Muho: Yeah. I felt that those parts that are chaotic are my job to fix. It’s like the story of the father and the son in The Lotus Sutra. At first, you think you are a guest in this house and you complain but you eventually realise it was actually your house all along. I was like the son.
So when Miyaura came up with this idea of no takuhatsu, it made sense to me at the time. And I tried my best with the vegetables. I tried to be serious. But it didn’t work so well and when the whole thing started with Watanabe, it got even worse.
Edward: But the doubts you had before had gone?
Muho: Those had mostly gone. I didn’t feel trapped mentally. When I came back it was hard but it was more about, how do we run this place? We were trying to run this place like Watanabe but it didn’t make sense with three unsui when he had 30 in the beginning. But that was a real life dilemma. In the beginning, I wasn’t worrying about how much rice we had, or how we were going to pay the electricity.
I just felt stuck in life. Do I want to live? If yes, how? I don’t want to live the rest of my life like I feel now. I didn’t feel at home in the universe. At Tofukuji, I realised that wherever I go, I am always at home. And Antaiji felt most like home. And when I returned home, I realised that I had a big job here to tidy it up. The only thing was that I didn’t know was how Miyaura wanted me to tidy it up.
But the fundamental problem that I didn’t feel at home in the world, had been solved. That was the big problem. The problem that I didn’t know how to organise that home was secondary.
Edward: How would you describe your relationship with Miyaura?
Muho: It was never super close. I had the feeling that when I came back from Hosshinji, this guy S. had a close relationship with Miyaura. He was trusted and I was a little envious of that.
Looking back at it, probably before the thing with Watanabe even started, I think Miyaura was a little bit afraid of me. Not so much that he thought I would betray him. But because I had a scholarship to study at Kyoto University, which is considered to be a lead university in Japan. In Miyaura’s eyes, he saw that I could have a future in society but I was throwing all of that away. Very few people who come to Antaiji actually do that. They come because they want three meals a day and want a place to stay.
I felt he was insecure to have to deal with that. He was happy to ordain me but even when he ordained me he said, if you feel you would rather go back to Kyoto University and continue your studies there, you can always do that. It was the opposite of Watanabe, you have to stay for 10 years. When Miyaura said that, I felt that I wanted to stay there more.
I was this intellectual guy. I would ask questions. Some of them of real existential value to me, some of them of pure theoretical value. And Miyaura wasn’t the type of person that would react to that in a good way. It wasn’t that he didn’t try to, it was just that he felt that he was a person that couldn’t have engaged in that type of discussion like Uchiyama or Watanabe could.
For me, I read in the books that it’s not about theory. I had a Zen master there who is not an intellectual guy but is a great example on the tractor or the power shovel. He is actually demonstrating it with his body. He is maintaining this place where I can sit for 1800 hours a year. I have nothing more to ask. At least that’s what I thought at the beginning. But after two years, I thought something was missing. And at Tofukuji I realised it was this attitude of expecting something more. There was an illusion on my side – like Uchiyama said he thought he would become like Sawaki – where I thought that if I stayed at Antaiji for several years I would become a good farmer, carpenter or cook.
I felt at the beginning that Miyaura was rejecting me a little bit because I was trying to prove I wasn’t an intellectual. But I still was, even when I came back from Tofukuji. I was different to him. So there was always a certain distance I would say. A distance that I didn’t want to keep, that I would have loved to jump over.
Edward: But from a distance, you were able to appreciate him in a new way?
Muho: Certainly. But I had the feeling that even though there were other guys who it was easier for him to get along with, in the end, there was always this distance. Even when he seemed to have found someone who was like a buddy to him, after two years that would break again. Because of this insecurity he had.
Edward: It happened with S. too?
Muho: Yes. S. had a certain idea about Antaiji and Miyaura gave him some liberties but at the end of the day, he was criticising him. S. thought he did more than his best and didn’t deserve the criticism. One thing was that he had a girlfriend waiting for him. So he decided, why do I this to myself and my girlfriend? He had dharma transmission already at the time, so he said I’m going to leave and become a temple priest.
Edward: How many people did Miyaura give transmission to?
Muho: Five. First there was the olest monk who had come from a Rinzai monastery. He was here for seven years and probably got shiho a year or two before that. With J. I could imagine it was around the same time. T. left before he got transmission but somebody told him that with your bad eyesight and hearing you can’t get any other job. Get your transmission so at least you can become a priest. So, after a year or two, he came back and, to my surprise, he gave it to him. That was before I went to Tofukuji.
When I came back from Hosshinji with S., maybe a year or two afterwards, he got his transmission a year after. I got mine two years before I left in 1999. Soon after Uchiyama’s death.