I stumbled upon a book in the monastery library the other day, looking for the map I seem to remember. While there I checked the ‘new arrivals’ shelf and I’m so glad I did. It is called The Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo with Kosho Uchiyama and Shohaku Okumura commenting on selected sayings and teachings of the Great Master Sawaki Kodo. He was himself, he spoke in a straightforward manner and I love what he has to say. Wise person and he didn’t wrap up the teaching in technical words which then needed explanation. Here is a taste from the start of the chapter, Opinions Gone to Seed.
Kodo Sawaki: Some opinions have passed their prime and lost relevance. For instance, when grownups lecture children, they often simply repeat ready-made opinions. The merely say, “Good is good; bad is bad.” When greens go to seed, they become hard and fibrous. They aren’t edible anymore. We should always see things with fresh eyes!
Often people say, “This is valuable!” But what’s really valuable? Nothing. When you die, you have to leave everything behind. Even the national treasures in Kyoto and Nara will sooner or later perish. It not a problem even if they all burn down.
Soon after Rev. Master Jiyu arrived in Japan in 1962 to study with Koho Zenji at Sojiji she had an understanding sometimes referred to as a first kensho. Koho Zenji sent her to visit Sawaki Kodo who was in Tokyo at the time to have the understanding confirmed. Which he did. He has a special place in my heart and I’m so glad to have run into this book full of his often irreverent words which point deeply and directly to the heart of practice.