabitent sans gene. Il en va de meme pour aimer et ne pas aimer, macrocosme et microcosme, le bien et le mal ; c'est pourquoi, quand on se demande ou est le bien, ou est le mal, on peut se dire qu'ils ne sont pas loin l'un de l'autre : ils appartiennent a notre condition humaine. Quand on ne les considere plus comme des opposés, on saisit le corps du Bouddha, son essence, l'ultime réalité

La véritable réalité du Bouddha
C'est le satori du Bouddha.
Dogen Zenji a écrit ce poeme : « Fleurs, feuilles pourpres d'automne, nuages blancs d'hiver, leurs couleurs illusoires m'enchantent. » Dans le paysage du satori, il admire a la fois les couleurs des illusions et du satori. Il les admire d'autant plus qu'elles sont fondamentalement vides et sans forme. Il est bon de voir les beautés de la nature et toutes choses sous leur double aspect, ils sont si différents.

Le clair miroir de l'esprit réfléchit tout sans distinction
Le miroir de notre espritne discrimine pas, il n'aime ni ne déteste ceci ou cela et pour lui, tout est lumineux jusqu' au tréfonds des profondeurs abyssales, sans qu'il rencontre jamais d'obstacle.
Autrefois en Chine, il y avait un moine dénommé Gensha no Shibi. Un jour qu'il partait en pelerinage, il se déchira le pied en butant contre une pierre. Il ressentit une vive douleur et pensa : « D'ou vient cette douleur puisque mon corps n'existe pas ? » A cet instant, il eut le satori
« J'ai compris ! Les deux sont vides et sans forme ! » Il fit demi-tour sur-le-champ et rentra au monastere. Son maître Hôgen, le voyant revenir, s'étonna : « Pourquoi ne fais-tu pas tes visites ? » A cette époque, le pelerinage de monastere en monastere pour visiter les maîtres faisait partie de la pratique. La réponse de Gensha fut tres surprenante : « Bodhidharma n'est pas venu en Chine, le deuxieme patriarche Eka n'est pas allé aux Indes. »
< Explique-toi, parle > , dit Hôgen. Gensha répondit « L'univers entier est une perle brillante. > Il voulait dire que la myriade des choses était comme une unique perle, la perle étant le symbole de l'Un. La perle étant lumineuse et transparente comme du cristal, il est inutile d'aller chercher ailleurs quelque chose puisqu'il n'y a rien.
Il est écrit dans le Kegon-kyo : « L'ultime réalité inclut tout > et aussi : « Un est le multiple, le multiple est Un > , et dans l'Hokyo Zan Mai : « Quand tu vois dans le miroir, l'image est exactement comme toi : elle n'est pas toi et pourtant, elle est bien toi. » Cette phrase d'une grande subtilité signifie que bonheur est malheur et richesse est pauvreté : l'un est inclus dans l'autre. Tu es moi et je suis toi : nous ne faisons qu'un. L'un et l'autre cohabitent sans gene dans l'unité. Tu es moi sans etre moi, comme mon image dans le miroir.
A propos de miroir, je me souviens de ce poeme de l'époque ancienne : « L'image que me renvoie le miroir en silence boude quand je boude et se fâche quand je me fâche. » Il n'y a pas que le miroir qui réfléchit notre image, les hommes le font aussi. Lorsque je me mets en colere, mon interlocuteur change de visage et son oeil devient mauvais ; quand je souris, je reçois un sourire en retour, comme si un courant électrique passait entre nous. Ceux qui ne comprennent pas ce principe ont une vie constipée. Par contre, ceux qui l'ont saisi acquierent le mystérieux pouvoir de deviner tout ce que pense l'interlocuteur. Le monde devient transparent comme une boîte de cristal
Ce que j'appelle « moi » contient l'univers entier.

Infiniment vaste, limpide et brillant, il pénetre l'univers
Comment un guerrier cerné par des ennemis a-t-il pu a lui seul tailler en pieces trente personnes, et meme cinquante aux dires de certains ? Quelle force lui a permis de réaliser un tel exploit ? La raison est qu'il n'a mis aucune cloison entre lui et les autres, il s'est ouvert a l'univers entier, il est devenu infiniment vaste, limpide et brillant, il a pénétré l'univers.



Zazen nous révele la nature vraie de la réalité

Zazen nous révele la nature vraie de la réalité. On éprouve aussitôt un besoin supérieur de la saisir. Or, la nature vraie de la réalité est de ne pas avoir de réalité.
D'un point de vue humain, cette réalité n'en est pas une. A notre époque, les hommes, disons les intellectuels habitués i1 passer des examens, capables de remplir une copie sur n'importe quel sujet, essaient bien de faire courir leur plume
pour en parler. Mais plus ils sollicitent la réalité plus elle se
Les hommes ne regardent que des choses d'hommes. Un poisson, lui, ne voit que son monde de poisson, un voleur voit des voleurs partout. On m'a raconté qu'un magistrat disait volontiers : « Pour moi n'importe qui ressemble a un
criminel. " Il disait sans doute vrai. B est normal que pour lui tout homme soit un coupable. Meme si on vénere un bouddha et que l'on est antiquaire, on estime sa valeur. " Combien ? Quel prix pourrai-je le vendre ? "
Un homme qui vient de voler quelque chose a peur et s'enfuit. Les policiers qui sel ancent a sa poursuite dévisagent les passants se demandant si le type qui est devant eux n'est pas le voleur. Ainsi, le poursuivant et le poursuivi marchent chacun dans des mondes différents. Voila pourquoi la réalité est si difficile a appréhender.
Découvrir la nature vraie de la réalité c'est embrasser d'un seul regard le panorama de l'univers. Il suffit pour cela de regarder par dessus les lunettes ou, encore mieux, de les ôter. Saisir l'univers d'un seul coup d'oeil n'est pas un probleme de quantité mais de qualité. Quand bien meme on évaluerait la distance du monde en mille milliards d'années lumiere, au-dela resterait encore l'inconnu. Dans le Sutra du Lotus, la durée de l'univers est estimée i; cinq cents cycles cosmiques. Infiniment grand, infiniment petit, le monde est illimité. Le vrai probleme n'est ni le temps ni l'espace, c'est l'essence de l'univers.
Voir la réalité de l'univers d'un seul regard, tout est la et seulement la, chacun pendant zazen peut réaliser cela.
Les etres humains ne sont rien d'autre, dans une vaste perspective biologique, que des champignons. Avec acharnement chacun fait des catégories du genre : un haut fonctionnaire, un riche, etc., mais nous ne sommes rien d'autre que des champignons nés d'un souffle. Nous sommes des champignons d'une nuit. En outre, ces champignons existent dans le monde du reve, rien n'est vrai. Les concepts que nous faisons ne sont rien que ce royaume du reve.
Dans les temps anciens, il n'y avait ni lunettes pour regarder le ciel ni rayon X. Rien de tout cela n'existait. Il fallait donc, par soi-meme, s'équiper d'yeux capables de bien voir sans l'aide de télescopes ou microscopes. Alors, un jour, pour la premiere fois, un oeil perçut la réralité dans sa totalité. Cet oeil extraordinairement perçant se vit lui-meme aussi bien que les autres. Il pénétrait le bonheur et aussi le malheur, et regardant toute chose en ce monde avec son oeil prodigieux, pour la premiere fois lui apparut un monde ou il n'existait rien.



Un homme comme Ryokan

Un homme comme Ryokan était un vrai moine, un moine d'un rang inférieur et Shakyamuni était pareil. Ils n'avaient pas besoin de devenir chefs de temple, et c'est parce qu'ils n'avaient besoin de rien qu'ils furent grands. Pourquoi ?

Parce qu'ils possédaient la chose unique qui ne peut etre ni brulée par le feu ni submergée par l'eau. Leur esprit était différent de ceux qui clament sans cesse : « Poussez pas, poussez pas », et qui se battent comme des enfants pour promouvoir leur carriere. Ceux-la, meme promus, restent pauvres. Un de rues amis qui travaille au quartier général du Zen m'a dit :
"D'étranges individus viennent me voir. De prime abord, ils paraissent nobles, mais ils ne font que se prosterner pour mendier des positions. C'est tout a fait répugnant. »
Le bouddhisme est devenu une chose bizarre, il dit
« La vie totale est la pensée de la non-pensée », mais cette non-pensée elle-meme est devenue un argument pour réussir ses affaires. En fait, on peut devenir n'importe quoi ! Aujourd'hui, ils disent
« Pratique, pratique », mais il y a toutes sortes de pratiques. II y a la pratique pour faire de l'argent et il y a la Voie du Bouddha. Parmi les voies, il y a celle des etres infernaux et celle des fantômes affamés. C'est dans la Voie du Bouddha que nous devons exceller et, c'est au Zen authentique que nous devons nous éveiller; pour s'éveiller au Zen du Tathagata, nous devons voir les zen inférieurs.

Tout ce que nous avons a faire, c'est affirmer la réalité, niais cela n'est pas facile lorsque l'homme et les phénomenes se font obstacle. Tout ce qui apparaît dans ce monde n'est alors qu'illusion, karma et habitude. Un voleur s'enfuit furtivement et le policier lancé a sa poursuite suspecte chacun d'etre le malfaiteur. Le chasseur et sa cible évoluent dans des mondes totalement différents. La réalité authentique est difficile a connaître. Affirmer cette réalité, c'est survoler l'univers entier et d'un seul regard embrasser toutes ses perspectives. C'est cela s'éveiller dans le bouddhisme.
Moi, la grande chance de ma vie fut de faire zazen avec ce corps qui aurait pu devenir celui d'une fripouille. Ce fut une chance aussi pour tout mon entourage et tous ceux que -j'aurais pu tromper et abuser. Tons f-urcnt sauvés lorsque heureusement je devins moine. Ma dévotion vivante a Bouddha est pour moi la posture de zazen et le contenu de cette posture de zazen est l'etre humain Sawaki. L'esprit fou et compliqué de Sawaki communique alors avec tous les etres sensibles, et c'est ainsi que zazen sauve l'humanité. Lorsqu'on affirme ainsi la réalité de la dévotion vivante a Bouddha, lorsque zazen et Sawaki sont en unité, c'est une vie entiere qui est achevée.
C'est cela la transmission authentique des Bouddhas et des patriarches : s'asseoir seulement. Plus que tonte technique humaine comme la haute illumination ou la prof-onde introspection, mieux vaut pratiquer, ce qui -pour l'homme - est inacceptable et non comptabilisable : ce zazen le plus profond, le plus pur et le plus authentique,
En bref, ici, je m'assois droit, ce zazen immense et illimité emplit l'espace et le temps.



C'est en mourant que vous pourrez vivre

Muju zenji a dit : « C'est en mourant que vous pourrez vivre. » Sans mourir ce monde ne peut pas mitre. Tant que l'etre humain vit, son monde n'est que celui de l'illusion. II pleure et il rit, il aime et il hait, il décide arbitrairement en ignorant tout de ce qu'est le bonheur et le malheur.
Le dharma authentique signifie retrouver notre esprit originel et chercher le royaume éternel et immortel. Une vie avec une naissance n'est qu'une vie de reve. II nous faut découvrir le monde qui pénetre le ciel et la terre, et pas le monde de nos illusions. Une vie d'éveil total, sans mort vers le futur, sans naissance vers le passé ; oublier tout et etre en continuité avec les bouddhas des trois temps et les générations des patriarches.
Zazen est la méthode qui affirme inébranlablement ce soi, c'est l'art superbe pour le soi de devenir luimeme. Tant qu'il ne le devient pas, nous ne faisons que jouer avec nos vieilles rengaines. La l'orme ou ces enfantillages cessent est zazou.

Ce soi ne peut pas etre remué. 11 est l'immobilité originelle. La louange et la critique ne peuvent pas le bouger. Un ne devient pas grand parce qu'on est admiré, ni méprisable parce qu'on est critiqué. Saisir cela, c'est devenir Bouddha, et zazen est l'état extremement froid de nos cerveaux enfiévrés.
II n'y a aucune raison pour qu'un riche soit une noble personne, et qu'un pauvre ne le soit pas. C'est pourquoi je dis clac chaque personne est absolue et je m'affirme en disant : je suis. Bien que les autres pensent : « Quelle espece de moine mendiant est-ce la ? », je respire avec mon nez et je n'emprunte les narines de personne. Bouddha ne souille pas le soi et le laisse aller en complete liberté.

II y a souvent des gens qui doutent de posséder eux aussi la nature de bouddha. Je leur dis toujour espece d'idiots, que me souillez-vous la ! Nous sommes tous au coeur meme de cette nature de bouddha, au centre meme de zazou. Quand vous faites zazen, le corps entier est en zazen, rien n'est plus évident. Si vous buvez de l'alcool, tout votre corps est ivre, jusque dans vos articulations, vos os, vus muscles et chaque recoin de vos cellules. C'est cela la doctrine définitive.
Demandez-vous plutôt : " Pourquoi suis-je né dans ce monde humain ? " Celui qui n'a pas d'aspiration a l'éveil répondra : " Pour faire des crottes. » Nous devons découvrir la tâche ultime de l'etre humain.
Par tous les moyens, laissez-moi ramener ce Sol charmé et chéri par le démon au soi qui est unité avec Bouddha. Cela ne peut etre une affaire privée. En pratiquant honnetement apparais l'esprit d'éveil et la priere d'are certifié par les trois trésors. Chacun revient ainsi a ce soi dans sa propre vie, tourne le bouton qui l'illumine et le protege résolument. Lorsque le soi est clairement affirmé, une main qui danse, un pied qui marche, un corps debout ou allongé sont l'existence entiere de la vie de Bouddha.

Un corps humain est mortel et par conséquent il est inutile de s'appuyer dessus. Mais pour ne pas mourir, que pouvons-nous faire ?
Jetez le corps, abandonnez l'attachement a l'ego et les pensées individuelles. Vous trouverez une pensée qui enveloppe le ciel et la terre, qui ne fait jamais d'erreur, quoi qu 'on puisse en penser, dans les trois mondes du passé, du présent et du futur.
En bref, il n'y a ni perte ni gain pour les bouddhas et les patriarches. Lorsque nous leur dédions notre corps et notre etre tout entier, que nous ne détournons pas notre regard de leur visage, due nous sommes sur la meme longueur d'onde, nous pouvons expérimenter la compassion Infinie et illimitée des bouddhas et des patriarches.



Ni crime, ni bonheur, ni perte, ni bénéfice

Aux yeux des bouddhas il n'existe ni crime, ni bonheur, ni perte, ni bénéfice. Tuer un homme est un crime certain, mais a la guerre c'est parfois de l'héroisme louable... S'éveiller a l'esprit de Bouddha, c'est devenir une personne que rien ne sépare de l'univers. Au début du sucra de Bodhidhama on trouve ces mots : "Notre nature est mystérieusement subtile. " Cela signifie que vous tes sans limite et que je me trouve en vous. Alors, il ne peut rien exister qui tue. Ce que je veux dire c'est que si je ne tue pas, ce n'est pas parce qu'on me l'interdit mais parce que je ne peux tuer. Et ce n'est pas parce que je n'en ai pas le droit que je ne vole pas, mais parce que je ne peux pas voler.

S'il y a un sujet et un objet, il n'y a pas le dharma du Bouddha. Moi et vous sommes unis; moi et l'ennemi sommes unis. Et cette meme voie, ce meme dharma, cette meme certification et cette meme pratique ne sont jamais troublés ou détruits. C'est vraiment bien, il n'y a rien de mieux.
La bombe atomique peut éventuellement sauver le camp de ceux qui l'utilisent mais pas le camp des ennemis. Seul zazen sauve les deux : amis et ennemis. Devenir bouddha c'est s'asseoir simplement en zazen. Comprendre la Voie c'est la suivre. Pratique et satori ne font qu'un, mais pratique ou non, le satori est la. C'est tres difficile a comprendre.

Lorsqu'on pratique au milieu des illusions, le satori vient pour la premiere fois avant qu'on en soit conscient. N'est-ce pas une pratique merveilleuse ?
Seulement s'asseoir, sans rien désirer. On parle d'éternité mais l'éternité c'est pratiquer ici et maintenant. Si j'arrive a vous faire comprendre cela profondément, vous ne vivrez pas jusqu'a 50 ans dans le noir! Sinon, vous ne pouvez suivre la voie du Bouddha. Zazen, c'est pratiquer ici et maintenant. Maintenant ! Maintenant ! Maintenant ! Car rien n'est éternel. Donc, meme la santé n'est rien ; meme l'intelligence n'est rien. Alors il faut attraper celle chose tres importante qui résout le regret qu'on pourrait avoir de se faire couper la tete maintenant.
Le dojo est le lieu ou on tue les hommes. Tant que l'homme vit en nous, ce monde demeure un monde d'illusions et de chimeres. II est important de mourir pour voir le monde. Vu du cercueil, c'est un spectacle intéressant. La réalité du vrai monde est magnifique pour peu qu'on enleve ses verres teintés pour la contempler. Mais de cela vous ne pouvez en discuter avec les hommes. Alors il faut tuer l'homme. Et lorsque l'homme est mort, c'est bien.

La religion, ce n'est pas transformer le monde extérieur mais bien transformer cet oeil cette oreille, et cette tau La religion ce n'est pas penser, mais pratiquer. L pratique religieuse est la chose unique. Rien a voir avec les vérités vantées sur l'emballage d'un médicament Par la pratique quotidienne on sera né au paradis, e perdant sa pratique quotidienne, on sera né en enfer. L paradis dont je parle, c'est le calme, la force tranquille d'un homme pour qui il n'y a ni bien ni mal, ni Bouddha ni satori, rien a rechercher, rien a fuir.



Les hommes ont toujours quelque chose a faire

Les hommes ont toujours quelque chose a faire. Ils se comportent comme si des feux d'artifice éclataient partout, devant, derriere, a droite, a gauche ! Ils ne savent plus ou donner de la tete.
« Je n'ai pas le temps. Je suis pressé, je suis débordé... »Ils ont la tete pleine de contradictions et ils ne prennent jamais le temps d'y mettre de
l'ordre. Or, plus le monde devient compliqué, plus il est nécessaire de le simplifier, de l'unifier et de retrouver l'unité fondamentale.
Demande-toi pourquoi tu manges, pourquoi tu as besoin de boire de l'alcool. Tu me répondras « Parce que j'ai envie de manger, parce que j'ai envie de boire, alors je bois et je mange, c'est tout. » La plupart des gens ne savent meme pas pourquoi ils agissent, c'est pourquoi leur vie est incohérente. « Je mange parce que j'ai envie de manger, ,je bois parce que j'ai envie de boire. » C'est exactement comme le fouqui rit et qui pleure sans savoir pourquoi. « J'ai lait cela parce que j'avais envie de le faire... Je dois aller la-bas parce que j'en avais envie... » C'est un comportement d'enfant.

« Paisible et heureux, dans le silence, le calme et la sérénité » ,voila pourquoi je vis, voila pourquoi je mange. C'est net et clair. Sawaki fait zazen et pour donner plus de force a zazen, il s'est fait raser le crâne et porte le kesa. C'est tout. Il fait zazen et le fait faire aux autres. Il ne possede que l'indispensable. Tout le reste n'est que bavardage, meme si l'on parle de Loi a longueur d'années, pendant un siecle. Certains tombent dans la dépression nerveuse, a force d'étudier les textes. Ils disent alors des choses admirables auxquelles je rie comprends rien, ni personne d'ailleurs. Ils travail lent tellement qu'ils ne font plus zazen. Ils ne mangent plus, ils se remplissent l'estomac de leurs études. Tout cela est inutile. Notre unique et supreme mission est toute simple demeurer dans le silence, le calme et la sérénité, tranquillement, loin de tout bruit et de toute agitation.

Apres avoir vengé son seigneur d'un affront, Oishi Yosliio se retira au temple Sengaku-ji et déclara : « Quoi qu'il en soit, jamais l'ombre d'un doute n'a assombri ma pureté d'intention. » La situation rie comportait qu'une seule issue, hara kiri. En sachant qu'il devait mourir, il a fait ce qu'il
devait faire en toute conscience, et d'une seule pensée, sans se demander quel bénéfice il allait en tirer ou ce qu'il allait devenir. Ceux dont l'esprit est plein de contradictions vivent dans l'angoisse. A l'inverse, lorsque la pensée est unifiée tout devient simple.
L'important, c'est l'unité. Lorsque la vie disparaît, c'est Ia seule chose qu' il reste. C'est pourquoi il faut etre tres vigilant Ceux qui ne trouvent pas cette unité sont a plaindre. Nous ignorons pourquoi nous sommes nés etres humains, et personne ne le sait. Les parents nous ont mis au monde, on n'y peut rien, nous sommes la. Comme chez les oiseaux, le mâle apporte la nourriture et la femelle couve l'oeuf. Lorsque la chaleur a produit son effet, cui ! cui ! elle donne la béquée cui ! cui ! les petits s'envolent. Les aniniaux ne sont absolument pas différents de nous, nous sommes seulement un peu plus élaborés. L'homme est un animal qui fume, rien de plus. Il ne vivrait plus dans l'angoisse s'il avait seulement ce lieu unique ou demeurer dans le « silence et la sérénité » Disons que c'est le karma supreme.



The Notebooks of Kodo Sawaki

Eternal satori is included, and rests only in the practice of the moment.
Zazen means to practice that which cannot be explained.


During zazen bonnos, monen, appear.
Most people think that zazen is to put an end to illusions, to thoughts. This is a mistake. During zazen, sometimes thoughts, bonnos arise, and sometimes they do not arise.
When you sleep, thoughts do not arise. When you sleep in zazen, you don't think at all.


You must be beyond good and evil, good luck and bad luck, happiness and unhappiness, true and false. As formless, they are ungraspable.


Everyone wants to obtain the merits of religion and tries to run after satori, even during zazen. They only want to have satori.
So satori without zazen appeared, satori without Zen, lectures without zazen, writings without zazen.
Many books are made like this, without the experience of zazen.


When a drop of water falls in the ocean,
When a speck of dust falls on the ground,
At that moment the drop of water is no longer a drop of water,
It becomes the ocean,
And the speck of dust is no longer a speck of dust,
It becomes the entire earth.


The Zen of Master Dogen is not the wish to become more than human, a special being, Buddha or God.
No more is it the hope to have a vision of emptiness, nor to perform miracles.
It is to return to the normal condition of the human mind.


There are many seekers who analyze but never practice zazen.
They just keep the books, like bankers who count money without themselves being rich.



Zazen Poem
by Kodo Sawaki Roshi

Doing zazen calmly in the dojo,
Putting aside all negative thoughts,
Obtaining nothing but a mind without desire,
- This joy is beyond paradise.

The world runs after fame, honor,
Beautiful clothes and comfort.
But these pleasures are not true peace.
You run and stay unsatisfied until death!

Wear the kesa and black robe and practice zazen.
Concentrate with a single mind, whether still or in motion.
See with your own eyes deep inner wisdom.
Observe and know intimately the true aspect of all action and all existence.
Be able to observe balance.
Understand and know with a mind that is perfectly still.

If you are like this,
Your spiritual dimension,
The highest in this world,
Will be beyond compare.



The Kesa
Teisho by Kodo Sawaki Roshi

Drizzle and dew, mist and clouds
cover our bodies.

This garment is the kesa.

We saw earlier that Buddha nature is the pearl of defenses. We now learn that it is also the kesa.

One day an unsui asked me the meaning of the kesa. When I replied, "The kesa is something which is not clear," he looked at me as though I were talking rubbish. But the kesa truly is something indefinite, both in its muted color (the indefinable color of ruins or rags) and in its measurements that obey no exact rules. Its color and measurements have no outward appearance. For this reason it has been called the garment of the rice-field of unlimited happiness.

It is said that Shakyamuni's kesa measured ten foot one inch, and that of Maitreya one thousand feet. It is neither large nor small, but without appearance. It really is very odd.

The kesa is the symbol of the substance of the Buddha's Law, the garment of "drizzle and dew, mist and clouds." Heaven and earth, the entire universe, are one single kesa. No world exists outside of the kesa. We do not fall into hell or rise up to heaven-we go nowhere, we come from nowhere. There is only one kesa. The towns of Kyoto and Nara were laid out in the pattern of a kesa. "Drizzle and dew, mist and clouds cover our bodies." We owe it to ourselves to wear the kesa.

Prince Shotuku, who introduced Buddhism to Japan, wore the kesa to run the affairs of state and to comment on the three Mahayana sutras. The emperor Shomu also wore it for governing. Generations of emperors have had faith in the kesa. It was the same in the world of warriors: Kikuchi Taketoki, Takeda Shingen and Uesegi Kenshin all benefited from the infinite virtues of the kesa. Wearing the kesa and transmitting the kesa is the supreme happiness of mankind.

People who think this is just a load of narrow formalism are the playthings of their bad karma. But those who rejoice in wearing the kesa have their full share of happiness.

The great happiness that the kesa brings from the entire universe was best expressed by Daichi Zenji:

I am happy in my kesa,
Calmly I possess the universe.
I stay or leave as it wishes.
The pure breeze drives the white clouds.

And in another poem:

Wherever it goes,
The snail is at home when it dies.
There is no world outside the kesa.

When "Drizzle and dew, mist and clouds cover our bodies" we are calm and unworried. By wearing the kesa, we find peace of both mind and body.

Source: Bulletin Zen No. 65. AZI Paris. Assembled by Raphaël Triet.



Teisho by Kodo Sawaki Roshi

Nowadays, all zazen groups or masters who transmit the law have signs indicating their presence.

A long time ago in India, large banners were put up. And even now, in certain regions, flags of all colors hang and fly in the breeze, a souvenir of ancient times.

In our language nowadays, hanging flags indicating Dharma, and establishing true doctrine, means expressing one's own experience relating to satori. Those who speak of Dharma without ever having experienced it are like parrots. They quote words and expressions of others, just like a dictionary. Teaching the Dharma means relating your personal experience.

All day long, we use expressions which mean absolutely nothing, like saying, "I'm fine, thank you," even when we are really not feeling well. These are words which reflect nothing at all.

Progress? Regression? Who knows what goes in the right or wrong direction? What's good and what's bad? A cure can be a poison and a poison can be a cure.

In the Gion section of Kyoto, lkkyu Ocho had a disciple named Chigoku Taiy who was a high class prostitute. When she realized that hell didn't exist and that she was Buddha, all her customers left her feeling totally illuminated and became, shortly thereafter, fervent followers of the Way.

I often hear people say that they prefer a certain yoken [sweet bean paste] as compared to another. They are imported from Kyoto to Osaka and vice versa. Why always seek elsewhere? As far as I'm concerned, rice balls and radishes with saumur satisfy me just fine.

A long time ago, I was travelling by train in the Kansai region. I remember reading an article in the local newspaper about the vast quantities of sardines caught in the sea of Isu, and what was done with them. There was a photo of a beach covered with these sardines.

Sardines are considered to be very ordinary fish because there are great quantities of them in our seas. If they were fished only once a year, I'm sure they would be considered as a great delicacy. Trout, on the other hand, is considered to be a luxury as it is very rare.

I once joined some fishermen in the Tamagawa river, but I didn't see one single trout hanging from a line. Sardines swim in schools and with one swipe of the net, you can catch mountains of them. They are transported by truck, salted, dried, and canned. The surplus sardines are sold to be used as fertilizer. We don't have a very high regard for these fish, but they are really rather tasty. In fact, they would certainly be considered even better than trout if they were more rare.

Good and bad are relative concepts which don't really exist. It's the same for truth and illusions. The good could not exist without the bad. It's simply man's karma which produces dualism and determines what's good and bad. What makes men happy in their tiny little world? They like to have fun and receive gifts. They consider a birth to be a happy event -whereas it could be something very unfortunate if the baby is ill or becomes a hooligan. Marriage is also considered to be a reason for congratulating-even if the bride might be marrying a long time drunkard.

Joy and suffering are relative notions which can change and be deceiving. Nothing allows anyone to say that they are 100% sure that an event is a happy one and another an unhappy one. There is bad within the good and goodness within the bad. Good and bad within themselves don't really exist. For the time being, the following comment by Shinran is evident :

One must not find virtue in glory, nor feel fear of evil.

Each and every man is neither good nor bad.

Source: Bulletin Zen No. 65. AZI Paris. Assembled by Raphaël Triet.



No Difference
Teisho by Kodo Sawaki Roshi

Zazen is practicing, with a human body, that which is no different from Buddha.

As cellular organisms, we are like all other animals, but only humans can practice what is identical to Buddha. This means becoming one with the universe, one with heaven and earth.

The task of our life is: not to waste what we have in common with Buddha; to manifest this Way when lifting the hand, when advancing the foot; and to absorb our total being into each place at each instant. To be immobile and unshakable in our life, this is to fill our present.

This here and now cannot be imitated. So create the present from your true self, the one which pours out unceasingly, free and unhindered, without thoughts, without mind- hishiryo.

However, through illusion and discrimination, some people imitate last year and the years before and run their life with old calendars.

Understand what religion is: the place where there is no high or low, left or right, back or front. It is transparent from the sky to the earth. It is achieving the Way. Fear, anxiety and deceit are absent. When deceit disappears, the universe becomes pure as crystal.

Having this mind makes all difficulties disappear and clears the way for absolute happiness. Whatever you do, wherever you go, you will always be happy. The mind of the Way is a very pleasant thing.

Friends and enemies, flatterers and critics, bury them in this universal medicine chest and use them to follow the Way.

This is the power of looking within, the only power which creates the self, penetrates the total emptiness of the five personal aggregates and overcomes all suffering.

This Way makes everyone happy-without exception. Everything becomes better. Everything becomes the Way.

An old song says, "My face in the mirror frowns when I frown." This goes for humans too. When one smiles, the other smiles. It is like they are connected with an electric wire.

Whoever doesn't understand this truth lives a constipated life. Understanding this principle is to see the world transparent like a glass building.

The sutras call this, "To penetrate and fill an exact and pure world."

I myself fill the entire universe.

Source: Bulletin Zen No. 57. AZI Paris. Assembled by Raphaël Triet.



Good and Bad
Teisho by Kodo Sawaki Roshi

The human race is set apart by their intelligence and their manual dexterity. With these, they can build all sorts of machines. They also like to fight one another and they use language with skill. Put simply, humans have been given many talents. Unfortunately, it seems not many use these faculties well.

The saying goes, "Don't use your gifts poorly." I would even say that it is essential to do everything possible to use our talents to the best. A fraud makes bad use of his talents, so does a loan-shark, and so does the man with three sets of holiday homes and mistresses! Each one of us in our own way is an example of badly used talent. Starting with myself, when I look closely I see I am mediocre too. Those whose paths are without error are extremely rare.

Making the best of your abilities-this is to identify yourself with Buddha or God.

I would say that before anything else, you must know yourself to the core. Then make manifest the best in yourself and cut the passions which make us tend to use ourselves poorly. Like this, holding the sharpened sword of wisdom, we climb our own summit, to the peak of light that contains the entire universe. "Seizing the sword of wisdom" means taking human capacities to their highest potential.

One day, a long time ago, someone saw Sariputra urinating in a field. The man who saw him had such a powerful experience that he put his hands together and did sampai. The story says that at that instant he saw the true nature of Buddha.

It seems that just seeing Sariputra in the posture of urinating naturally inspired deep respect. Whether we are doing zazen or reading sutras, we should summon respect. The same goes for all our daily gestures, like eating or urinating, which we don't generally pay much attention to. This way infinite benefits flow from each instant of our daily life-like dragons and elephants who stomp and play without ever needing to hear the Dharma.

When I look back on my life, I see I could have been anything. When I was young, I thought of doing many different things. Is it just chance that I became a monk and dedicated all my energies to that? I could have worked on the railroads. All day long I'd throw my pick to dig the earth; and when I'd leave at night, I'd drink lots of sake. I would have liked this life, since it would have been my life. I could have been a singer (I don't know if I'd be any good), or a storyteller. I could have become anything, a good guy, or a crook. A life is like a vise, it can hold this or that, it has many uses. The same goes for illusions or satori.

Mount Fuji is considered a big mountain, but seen from the top of the Himalayas, it seems pretty small. They say the Pacific is huge, but it's only a part of the globe. Seen from the universe, it looks like a footbath. (It's not even unfathomable; we know how deep it is). It is difficult to imagine man as a miniscule little animal. Seen with a microscope, an amoeba looks like a diver swimming at the bottom of the sea. She can't even see the edges of the slide she moves on, to her it's as big as the Pacific Ocean. To say that something is big or small is to look with a defective vision. It's up to us to look at our world differently.

What really makes them happy, these little humans in their miniscule little world? They like to have a good time and get presents. They consider a birth a happy event (though it could be a disaster if the baby is deformed or becomes a good for nothing), and that a marriage is cause for congratulations (though they don't know if the groom won't end up to be an incurable drunk). Joy and suffering are relative ideas, indefinite and deceiving. Nothing allows anyone to say with any certainty that this event is happy and that one unhappy. The good carries in it the bad, and vice-versa. So:

Truth is without foundation,
the root of illusion is empty.

In abandoning having and not having,
the non-empty becomes empty.

The whole universe is contained in those two verses.

The good and the bad have never existed. So Shinran's remark stands true:

Don't be proud of virtue,
Don't be afraid of the bad.

All humans, without exception, are neither good nor bad.

Source: Bulletin Zen No. 66. AZI Paris. Edited by Raphaël Triet.



True Religion
Teisho by Kodo Sawaki Roshi

Most think that a religion is belonging to a group that shares a system of beliefs. In reality each individual has their own religion.

Religion is the peace of mind felt when you are truly yourself. It structures your daily life, but it can't be explained or shown to anyone. I think religion is this stability hidden deep in one's self. Different for everyone, it's what allows someone to keep to the way without anyone else's help.

It is obvious that if religion is our own essence, the disputes between different branches of Zen seem totally insignificant. Likewise, it is useless to try to imitate Shakyamuni or any other master. At other times there were other ways. What is essential is for everyone to seize their own peace of mind, here and now.

The lives of the ancients show that they all had the power of maka hannya. For example, the great patriarch Kanadaiba didn't give conferences, or even commentaries on the texts, he deepened his wisdom by living it each day.

Grasp the self, the ultimate in ourselves, the true ego - whatever you call it. It is absolutely necessary to seize it, for as it is, it is the nature of Buddha.

The young girl will find happiness in her state as young girl; and as a woman, in her state as woman; next as a grandmother and finally in death.

Too often, the young girl is in a hurry to become a woman; and when she's a woman, she wants to be a mother. The servant girl hates cooking and right away wants to be boss; but as a boss she finds the work too stressful. I wish that everyone would fully enjoy their life.

One day I got a postcard from a policeman telling me that he was trying to live fully his life as a police inspector. When I read this, I had to laugh. That's exactly it! He perfectly realized my teaching. Becoming buddha is becoming oneself completely. When you are not yourself, life is hell.

Suppose a jackal tried to imitate the lion's roar, he could open his mouth and howl as much as he wanted. Being who he is, his voice won't carry.

The Nirvana Sutra says, "A jackal, imitating the roar of the lion, will take 100 years, 1000 years before he finds his voice. Yet a little, three year old lion cub roars like his parents."

The law of the Buddha teaches how to become a lion, that is to say: how to live authentically one's true nature. Thanks to this, we can lead a life worth the pain of having lived.

Whether roaring or meowing, if it's your true nature, it is a life that works for the good of all.

The Buddha eats, but why does he eat? He eats to work for the good of all beings. He wakes up early in the morning for the others. He sleeps at night for the others. Laughing or crying, everything he does is to save all humanity.

Translated from: Sawaki, Kodo. "Kodo Sawaki." In "Zen" no. 67, p.7. AZI-Paris, 1994.
Source: Bulletin Zen No. 65. AZI Paris. Assembled by Raphaël Triet.