Thursday, March 12, 2009


In the fall of 1965, Mr. Toshio Yamada, who was then editor of the religious column in the Asahi Newspaper came to Antaiji to visit my teacher, Kodo Sawaki Roshi. As he was about to leave, he said to me, "Sawaki Roshi profoundly impresses his audiences with his directness. Could you write some articles based on how you, as his disciple, understand his teaching?" I thought that it would be a very good idea for me to do it, as part of my own practice. First, I lookrd over his sayings, which I had recorded in my notebooks as "Dharma Words." Then I began writing my comments on them. I entitled the work Yadonashi Kodo Hokkusan( The Zen Teaching of "Homeless" Kodo).

That fall, Sawaki Roshi became critically ill and I could not continue the project. After his death at the end of November of that year the articles I had completed were printed as his memorial address. They were published serially in the paper, over a year and two months. Writing these articles deepened my appreciation of Sawaki Roshi's life and practice and also, comforted and encouraged me. Lonely and upset because of my teacher's death, I was extremely grateful to Mr.Yamada, who had given me the opportunity to comment on Sawaki Roshi's teaching.

The articles were put together in two booklets in Mamizu Shinsho, and published by Hakujusha Co. Ltd. Subsequently, Mr Nakayama of Hakujusha, asked me to write more articles in order to publish them as one of the Hakuju-shinsho.

Sawaki Roshi was like an ancient Zen Master: fearless and unconvential. I, on the contrary, am such a fainthearted person that I hesitate to tell people that I was Sawaki Roshi's disciple.
Yet, I practiced with him and served him as his closest disciple longer than anyone. When he was very near the end of his life, I asked him, "Do you think I'll be able to lead people after your death?" He replied,"In our tradition, Zazen is the center. As long as you continue doing Zazen, you can lead people." He gave me the encouragement I needed and showed me the direction I should take. I received this as his final teaching. Since then, I have devoted myself to Zazen and have maintained Antaiji as a place where the practice of Zazen is the center.

It might be helpful to introduce Sawaki Roshi to others, so that they can become familiarwith his teaching. Indeed, in this world there are more timid people like me than courageous ones, like him. It is with deep gratitude that I offer this book on the Seventh Anniversary of my master's death.

Remembering his final days
On this day in early autumn,
Seven years after his passing.

Kosho Uchiyama

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