Friday, July 31, 2009

Given that I will die

Sawaki Roshi:

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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Everyone is naked

Sawaki Roshi: 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 Roshi: 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 Roshi: 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.
There are no rich, no poor, no great, no plain. These are only words that make us anxious.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Sawaki Roshi: 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 Roshi: 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.