Friday, November 10, 2006

A Poem by Kodo Sawaki

Doing zazen calmly in the dojo,
Putting aside all negative thoughts,
Obtaining nothing but a mind without desire,
-This joy is beyond paradise.

The world runs after fame, honor,
Beautiful clothes and comfort.
But these pleasures are not true peace.
You run and stay unsatisfied until death!

Wear the kesa and black robe and practice zazen.
Concentrate with a single mind, whether still or in motion.
See with your own eyes deep inner wisdom.
Observe and know intimately the true aspect of all action and all existence.

Be able to observe balance.
Understand and know with a mind that is perfectly still.

If you are like this,
Your spiritual dimension,
The highest in this world,
Will be beyond compare.

19 Comments:

At November 10, 2006, Blogger oxeye said...

Whenever we use our senses, we find the physical
self. But when we act, we experience oneness between self and circumstances. And in this
oneness, we experience neither constructed self (permanent self) nor physical self (no
permanent self) as separate. But to deny the existence of a real self at this very moment is
a misunderstanding of what the Buddha taught. Master Kodo Sawaki said: “Grasp the self,
the ultimate in ourselves, the true ego - whatever you call it. It is absolutely necessary to
seize it, for as it is, it is the nature of Buddha.” - Michael Eido Luetchford

 
At November 11, 2006, Blogger Dan said...

good quote oxeye

it's interesting that kodo says

"Understand and know with a mind that is perfectly still."

last time i saw mike luetchford he mentioned this thing about zazen not being about stillness but instead that it was dynamic. can't remember well enough what the whole reason was but i remember it struck me.

 
At November 11, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

I read something once by Kodo Sawaki about the kesa, how it represents the entire world and when you wear it, you are wrapping yourself in the universe. Kodo wrote some very poetic stuff that has stopped me in my tracks.

I'll see if I can find it later, as I am interested in knowing if it is as powerful for others here...

 
At November 12, 2006, Blogger DA said...

I hope that this poem is better in Japanese, cos it sucks balls in English.

Hey, how many Japanese Zen Masters from Sawaki's time have written poems about the rape of Nanking? Just curious.

Seriously, why not just put up poetry by Osama Bin Laden? They seem to have a roughly equal moral/religious outlook.

 
At November 13, 2006, Blogger Dan said...

way to flame da. do you feel better now?

 
At November 13, 2006, Blogger gniz said...

I feel that poetry like this idealizes meditation and creates a fetish of enlightenment and attaining special states of mind.

g

 
At November 13, 2006, Blogger DA said...

Oh, Dan, I'm sorry, the poem is brilliant and Sawaki was not a bigot, warmonger, and killer. Don't bother adressing what I said, just circle the wagons.

 
At November 13, 2006, Blogger pol said...

da - When war is seen as just, it is especially hard to resist. All spiritual traditions go through periods of light and dark. Yours is going through one at this very moment. Buddhist masters are subject to karma like everyone else. Understand, there is no such thing as a perfect master.

I'm guessing you just like to show off your satori, but that just shows you are still lacking it. You refer to yourself as a white dude in your "about me" blurb. That shows me you are still hung up in dualistic racial thinking. Thinking that is probably very similar to what Sawaki indulged in for a time. What does your being "white" have to do with anything? I think you have your own issues.

Before your criticize Kudo Sawaki, of whom you know next to nothing, you should take a hard look at yourself. That is the beginning of real satori.

aaron - that is one way of looking at it. there are others.

 
At November 13, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

Da: "Seriously, why not just put up poetry by Osama Bin Laden? They seem to have a roughly equal moral/religious outlook."

Da, the objective of the post is to consider the teaching, not celebrate the man.

The style of your writing makes me guess that you are interested in logic and debate. If so, you may already know that your comment is a textbook example of the Ad Hominem fallacy. I just mention this as a point of interest, because it seems almost intentional.

 
At November 13, 2006, Blogger Dan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At November 13, 2006, Blogger Dan said...

"I feel that poetry like this idealizes meditation and creates a fetish of enlightenment and attaining special states of mind."

I'd tend to agree. it does seem a bit idealistic to put it in gudo's words. but it's possible that this is cos of the translators own biases and preconceptions than cos of kodo sawaki's. it's also important to remeber that zazen IS special otherwise there wouldn't be all of this stuff about the importance of doing it everyday. but maybe it's special in the same way that regular exercise, a healthy diet and early nights are special. hmmm.
that's the thing that i've started to realise about the four fold view: they're all true if you take the particular view point of each one. which could also be why siapac said
'that is one way of looking at it, there are others'

da,
i think anatman has already addressed what you said. it doesn't really have anything to do with my or your personal estimation of kodo sawaki. it's more about the content of the poem which is why i think gniz's comment is a fair enough point.

i've never read any of kodo sawaki's stuff (apart from that poem!) obviously never met him and dont know anything about him other than that gudo nishijima studied under him for a period of time.

" Before your criticize Kudo Sawaki, of whom you know next to nothing, you should take a hard look at yourself. That is the beginning of real satori."

this reminds me of my favourite bible passage,

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye"

the reason why i like this passage so much is that it is good advice but it is good advice to the person who says it as well the person who it is said to. when i say it to someone else it is really applying to me. of course it's much easier to say it someone else than to say it to yourself.

 
At November 13, 2006, Blogger DA said...

"When war is seen as just, it is especially hard to resist. All spiritual traditions go through periods of light and dark. Yours is going through one at this very moment."

Which is why I don't quote the worst people involved with it admiringly. Go to my page and you will find nothing in praise of "Mullah" Umar or the mufto of Jerusalem who collaborated with the nazis. However, nobody counterposes Islam to religion and claims that Muslims are beyond all that. Buddhists do it with Buddhism all the time, and in point of fact Brad does it pretty shamelessly.

"Understand, there is no such thing as a perfect master."

Can you really see no difference between mere imperfection and what this dude was guilty of?

"I'm guessing you just like to show off your satori, but that just shows you are still lacking it"

I don't believe in Satori. Project your own thoughts on someone else.

"You refer to yourself as a white dude in your "about me" blurb. That shows me you are still hung up in dualistic racial thinking. Thinking that is probably very similar to what Sawaki indulged in for a time. What does your being "white" have to do with anything"

Yeah, my off the cuff remark about my maggot colored skin is the same as mass murder. You guys just never give up, do you?

"Before your criticize Kudo Sawaki, of whom you know next to nothing, you should take a hard look at yourself. That is the beginning of real satori."

This grows repetitious.

I.NEVER.HAVE.MURDERED.ANYONE.OR.ENCOURAGED.MURDER. Yeah, I'm not perfect, feet of clay and all that, shocking I know; but there are degrees. Put down the Kool Aid and stop reflexively defending a nazi for a moment.

"Da, the objective of the post is to consider the teaching, not celebrate the man.

The style of your writing makes me guess that you are interested in logic and debate. If so, you may already know that your comment is a textbook example of the Ad Hominem fallacy. I just mention this as a point of interest, because it seems almost intentional. "

I object to the idea that you can seperate the teacher from the man. Your Guru Brad said much teh same thing, but apparently it only applies to drunken Tibetans like Trungpa, not your own beloved Japanese War Criminals.

These guys were on the same side as, and had similar ideology to, the Nazis. Write it off all you want, it's still true.

"think anatman has already addressed what you said. it doesn't really have anything to do with my or your personal estimation of kodo sawaki. it's more about the content of the poem which is why i think gniz's comment is a fair enough point."

All else aside, I still think the poem sucks regardless of Sawaki's character. In English, of course. Maybe it's a masterpiece in Japanese?

I agree with Issa's (saws) quote. But here's the thing;

Kodo Sawaki is guilty of horrible atrocities. Me occasionally being a dick is not the same, no matter how you cut it. Do you defend everyone thsi way? I doubt it. I think it's just reflexive and dishonest defense of your own lineages. It's shameful and only a couple steps above Holocaust Denial.

 
At November 13, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

I do not defend Kodo Sawaki, Brad Warner, the Bible, the Koran, or Buddhist scripture. However, I have found all of these to be sources of wisdom, as well as sources of information with which I disagree.

Personally, I do not know enough about Kodo Sawaki to have an opinion on how he lived. My only exposure to his teaching has been in fragments. And I have found wisdom in those fragments.

The Bible and the Koran both include chapters that prescribe actions which we now consider atrocities. Does this mean we should entirely dismiss these books as sources of wisdom?

 
At November 13, 2006, Blogger Dan said...

what anatman said except that i've read even less (probably) of kodo sawaki. actually i just now found that infamous sword is the precept against killing quote and it has been troubling me. this quote seems to be the basis for all of the attacks on kodo sawaki.

 
At November 13, 2006, Blogger Dan said...

here it is by the way:

"It is just to punish those who disturb the public order. Whether one kills or does not kill, the precept forbidding killing [is preserved]. It is the precept forbidding killing that wields the sword. It is the precept that throws the bomb."

 
At November 13, 2006, Blogger pol said...

da, You assume way too much. Not everyone that writes to this blog is Buddhist. You might be trying to bait the Buddhists here but you do not even know who you are writing to. I don’t have any emotional investment in Gudo Sawaki or the so-called prophet Muhammed, but I can smell a hypocrite. I could say it is shameful for you to follow the religion of a mass murderer.. but I won't mock you.

 
At November 13, 2006, Blogger DA said...

"Personally, I do not know enough about Kodo Sawaki to have an opinion on how he lived."

Why would you debate me about him then?

"The Bible and the Koran both include chapters that prescribe actions which we now consider atrocities. Does this mean we should entirely dismiss these books as sources of wisdom?"

Have you ever actually studied the Qu'ran, or are you just repeating something you heard somewhere?

Incidentally, I'm not dismissing Buddhism, Buddha, whatever, nor trying to make this about Buddhism vs. Islam. I'm not the one who brought Islam into the conversation. I'm talking about a very specific group of individuals in the past century and people who mindlessly follow them while proclaiming the superiority of Soto Zen (which has all the markings of religion, but is not one, cos religion sucks and umm, Zen is better and about reality).

"da, You assume way too much."

I assume nothing that is not self-evident after talking to these people.

"Not everyone that writes to this blog is Buddhist."

Obviously. Your point?

"You might be trying to bait the Buddhists"

No, I'm not. As I just pointed out, I haven't attacked Buddhism per se once, just specific Buddhists over specific actions. Nice strawman you're building though!

"I don’t have any emotional investment in Gudo Sawaki or the so-called prophet Muhammed, but I can smell a hypocrite."

If nobody here has any investment in teh guy, why is it so hard for you all to admit that, I dunno, his actions were questionable to say the least?

What does a hypocrite smell like? I'd imagine it'd smell like someone who says reject authority but makes a messianic figure out of their zen teacher, says question everything but refuses to ask any tough questions about the men they basically worship, call religion the source of evil while claiming that their religion is not one and is thus exempt, and talk mad shit on others through public forums but run and yip like lapdogs when the favor is returned.

"I could say it is shameful for you to follow the religion of a mass murderer.. but I won't mock you."

Ahhh, I love the smell of passive-aggression in the morning....'Hey, I'm gonna mock you in a sentence that says I won't'. That would have been a clever rhetorical device were we in 8th grade. Anyway, call Muhammad (saws) names and slander him all you want, it's you who will eventually bare the burden for such slander. It's also not relevant to our conversation because, frankly, as I stated, it's not Islam vs. Buddhism or debating ancient history.

People, let me throw this your way; let us assume, for the sake of argument, that you CAN seperate a man's teachings from his actions. Kodo Sawaki's TEACHINGS were that nationalism, racialism, violence, and bloodshood WERE Buddhism, and he was hardly the only member of the zen establishment to say or think so. Am I saying this makes Zen evil? No. However, if you do not believe these things to be true, why would you hold this guy up as an example of enlightenment?

Honestly, it seems not only hypocritical, but cowardly, to dance around the issues like this.

 
At November 14, 2006, Blogger Dan said...

da,

i think the problem is that the only evidence for kodo's evilness is one quote from brian victoria's book 'zen at war'. i've yet to find any other evidence. many of the quotes brian used are cited as coming from WWII era Japanese newspapers. Are WWII era Japanese newspapers really such an accurate source that they constitue incontrevertible proof? or are they likely to be completely unreliable propaganda?

 
At November 14, 2006, Blogger Anatman said...

"Why would you debate me about him then?"

Now I think you are being disingenuous. I am not debating you about Sawaki. I have made no statements regarding Sawaki or his character. You are the only one that has done so.

"Have you ever actually studied the Qu'ran, or are you just repeating something you heard somewhere?

I have not "studied" the book, but I have read it. I could easily cite examples to back up my point, but I think you already know what I am talking about.

"why would you hold this guy up as an example of enlightenment?

I haven't seen anyone on this blog claim Sawaki was enlightened.

My impression is that you are fishing for something to fight over.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home