Temple of Peace

The greatness of Sawaki Roshi


Sawaki Rôshi:

Someone said, "Sawaki Roshi wasted his whole life in zazen."

Uchiyama Rôshi:

This was his self-appraisal in the series called "The Unpainted Face," published in the Asahi Journal last year (1965). Since his death on the 21st of December, his followers have come to Antaiji to offer incense for the repose of his soul. Most of them do not remember him as a person who, "wasted his whole life in zazen." One person said, "Sawaki Roshi told off General Ugaki." Another said, "When he encountered old Mr. Matsunaga, he did such and such." Still another said, " When I asked him about the Suez Canal affair I was very impresses with his answer, alhough I didn't quite understand what he meant. He said, 'You should cover the canal with a kesa.' "

In the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) he was a courageous and highly decorated soldier. He always sadi, "As a daredevil, I am second to none." But then he would say, "That is only the greatness of Mori no Ishimatsu (a gambler famous for his bravery)."

Sawaki Roshi was from birth a vital and stimulating person who dominated other people and attracted them like a magnet. That was his karma, as natural for him as a cat catching mice or a musk deer emitting an attractive fragrance; it was not his greatness as a Buddhist.

Sooner or later a collecton of anecdotes about his life will be published, but that will only entertain people, not teach them Buddhism. Sometimes we miss the point in praising a person. In this case, there is no connection between his, "wasting his whole life in zazen" and the greatness of his character.

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