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Thread: Homeless Kodo's "TO YOU" - Introduction and Chapters 1 & 2

  1. #1

    Homeless Kodo's "TO YOU" - Introduction and Chapters 1 & 2

    Dear All,

    We will begin Sawaki Roshi's "TO YOU" in our "No Words Bookclub" from this week. We are working with the new edition, available many places (support your small bookstores! ):

    https://books.google.co.jp/books/abo...on&redir_esc=y

    As it is a fairly easy read, and chapters are rather short, consisting mostly of small quotes, we will take a few chapters at a time.

    The rules of the game are pretty easy: Just mention here, in our discussion, any quotes (none, one or many) that ring your bell and resonate with you, and briefly say why.

    That's it!

    If you need a version to "cut and paste" a quote, there is one here. However, PLEASE PURCHASE THE ACTUAL BOOK! I ask everyone to use the following only for ease in cutting and pasting a quote or two into this discussion, not for purposes of reading the entire book. Thank you!

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/13v2...ew?usp=sharing

    So, this week, after reading the Introduction and Chapters 1 & 2, what trips your trigger, strikes your fancy, inspires and makes your day? Try to say why it does so for you. (You can also feel free to disagree with Ol' Kodo too, but be prepared to say why!)

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah

    Last edited by Jundo; 08-13-2022 at 04:33 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Hello everyone - well where do you start, this book stimulates both nods of solemn agreement and fits of laughter! There is so much you could comment on, but I shall pick a random pair....

    So, serious (from the introduction) I'm not sure I need to comment in detail, but I too have seen this and also felt it while in zazen myself - At one point he had a day off and decided to do zazen in his own room. By chance, an old parishioner who helped out at the temple entered the room and bowed towards him respectfully, as if he were the Buddha himself. This old woman usually just ordered him around like an errand boy. So what was it that moved her to bow towards him with such respect? This was the first time that Sawaki Rōshi realized what noble dignity was inherent in the zazen posture, and he resolved to practice zazen for the rest of his life.

    On the funny side (from Chapter 2) I can see how we fall into these things so easily, and why, when taking 'leave of group stupidity' we benefit from the support of a sangha, provided the sangha isn't the source of the group stupidity! - We live in group stupidity and confuse this insanity with true experience. It is essential that you become transparent to yourself and wake up from this madness. One at a time, people are still bearable, but when they form cliques, they start to get stupid. They fall into group stupidity. They’re so determined to become stupid as a group that they found clubs and pay membership dues. Zazen means taking leave of group stupidity

    Gassho, Tokan (satlah)

  3. #3
    I'm going to start by asking for help to understand one of the quotes.
    I kept notes on over 10 quotes in Chapter 1 alone that I enjoyed and found tremendous wisdom. However, I'm not sure I grasp this one:

    "Everybody talks about “reality” but there’s nothing to it.
    They’re actually just being misled by what they call “reality.”


    Now to my favorite:
    "Everyone in the world tries to make themselves important with their relationships
    and possessions. It’s like trying to use the plate to give
    flavor to a flavorless dish is how the human world has lost sight of itself."

    I grew up in a household that was very proud of its status and wealth, (which, truly, was nothing to get excited about whatsoever!) and I grew up to appreciate and crave possessions to elevate my self-importance. In my late twenties, I begin to realize myself, and what was important to me. I understood that possessions and position/relationships do not make a person. They do not sum up their importance. I feel in a world of social media, this quote is especially poignant and is something I will teach my eleven-year-old.

    Gassho,
    Sara
    STLAH

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by sreed View Post
    I'm going to start by asking for help to understand one of the quotes.
    I kept notes on over 10 quotes in Chapter 1 alone that I enjoyed and found tremendous wisdom. However, I'm not sure I grasp this one:

    "Everybody talks about “reality” but there’s nothing to it.
    They’re actually just being misled by what they call “reality.”

    Gassho,
    Sara
    STLAH

    Hi Sara, I'm not going to offer help to understand the quote as such but, in the 'about this work' part of the introduction, I found this very helpful paragraph that, in itself, is worth reading and considering on it's own as well as in relation to the quotes...

    Yet not a single one of these quotations deserves to be quickly read and then forgotten, for they are all about ourselves. Their deeper meaning is only revealed when we take the time to chew over these sayings in peace, digest them, and “see the mind in light of the ancient teachings.”

    Gassho, Tokan (satlah)

  5. #5
    "Everybody talks about “reality” but there’s nothing to it.
    They’re actually just being misled by what they call “reality.”
    Hi Sara

    I wouldn't go as far as to say there is nothing to reality, but I think that what Kodo is pointing to here is that what appears to us as reality is a combination of sense experience and conceptual thoughts.

    That is not actually a problem, as long as we don't think that *is* reality itself rather than our brain's particular interpretation of it, a version of reality. Others will be experiencing something different which is probably similar but not necessarily so. It is a reminder to not attach to what we experience as the one true reality, but also not to reject it as completely unlike reality either.

    The Laṅkāvatāra Sutra puts it succinctly: "Life is not as it appears, nor is it otherwise".

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    It is a reminder to not attach to what we experience as the one true reality, but also not to reject it as completely unlike reality either.

    The Laṅkāvatāra Sutra puts it succinctly: "Life is not as it appears, nor is it otherwise".

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    I love it; I think this is something especially important right now with all of the divisiveness. Timeless wisdom indeed

    gassho

    risho
    -stlah

  7. #7
    The quote that resonated most with me was:

    "There are some who end up at the bottom of their class and then live out their whole lives feeling like victims. They say their lives have been “screwed up.” And it’s precisely this attitude that screws up their lives."

    In my time at Treeleaf, I have met some amazing people, with compassionate, generous and gentle attitudes towards others and life. Many are all the more amazing when one realizes their particular disabilities or challenges. These people have developed attitudes which allow them to transcend their challenges.

    From the time each of us is born (and perhaps earlier), we create “stories” to make sense of our world. Over time, these stories solidify, take on a permanence and develop into our personalities – our “attitudes”. We become Pro-life or Pro-Choice, Pro-Gun Control or Pro-Gun Rights, Democrat or Republican. We become convinced that “we” are “right” and “others” are “wrong”, that we are “entitled” to something others aren’t, or, as Koto points out, that we are powerless “victims”, doomed thru no fault or responsibility of our own. As Koto points out, this attitude “screws up their lives”. All because of our “attitude”, a creation of our own minds.

    But, thanks to impermanence, we are not doomed. We can change this attitude. We can change our way of thinking, thru other-centered thinking and compassion.

    Although, perhaps, Koto was sying something completely different

    Gassho

    Zenkon

    sat/lah

  8. #8

  9. #9
    Hello, I am quite new to Zen (but very happy with what I have found so far here at Treeleaf!)… so just wondering what Sawaki Roshi meant in the intro when he said “he had wasted his entire life with zazen,” particularly when he goes on to say in chapter 1 that samadhi means being yourself and only yourself…. and you can only be that person in zazen.
    Any help?!?
    Gassho
    Margaret
    Sat

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Margaret View Post
    Hello, I am quite new to Zen (but very happy with what I have found so far here at Treeleaf!)… so just wondering what Sawaki Roshi meant in the intro when he said “he had wasted his entire life with zazen,” particularly when he goes on to say in chapter 1 that samadhi means being yourself and only yourself…. and you can only be that person in zazen.
    Any help?!?
    Gassho
    Margaret
    Sat
    Hi Margaret,

    Welcome again.

    One "wastes their life in Zazen" when one realizes that every moment is precious, and nothing can be wasted ... never wasted in Zazen, nor in all of life. He is being ironic, and it is something of the opposite meaning.

    Yes, it is true that we may impose measures about whether this moment is "meaningful" or "not meaningful" ... and we may go about making a mess of life with our chasing after greedy desires, with anger or pettiness, all manner of harmful behavior and thinking. Yes, it is true, and we should stop doing so. To live in such harmful ways is to waste life.

    Even so, not a moment of life can be wasted.

    It is much as we sit in Zazen dropping all goals, sitting for sitting's sake (what sounds like more of a "waste of time" than that??), sitting in the preciousness of Zazen which is complete just for its sitting ... thus to experience that all of life is precious just for its living! Nonetheless, we should live it well, try not to make a mess of it.



    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by sreed View Post
    I'm going to start by asking for help to understand one of the quotes.
    I kept notes on over 10 quotes in Chapter 1 alone that I enjoyed and found tremendous wisdom. However, I'm not sure I grasp this one:

    "Everybody talks about “reality” but there’s nothing to it.
    They’re actually just being misled by what they call “reality.”
    As Kokuu points out, our experience of life, this world and even who we think we "ourself" are is all created "between the ears" much more than we know. You think you see a "chair" in your room, but there is (I assume, unless it is totally a dream) only a conglomeration of atoms fashioned in a certain shape which our brain has come to label "chair" because we have butts and have come to assign such meaning, function and name to it. If buttless space creatures ever came to earth, they would be unlikely to see a "chair" until we explained it. An ant crawling across the chair also likely knows nothing but the bare sensory feel of a surface, no "chair." Furthermore, everything that we then add ... such as "ugly/pretty chair" or "comfortable/uncomfortable chair" is our subject experience and weighing of our feelings about it. The chair is none of those things until we put such personal assessment. Even "green chair" is only our brain's interpretation of the photon frequencies entering the eyes ... and there is no "green" apart from our subjective experience inside of those vibrations.

    Well, as it is for "chairs," so it is for every darn thing in this life, world, and our own experience of our selves.

    Buddhism not only allows us to become aware of how much we "mind create" our experience of the world, but to drop aspects of it completely (primarily the hard divide between "self/not myself" and all the frictions that come with that division). We also learn to drop some of the harmful "junk" between the ears (for example, the excess desire, anger, jealousy, other divided and harmful thinking), to encourage a more healthful experience between the ears. Life is like a dream we dream, and yet ... it is our dream of life, so we had best dream it well.

    Kodo's point is likely much more basic, however: Most people run through this rat race life convinced of so much nonsense that they buy into, take for true and tangle themselves up in (anything from the importance of having the right basketball shoes to the "Q" conspiracy). We really become prisoners of our own fantasies, delusions and sometime self-created traps.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-15-2022 at 12:59 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    Hi all

    Just noting, right at the very beginning of the introduction that Kodo's parents died when he was very young (his mother at four, and father at seven). This reminded me of the Buddha himself, who lost his mother shortly after birth, and Dogen, whose mother died at seven.

    Perhaps there is something about the early loss of one or both parents that turns the mind towards the dharma, knowing that things of the world are not to be relied upon.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi all

    Just noting, right at the very beginning of the introduction that Kodo's parents died when he was very young (his mother at four, and father at seven). This reminded me of the Buddha himself, who lost his mother shortly after birth, and Dogen, whose mother died at seven.

    Perhaps there is something about the early loss of one or both parents that turns the mind towards the dharma, knowing that things of the world are not to be relied upon.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    I think you are right, though coming from Reading, Berkshire I'm not sure I would have found the dharma at that age! Sadly, in my mental health work, I see that people who have been through this experience, without something else to ground them (like the dharma), can end up with a long-term disaffected, mistrustful relationship with the world and others - the negative expression of 'the world not being reliable' in a way.

    Gassho, Tokan (satlah)

  14. #14
    Hi everyone,

    Two quotes stand out for me:

    “The eyes don’t say, ‘Sure we’re lower, but we see more.’
    The eyebrows don’t reply, ‘Sure we don’t see anything, but we are higher up.’
    Living out the buddha-dharma means fulfilling your function completely without knowing that you’re doing it. A mountain doesn’t know it’s tall. The sea doesn’t know it’s wide and deep. Each and every thing in the universe is active without knowing it.”

    “You do everything that people praise you for. You run after those who are praised. You are never yourself.”

    To me, both passages speak to the tendency to compare ourselves with others and the desire to meet other peoples’ standards. I sure have done my share of both! When I wake up and realize what I have been doing, I feel regret as well as relief that I don’t have to work so hard chasing after approval and praise.

    Gassho,
    Judy
    Sat/lah

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by sreed View Post
    I'm going to start by asking for help to understand one of the quotes.
    I kept notes on over 10 quotes in Chapter 1 alone that I enjoyed and found tremendous wisdom. However, I'm not sure I grasp this one:

    "Everybody talks about “reality” but there’s nothing to it.
    They’re actually just being misled by what they call “reality.”


    Now to my favorite:
    "Everyone in the world tries to make themselves important with their relationships
    and possessions. It’s like trying to use the plate to give
    flavor to a flavorless dish is how the human world has lost sight of itself."

    I grew up in a household that was very proud of its status and wealth, (which, truly, was nothing to get excited about whatsoever!) and I grew up to appreciate and crave possessions to elevate my self-importance. In my late twenties, I begin to realize myself, and what was important to me. I understood that possessions and position/relationships do not make a person. They do not sum up their importance. I feel in a world of social media, this quote is especially poignant and is something I will teach my eleven-year-old.

    Gassho,
    Sara
    STLAH

    Hi. I have read the whole book. It was very stimulating, interesting and thought provoking.
    As Kokuu answered "ourselves" everything is created "between the ears"
    our real true self can only be found by ourselves. Only I know my true self, only you know your true self. What everyone else says is an interpretation built from noise and from their mood and way of seeing.

  16. #16
    Wherever you look, there’s nothing but you. There’s nothing anywhere that isn’t you.

    I like this quote as to me it describes quite simply how all things, including what we perceive as ourselves, are one and the same universe.

    Gassho
    Paul
    Sat, LAH

  17. #17
    Ah! Great help!!
    Gassho
    Margaret
    Sat

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    As Kokuu points out, our experience of life, this world and even who we think we "ourself" are is all created "between the ears" much more than we know. You think you see a "chair" in your room, but there is (I assume, unless it is totally a dream) only a conglomeration of atoms fashioned in a certain shape which our brain has come to label "chair" because we have butts and have come to assign such meaning, function and name to it. If buttless space creatures ever came to earth, they would be unlikely to see a "chair" until we explained it. An ant crawling across the chair also likely knows nothing but the bare sensory feel of a surface, no "chair." Furthermore, everything that we then add ... such as "ugly/pretty chair" or "comfortable/uncomfortable chair" is our subject experience and weighing of our feelings about it. The chair is none of those things until we put such personal assessment. Even "green chair" is only our brain's interpretation of the photon frequencies entering the eyes ... and there is no "green" apart from our subjective experience inside of those vibrations.

    Well, as it is for "chairs," so it is for every darn thing in this life, world, and our own experience of our selves.

    Buddhism not only allows us to become aware of how much we "mind create" our experience of the world, but to drop aspects of it completely (primarily the hard divide between "self/not myself" and all the frictions that come with that division). We also learn to drop some of the harmful "junk" between the ears (for example, the excess desire, anger, jealousy, other divided and harmful thinking), to encourage a more healthful experience between the ears. Life is like a dream we dream, and yet ... it is our dream of life, so we had best dream it well.

    Kodo's point is likely much more basic, however: Most people run through this rat race life convinced of so much nonsense that they buy into, take for true and tangle themselves up in (anything from the importance of having the right basketball shoes to the "Q" conspiracy). We really become prisoners of our own fantasies, delusions and sometime self-created traps.

    Gassho, J

    STLah

    Very helpful analogy! I'm beginning to grasp this and will "chew" on it more.


    Sara
    ST/LAH

  19. #19
    I am a huge fan of Kōdō Sawaki and I really enjoy his simple, blunt, down to earth expressions. It is hard to pick but I’ll go with this one today

    There's actually no reason at all to look around. Yet it seems like we've been gazing right and left for ages.
    It can be hard to not compare oneself to others but a person can only live one’s own life or as Sawaki Roshi puts it

    Every single being simply realizes the self, through the self for the self.

    Tairin
    Sat today and lah

  20. #20
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    "There are some who end up at the bottom of their class and then live out their whole lives feeling like victims. They say their lives have been “screwed up.” And it’s precisely this attitude that screws up their lives."

    This quote is one that stuck out to me as well. In my work, I often meet people whose internal narratives have become quite problem saturated in response to the conditions of life which they have experienced ("I am so screwed up"). There are significant implications for how these story lines (or "attitudes") shape our lives and understandings of others.

    Walking with people through connecting with and understanding new alternative story lines about themselves and in relation to others is inspiring, and as Zenkon noted earlier, is a reminder of impermanence and our capacity to change these attitudes.

    I do think that it's important to remember that these attitudes often arise as a response to one's conditions or experiences with life. In my humble opinion, emphasizing compassion for this development is important, as the tone can otherwise feel a bit harsh and maybe even hostile (if I may be a bit critical of Kodo's tone, with much respect).

    Gassho, Steve

    STLah

    (Sorry to run long!)

    Sent from my Pixel 4a (5G) using Tapatalk

  21. #21
    I love this book already... Sawaki Rishi's sayings seem so modern that I can hardly believe that they weren't written yesterday in some case! I can tell already I will cherish this book.

    Many of the sayings stood out to me, but here is a clear favorite:

    "During the Tokugawa era, the Confucians said, 'Shakyamuni was so full of himself! He talked about his identity as unsurpassable in the entire cosmos.'

    That was their misunderstanding. Not only Shakyamuni has an identity which is unsurpassable in the entire cosmos. Every single one of us has an unsurpassable identity. We moan about it, while all along we're carrying it around with us.

    To practice the way of Buddha means to manifest within yourself your own identity, which is unsurpassable in the entire universe."

    I love this one because it's a clear reminder of my (and everyone's) inherent worth.

    Gassho,
    SatLah
    Kelly

  22. #22
    “The bird doesn’t sing in honor of the person in zazen. The flower doesn’t blossom to amaze the person with her beauty. In exactly the same way, the person doesn’t sit in zazen in order to get satori.”

    I find the positioning of this in the chapter “To you who can’t stop worrying about how others see you” very interesting. I linked it to this other passage in the same chapter: “An ordinary person can lose interest in anything if nobody’s watching him do it. If someone’s watching, he’ll even jump into a fire.”

    I understand, based on my own incomplete experience, that we tend to justify to others and to ourselves everything we do in terms of goal oriented utility. So we have to justify sitting zazen with satori as the goal.

    Sawaki Roshi appear to be saying that we can be free of this need to justify our actions to others and ourselves and just sit for sitting’s sake, as the bird sings for singing’s sake and the flower blooms for blooming’s sake.

    Gassho,
    Mateus
    Sat LAH

  23. #23
    'There's actually no reason at all to look around. Yet it seems like we've been gazing right and left for ages.'

    I love the fact that on first read this appears to be such a casual statement.... Not so! Such simple words to convey the human condition and the antidote!

    Gassho

    Mike

    Sat today
    Let everything happen to you: Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final. - Rainer Maria Rilke

  24. #24
    This is a very good book! The sayings are so blunt and I love it! Really makes me think about things and how I attach thoughts and beliefs to every day things and believe it is “fact.”

    Gassho,

    Finn

    Sat today

  25. #25
    Every single being simply realizes the self, through the self, for the self.
    Don't be happy about the grades others give you. Take responsibility for yourself. You're happy or you're upset when others praise or criticize you, but you don't even understand yourself.
    I've never praised anyone. Everybody already sees their own strengths-and even better than they really are.
    The way of the Buddha means not looking around. It means being completely one with the present activity.
    There's actually no reason at all to look around. Yet it seems like we've been gazing right and left for ages.
    In the society of the dishonest, an honest person is held for a fool.
    You do everything that people praise you for. You run after those who are praised. You are never yourself.
    All my life I've struggled with this. Judging myself against another, and doing things to try and gain some sort of approval. And even once I realized I was doing this I struggled against doing it.

    Now it is worth realizing that even this was never a bad thing.
    ... But what's a good environment? What's a bad one? ... Truly bad conditions mean that you have been born a human being without your own self.
    Things were exactly how they needed to be to be where I am now. So instead of struggling, just sit. And that too will fall into place.

    Gassho,
    Nengyoku
    Sat
    Thank you for being the warmth in my world.

  26. #26
    Hi Nengyoku,

    That is such a good point…

    “Things were exactly how they needed to be to be where I am now. So instead of struggling, just sit. And that too will fall into place.”

    So very true.

    Gassho,

    Finn

    Sat today

  27. #27
    "The asshole doesn't need to be ashamed of being the asshole. The feet don't have any reason to go on strike just because they're only feet. The head isn't the most important of all, and the navel (I'm assuming he's referring to 腹 here?) doesn't need to imagine he's the father of all things."

    I like this for two reasons. First, it calls to mind the line from Hamlet, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,” which has the quality of simultaneously being obviously true but also completely alien to how we experience life most of the time. Everything has a part to play in the Great Functioning which is no less or more important than any other thing.
    Second, and I apologize for not being able to recall exactly where I read this, but 20-ish years ago when I first began to read Buddhist scriptures I came across a sutta which quoted the Buddha as saying that, if people were going to incorrectly identify the "self" with either the body or the mind, they would be less incorrect if they chose the body, because we experience our minds as being an unchanging continuum but we can clearly observe our bodies changing over time. I might still feel like I have the same thoughts as a 41-year-old that I did as a 21-year old, but I can clearly see that I'm greyer and paunchier now than I was then. Identifying the body as the "self" is still incorrect, but closer to the truth than identifying the mind as the "self" because it's harder to pretend that "self" is unchanging that way. I really like how Sawaki uses the language of the body to evoke the same sense of disquiet I felt so long ago.
    Sorry to run long.

    Showan
    Sat today
    Lent a hand
    おつかれさまです

  28. #28
    Samadhi means being yourself and only yourself. That's "the mind that is naturally pure and clear".
    Only in zazen can you be yourself and only yourself. Outside of zazen, you constantly try to be better than the others or to have more fun than the others.
    I both agree and disagree with this one, with great respect to Sawaki Roshi! I think the unquiet mind can bring too many thoughts of attainment to zazen, and I also think that people can bring a pure and clear mind to the rest of life.

    I'm a writer by trade. Do I want to be good at my craft? Absolutely. Do I want to be a better writer than my peers and friends? No. I want to be the best I can be for myself, both because I love what I do and because I want to do the best job I can, but I don't want to be better than everyone else, not only because I don't want that sort of pressure to perform, but because 'better' is entirely subjective. In whose eyes/mind am I better? Who measures that? And if we're all one anyway, then their skill is my skill, which is theirs.

    Do I want to have 'more fun' than others? No. I want to have fun, certainly. I want to lead an enjoyable and fulfilled life when I can, while knowing that my whole life won't be like that (it certainly isn't at the moment!). But I want everyone, all sentient beings, to lead an enjoyable and fulfilled life, too.

    But it may well be that I have misunderstood the second part of his teaching.

    Sorry to run long.

    Gassho
    Anna
    sattoday

  29. #29

    Homeless Kodo's "TO YOU" - Introduction and Chapters 1 & 2

    Quote Originally Posted by Anna View Post
    I both agree and disagree with this one, with great respect to Sawaki Roshi! I think the unquiet mind can bring too many thoughts of attainment to zazen, and I also think that people can bring a pure and clear mind to the rest of life.

    I'm a writer by trade. Do I want to be good at my craft? Absolutely. Do I want to be a better writer than my peers and friends? No. I want to be the best I can be for myself, both because I love what I do and because I want to do the best job I can, but I don't want to be better than everyone else, not only because I don't want that sort of pressure to perform, but because 'better' is entirely subjective. In whose eyes/mind am I better? Who measures that? And if we're all one anyway, then their skill is my skill, which is theirs.

    Do I want to have 'more fun' than others? No. I want to have fun, certainly. I want to lead an enjoyable and fulfilled life when I can, while knowing that my whole life won't be like that (it certainly isn't at the moment!). But I want everyone, all sentient beings, to lead an enjoyable and fulfilled life, too.

    But it may well be that I have misunderstood the second part of his teaching.

    Sorry to run long.

    Gassho
    Anna
    sattoday
    It’s an interesting paradox! If, as we say in Zen, there is no separation between me and others, then there’s no better or worse, and no one to compare to, but at the same time, it also means that me = other and viceversa, so me wanting to be BEST I can be, means I am comparing me to myself and myself = others.. That’s a lot of mental gymnastics though. I think ultimately, what master Sawaki says is that even that “I want to be the best I can be” can be a source of problems that we are free of in zazen since zazen is free of judgments.

    Sorry for running a bit long

    Sat
    Last edited by Bion; 08-18-2022 at 12:39 PM.
    Bion
    美音

    -------------------------
    Please consider whatever I might say as my own ideas, experiences and understanding, and not zen doctrine.
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  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Bion View Post
    It’s an interesting paradox! If, as we say in Zen, there is no separation between me and others, then there’s no better or worse, and no one to compare to, but at the same time, it also means that me = other and viceversa, so me wanting to be BEST I can be, means I am comparing me to myself and myself = others.. That’s a lot of mental gymnastics though. I think ultimately, what master Sawaki says is that even that “I want to be the best I can be” can be a source of problems that we are free of in zazen since zazen is free of judgments.

    Sorry for running a bit long

    Sat
    Ohhhh, okay that makes sense!

    Thank you and gassho

    Anna
    st

  31. #31
    My favorite quote from the first chapter:

    The world shouldn't put on such a show about winning and losing.

    I am what I am. No comparison is possible.
    That brings the relief of self-acceptance and puts an end to zero-sum thinking.

    My favorite quote from the second chapter:

    "A monk in layman's clothes" refers to a layman who has left group stupidity behind.
    That sums up a lot of what the chapter was about. To me, it is about facing reality without the stories spun by people around me, and that I have contributed to. It encourages living by one's individual perceptions and understanding.

    I'm enjoying this book, and it is worth reflecting on.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat Lah
    美道 Bidou Beautiful Way
    恩海 Onkai Merciful/Kind Ocean

    I have a lot to learn; take anything I say that sounds like teaching with a grain of salt.

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Anna View Post
    Ohhhh, okay that makes sense!

    Thank you and gassho

    Anna
    st
    Only in zazen can you be yourself and only yourself. Outside of zazen, you constantly try to be better than the others or to have more fun than the others.

    Hi Anna

    As Bion pointed out, this paradox just goes on and on, and mental gymnastics can never fully resolve it, because thinking requires dualistic separation. Yet we live in a world of both separation and no-separation. In my practice I aim for striving without thought of gain or attainment, but, in my work as a crisis mental health nurse, you bet I want to get better at what I do! But I don't see the 'gain' (in knowledge or experience) as mine, I see the 'gain' as being dedicated to the ongoing work of fulfilling the Bodhisattva vows. On the flip side, I know when I feel pride at something I did, and I can feel the separation it causes between me and others in my mind. It is true that the saying reflects generally present traits in society though I wonder if he was addressing someone specific or a specific audience. Imagine being there when this was said, what is it he is getting at???

    Gassho, Tokan (satlah)

  33. #33
    Treeleaf Unsui Nengei's Avatar
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    Praha, Česká Republika
    Don't be happy about the grades others give you. Take responsibility for yourself. You're happy or you're upset when others praise or criticize you, but you don't even understand yourself.
    This quotation rings true for me because it is something I tell my art students. One difference between a student or an amateur and a professional is that a professional does not cut corners, and does not look to someone else to critique their work, or tell them what to do next, or to tell them when their work is finished. A professional individual responsibility for doing their work correctly and completely. I find this relevant to Zen because my practice is entirely my own responsibility. Whether I sit or not, recite the Heart Sutra or not, say the meal gatha or not is entirely on me; the motivation, the action, and the outcome. It is up to me to know that I have done it as well as it can (by me) be done. Everyone else will have an opinion. But I only seek others' opinions (PRAISE! or criticism) because I forget that
    [y]ou've got to live your own life, naked and sincere.
    That which I seek is within myself.

    Similarly,
    Don't let yourself be taken in by any philosophy or any group. Don't bother with anything as dimwitted as people.
    This is an interesting play on words, I think, if the translators were as sharp as they seem. A person is smart, as Tommy Lee Jones told us in Men in Black, "... people are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it." But aside from the joke, chapter 2 is mostly about seeing what is, beyond the delusions of following along with what others around you are doing. Find out for yourself. See reality. Think independently.

    Gassho,
    遜道念芸 Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.

  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Anna View Post
    I both agree and disagree with this one, with great respect to Sawaki Roshi! I think the unquiet mind can bring too many thoughts of attainment to zazen, and I also think that people can bring a pure and clear mind to the rest of life.

    I'm a writer by trade. Do I want to be good at my craft? Absolutely. Do I want to be a better writer than my peers and friends? No. I want to be the best I can be for myself, both because I love what I do and because I want to do the best job I can, but I don't want to be better than everyone else, not only because I don't want that sort of pressure to perform, but because 'better' is entirely subjective. In whose eyes/mind am I better? Who measures that? And if we're all one anyway, then their skill is my skill, which is theirs.

    Do I want to have 'more fun' than others? No. I want to have fun, certainly. I want to lead an enjoyable and fulfilled life when I can, while knowing that my whole life won't be like that (it certainly isn't at the moment!). But I want everyone, all sentient beings, to lead an enjoyable and fulfilled life, too.

    But it may well be that I have misunderstood the second part of his teaching.

    Sorry to run long.

    Gassho
    Anna
    sattoday
    I don't think he is suggesting that zazen is always a pure stillness, and daily life is always a rat-race. Just as anyone else who ever practiced shikantaza, I'm sure he knew well how violent the mind can rumble or how peacefully still the daily activities of life can be.

    Many of the sayings collected in this book are directed at a particular context, and in these chapters it is thus: To you who can’t stop worrying about how others see you, and, To you who think there’s something to being“in”. So, not so much about these bits of wisdom being aimed universally at all beings at all times, but more pointing to these feelings when they arise in our lives.

    I think when I first read this book some years ago, I flipped through it based more on how I was feeling at that particular time, rather than read it front to back. So yeah, if I had been feeling some "grass is greener on the other side" vibes, I might have gone to these chapters and thought yeah... sometimes I do want to be the best... but it passes.

    Gassho
    Sat, lah
    求道芸化 Kyūdō Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  35. #35
    Good evening all,

    There are many pieces that stand out to me but this is one that resonates deeply and vibrantly...

    "Each one of us is born together with the world and dies together with the world for everyone carries within him his own entirely personal world."

    There are those who say that everyone dies alone and that nothing else is possible. It seems to me that they are paradoxically saying the same thing as this quote which I interpret to say that we cannot be born alone and it is not possible to die alone.

    I just love a beautiful paradox.

    Gassho,

    Aimee
    satlah
    Aimee B.

  36. #36
    Ah, just noticed this started!

    I discovered Kodo Sawaki pretty early in my Zen journey, and he's been one of my favorites ever since. Largely because his bluntness and sardonic wit feel like an antidote to so much of the (what I see as) wishy-washy sentiments encountered in the wider Buddhist landscape. And also because I feel directly challenged--perhaps even insulted--by some of what he says, which I find to be more helpful sometimes than reading things that simply reinforce what I already do/say/believe.

    I guess I will focus on some passages that I find personally confrontational or that seem antithetical to wider Buddhist/Zen/religious practice.

    You can't even trade a single fart with the next guy. Each and every one of us has to live out his own life.
    - One of the lines that has always stuck with me, that I often repeat to myself or to my kids when life-to-life comparisons inevitably arise.

    We don't eat in order to shit.
    - You've got to admire Sawaki's scatological eloquence. He makes his point so often in a direct, shocking way (can you imagine the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh saying something like this??), but one that quickly makes a deep impression. And he's right, the activity of the moment is complete in and of itself. A gentler teacher might say, "we don't climb the mountain just to get to the top."

    This is what it means to be wise. Don't let yourself be taken in by any philosophy or any group. Don't bother with anything as dimwitted as people.
    - Does this not also apply to Zen, to Buddhism, to Treeleaf? I think it does. We must tread carefully in any group activity. For me this sense has always been strong. I've never been much of a joiner, always strongly skeptical of everything. Over the years I've tried many times to force myself against this, taking that to the extreme not too long ago as part of me was convinced that I just had to crack that exterior armor of the ego and I could fall fully and deeply into something I've practiced on the fringes for so many years. But, no, resistance was too strong. Ultimately I must accept that this is just my nature, and that's OK. Some monks are devoted to temple life among many others, some spend their lives as hermits or wandering like Sawaki. Same for the spiritual layman, I think.

    "A monk in layman's clothes" refers to a layman who has left group stupidity behind.
    - this one is interesting to me because it assumes that a monk is naturally above group stupidity. I think it's pretty clear this is not the case when looking at the wider religious landscape. Perhaps a better phrase would be "A Sawaki in layman's clothes"

    Buddhism is a religion that reduces the congestion of blood in the head
    - Again he's speaking of group stupidity and mindless pursuits, but also again from the perspective of his own unique and pared down version of Buddhism/Zen practice. There's certainly as much head-clogging nonsense in Zen/Buddhism and wider religions as there is in the lay world imho. But still, for me this points to the uniqueness of shikantaza specifically.

    -stlah
    Thanks,
    Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

  37. #37
    Sorry I'm late to this. I took the book to the mountains, so I have kept up

    For me, the one that resonated with me this time was:
    You've got to live your own life, naked and sincere.
    I think it sums up the chapter neatly and there is something liberating about following this advice.

    Regarding
    "A monk in layman's clothes" refers to a layman who has left group stupidity behind.
    I didn't assume it meant that a monk is naturally above group stupidity, I read it more like: a layman who behaves and practices as a monk, has left the "group stupidity" of people caught up in everyday life but perhaps has also not joined the group stupidity of the monks in a monastery

    Gassho,
    Sōka
    sat

  38. #38
    Thank you for posting this. It helped me understand the quote better than I initially thought. It reminds me of a quote about having to sit/walk the same in a zendo, and many people believe it is for everyone to be the same, but in reality, it allows people to be unique/individual in their own way.

    Gassho,
    Markus
    SatLaH

  39. #39
    Hello everyone; I'm glad to join you all in reading this book. It is interesting that this book is built on little notes taken throughout Kodo's lectures. All of the essentials boiled down. It also reminds me of Marcus Aurelius's meditations. Although many quotes popped out at me, I wanted to talk about this one.

    Everyone's talking about common sense, but what do they mean? Don't they simply mean thinking like the others? Thinking what group stupidity dictates?
    I was always told I lacked common sense or "street smarts." Stuff like that doesn't make sense to me. (I am neurodivergent, so that is probably why) So reading this quote helped ease my anxiety about not "knowing" things like common sense.

    Sorry for running long.

    Gassho,
    Markus
    SatLah

  40. #40
    I had just been dabbling in the book online here a bit, waiting for my paper copy of the actual book to arrive; but Sawaki Roshi was amazing! I think that there are some of these sayings and aphorisms that will be immediately meaningful to some people, and not others ... and some may become more meaningful in time.

    A good friend of mine recently received a significant award from a local organization, of which we both are members. I had fully expected to receive it myself. I was greatly disappointed that the award did not come to me. I had been struggling with trying to feel happy for my friend in the face of my own disappointment. Then, Master Sawaki's rather earthy remark

    You can’t even trade a single fart with the next guy.
    Each and every one of us has to live out his own life.

    just woke me right up. He must have been amazing ...

    Gassho

    Jack
    sat

  41. #41
    The reason it's called "common sense" is because everyone thinks they have it. That almost sounds like a quote by Mark Twain.
    I recently saw a list of Seven Logics that can change your life:
    1. Stop thinking too much, it's OK to not know the answers.
    2. Make peace with your past so it doesn't spoil your present.
    3. What others think of you is none of your business.
    4. Time heals almost everything, give the time some time
    5. No one is the reason of your happiness, except yourself.
    6. Don't compare your life with others, you have no idea what their journey is all about.
    7. Smile, you don't own the problems in the world

    IMHO, these were composed by a Modern Day Sawaki

    gassho, Shokai
    合掌 仁道 生開 - gassho, Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    日々是好日 【nichi nichi korego nichi】Every Day is a Good Day!!

  42. #42
    "We don’t eat in order to shit. We don’t shit in order to make manure." - This speaks to me about not being so focused on what is to come next. Focus on that moment, that action, without fretting about what is going to happen after. Too many times we are so focused on "when xxxxx happens" that we miss the moments and experiences that happen in the meantime.


    rj/sat/lah

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