Sawaki Roshi: 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 Roshi: 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.