Thinking of Zen Teacher Kodo Sawaki, who started the lesson in Zazen at Komazawa University（７）
Talking about Zen Teacher Sawaki (hereinafter abbreviated as Sawaki), it was apt to be thought that he was large-minded and unprecedented. Nevertheless he certainly had such characteristic, he also was the very person who made much of manners, holding the precision of maintaining the practice (Gyoji-menmitsu), which was said to be the outstanding characteristics of Soto Sect also.
While nowadays this kind of custom had not been put into practice so much gradually, in those days there was a custom to invite a respected teacher or a distinguished guest to let them make use of a bathroom and a toilet for the first place when a house was newly built or renovated. One day, Sawaki was asked to be the first to make use of a bathroom (Iri-hajime). His manner for taking a bath already had the reputation of being precise and quiet . When he took a bath, the mistress (Okami)of that house let her daughters wait the thing out outside the bathroom for their education. It is said that the cleanness was the same as before his bathing, with almost no splash .The catchword saying that even if one thousand of people would bathe, the cleanness is like as before, was hung on the wall of the bathroom of Chikuyū-ryō*1 dormitory, where Sawaki once used to serve as a housemaster.
Later on, teaching the students mainly Zazen as a Professor of Komazawa University, Sawaki traveled from place to place throughout Japan , opened halls for Zazen and took charge of leadership.
In Showa 24 (1949) he opened the Shichikurin- Sanzen- Dojo at Antai-ji temple in Kamigyo Ward in Kyoto City and was appointed long disciplined leading Zen monk (Shike) for the monks’ Hall(Sodo) built by Soto Sect. In Showa 38 (1963) he resigned from Komazawa University and was appointed Emeritus Professor and returned to Antai-ji temple. On 21st December Showa 40(1965) he passed away when he was 86. He did not leave behind any writings in person. However, “Sawaki Kodo Zensyu”( nineteen volumes, with two supplementary volumes) which his disciples edited Sawaki’s lectures and records of advocacies, is bequeathed.
Sawaki often talked unreservedly that there were three things in the world which he did not want. Those were a temple, property, and a companion for life. Although that is not the case that he made special efforts , in the end he had never acted a Chief Buddhist monk of a Buddhist temple, had never made a fortune, and had never got married. He had carried through a dependent on others for his whole life. In his later days, someone told him late in life “You had succeeded in these at last.”
It is rumored that people called him “Homeless Kodo.” I feel that it would not be his real intention also, supposing to be said that to have been called so was the success. Tell the truth, there were not infinitesimally signs of advancement in his all life. It seems to me that these matters should be admirable indeed in comparison with circumstances of modern Buddhist monks.
(*My respected teacher is Zen Teacher Tokugen Sakai (a former Professor of Komazawa University). So I would like to beg readers’ pardon for my referring expediently to Zen Teacher Sawaki who was the master of my respected teacher, as just Sawaki in this column. No matter how I do not know Zen Teacher Sawaki by the face, my teacher (my father) used to tell me,“When you were a baby, you had gotten Zen Teacher Sawaki to hold ㏌his arms”. This column is that I consolidated my ideas, mainly by reference to “Sawaki Kodo- Kikigaki” written by Tokugen Sakai (June 1984, Kodansha) and to all possible what I heard from my teacher .
*1 Chikuyu-ryo 竹友寮
a student dormitory at Komazawa University. the lifestyle there apply correspondingly to a training hall, and boarders attend Komazawa University, living in this dormitory
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