Thinking of Zen Teacher Kodo Sawaki, who started the lesson in Zazen at Komazawa University(2)

 After rushing out of home, Zen Teacher Sawaki (hereinafter abbreviated as Sawaki) continued such a hard journey and found his way to Eihei-ji temple at long last, where he was not simply given a permission to practice asceticism as a Buddhist monk. He continued to ask his permission for two days and nights without eating and drinking, and then was finally permitted to stay there as a male worker in the sakuji-beya *1. Sawaki, who did not yet formally become a Buddhist monk , was just permitted to become an inmate of so called a construction worker. Nevertheless, it is said that he could never forget the very delight at that time all throughout his life.

 He welcomed the New Year at Eihei-ji temple this year, and in January of Meiji 30 (1897) came to move to Preceptor Koho Sawada’ place in Amakusa (Shushin-ji temple, Kusuura Village, Amakusa County, Kumamoto Prefecture). It was due to circumstances (En) that he had a chance to get acquainted with Preceptor Koho’s disciple at Eihei-ji temple. On 8th December of the year concerned, Sawaki’s dearest wish came true that he came to have his head shaved and to receive the precepts for bodhisattvas (the Buddhist practitioner) (Tokudo=Shukke), led by Preceptor Koho.

 Around this time, Sawaki studied intensively. He studied from the lights out ( kaichin ) at 9:00 PM until past midnight, valuing highly his sleeping hours. Just like Kinjiro Ninomiya, he used to walk while reading books. He had devoted himself further to sitting㏌Zazen from then.

 He had hit upon the idea like that, “The figure for Zazen is not one of non-realized persons (common persons). Explicitly, it is the very figure of the Buddha. Zazen itself, which will be able to appear the Buddha, is the most superior thing among all that a human being is able to do, isn’t it ? ”. At the age of eighteen he had shaped decisively his course for the rest of his life as follows, “It will be very easy to live just for eating. But to spend my whole life just on eating would be wasteful. I must be saved my life for the do*2. Whenever I will not be able to eat for the sake of the do, I will be just only even starved to death.”

*1 Sakuji-beya
workroom for people who repair erections of a Buddhist temple.
*2 Do
the right way that must be observed as a human being. in this column, it means the ascetic practices for the Buddha’s truth (Butsudo-syugo)


Origins Team, TSUNODA Tairyū