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by Kodo Sawaki Roshi

Nowadays, all zazen groups or masters who transmit the law have signs indicating their presence.

A long time ago in India, large banners were put up. And even now, in certain regions, flags of all colors hang and fly in the breeze, a souvenir of ancient times.

In our language nowadays, hanging flags indicating Dharma, and establishing true doctrine, means expressing one's own experience relating to satori. Those who speak of Dharma without ever having experienced it are like parrots. They quote words and expressions of others, just like a dictionary. Teaching the Dharma means relating your personal experience.

All day long, we use expressions which mean absolutely nothing, like saying, "I'm fine, thank you," even when we are really not feeling well. These are words which reflect nothing at all.

Progress? Regression? Who knows what goes in the right or wrong direction? What's good and what's bad? A cure can be a poison and a poison can be a cure.

In the Gion section of Kyoto, lkkyu Ocho had a disciple named Chigoku Taiy who was a high class prostitute. When she realized that hell didn't exist and that she was Buddha, all her customers left her feeling totally illuminated and became, shortly thereafter, fervent followers of the Way.

I often hear people say that they prefer a certain yoken [sweet bean paste] as compared to another. They are imported from Kyoto to Osaka and vice versa. Why always seek elsewhere? As far as I'm concerned, rice balls and radishes with saumur satisfy me just fine.

A long time ago, I was travelling by train in the Kansai region. I remember reading an article in the local newspaper about the vast quantities of sardines caught in the sea of Isu, and what was done with them. There was a photo of a beach covered with these sardines.

Sardines are considered to be very ordinary fish because there are great quantities of them in our seas. If they were fished only once a year, I'm sure they would be considered as a great delicacy. Trout, on the other hand, is considered to be a luxury as it is very rare.

I once joined some fishermen in the Tamagawa river, but I didn't see one single trout hanging from a line. Sardines swim in schools and with one swipe of the net, you can catch mountains of them. They are transported by truck, salted, dried, and canned. The surplus sardines are sold to be used as fertilizer. We don't have a very high regard for these fish, but they are really rather tasty. In fact, they would certainly be considered even better than trout if they were more rare.

Good and bad are relative concepts which don't really exist. It's the same for truth and illusions. The good could not exist without the bad. It's simply man's karma which produces dualism and determines what's good and bad. What makes men happy in their tiny little world? They like to have fun and receive gifts. They consider a birth to be a happy event -whereas it could be something very unfortunate if the baby is ill or becomes a hooligan. Marriage is also considered to be a reason for congratulating-even if the bride might be marrying a long time drunkard.

Joy and suffering are relative notions which can change and be deceiving. Nothing allows anyone to say that they are 100% sure that an event is a happy one and another an unhappy one. There is bad within the good and goodness within the bad. Good and bad within themselves don't really exist. For the time being, the following comment by Shinran is evident :

One must not find virtue in glory, nor feel fear of evil.

Each and every man is neither good nor bad.

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