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.

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