Kodo Sawaki was born in in Tsu, in the Mie prefecture. Orphaned at the age of ten, he was adopted by his lazy, gambling-addict uncle and his ex-prostitute wife. At the age of thirteen, he started working in the gambling district as a watchman for the Yakuza to survive. In , without real support from family or friends, the poor sixteen-year-old Kodo Sawaki traveled on foot to Eihei-Ji Temple the main Soto Zen temple founded in by Dogen. He wanted to become a monk but instead got a place in the temple as a servant. However, his position as a servant allowed him to learn and practice Zazen.
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The person who has left home must create his own life. 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. He often said, "All Buddhist scriptures are only footnotes to Zazen. 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. 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. 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. 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? I hear that they could not reach a conclusion. 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?! 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.
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.
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! 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. Today study just gets you a licence that gets you a job. People do things, say things, an hang on to others, without any convictions of their own. 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.
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. I myself was a student at Waseda during a strike in , 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. And they should demostrate while looking at those banners.
It is best not to anything but zazen. If you do something else, maybe the devil made you do it. 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.
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. 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.
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.
People mistake quantity for quality. 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. 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.
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.
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.
Kodo Sawaki, the Homeless Monk