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Happiness and Sadness
by Taisen Deshimaru Roshi

Kodo Sawaki's notes are very interesting,

What is real happiness? The horse and the cat who try to figure out what true happiness is can't agree because their food and their sex are different.

Each person is different, but they have one thing in common: most of them, to the day they die, won't know what true happiness is.

A Japanese proverb says, "A gold coin is worthless to a cat."

Most of the things is our social life lead to an dead end. You think you have time. What direction do you turn, which way is not a dead end? Zazen.

"Sorrow, bad luck . . ."

Kiti, is luck; kyo, bad luck.

Ka, is sadness, bad; fuku, happiness.

Ze, is the good, what is true; hi, as is the hi in hishiryo.

Aku, this is about good and bad, but further [?] this means true and false.

You must be beyond good and bad, luck and misfortune, happiness and sadness, true and false. Since these are formless, they are ungraspable.


Everyone wants to obtain the merits of religion and tries to run after satori, even during zazen. They only want to have satori. So satori without zazen appeared, satori without Zen, speaking without zazen, writing without zazen. Many books are made like this, without the experience of zazen."

Kodo Sawaki wrote in a very simple way.

Everyone loves to get money without working, so people love to gamble. If they don't win, it is a dead end. Many people have experienced this (speculating on sugar for example.)

This is why in modern life, in modern civilization, new religions, new sects appear that seek only profit.

People love movement.

Kodo Sawaki's observations are quite interesting.

At the cinema, at the theatre, everything is in movement: faces move, the actors, actresses. But zazen means not to move.


Our floating life: it is only a floating world, it is only a name, a word. In our life we pass the time with words. Everyone was naked at birth. But our parents gave us a name and dressed us. Next we nursed. This is how life begins. Then education gets complicated. We change, change more and more, become complicated. Everyone is very cute when they're born, later on they're not so cute at all. There is no true education.

Everyone wants to be famous, strong, intelligent. "I want to be strong, intelligent, I want to be rich, make a name for myself. . ." Nothing but the word, right up to the coffin. But at the end, we are naked again, and we go into the coffin. The word has no value.

I was very impressed hearing this during a conference by Kodo Sawaki. I had read many books, but what he said was deeper and totally impressed me. To this day I have kept his notes.

They have published books that record the very short phrases of Kodo Sawaki. And when I have time, I read the Shobogenzo, the commentaries, books of philosohy, all the books of commentary on the sutras. But in the end, I come back to these notes from Kodo Sawaki. All the rest are totally complicated. The book of my master is very short, very deep. It is real.

To the question: "What is happiness? What is sadness?" man gives a mistaken answer. "This," he says, "is happiness." But it is not true happiness. "This is sadness." But it is true happiness.

Man makes mistakes because he has no roots. He's like a child who cries for chocolate and smiles when he gets it. Most people are like this.

People are very simple, not complicated. Some only think of money, others only of health, others only of honors, others only occupy themselves with their beauty.

This is very deep and true. If you do zazen, you become conscious that you too are like this.

He also wrote:

Some throughout all their lives, only think of money, others only think of eating.

Some are "busy", others not at all. They only sit at the café from morning to night, without working. Others never stop being busy, busy, busy. They are like chickens or canaries busy eating, dawn to dusk.

I always look at the chicken at the Gendronnière. Aside from "cluck cluck cluck", they only eat and lay eggs. Then at the end, they're eaten.

These short phrases are koans, new koans. Kodo Sawaki always said that Zen is a koan but as the times and eras change, we must create authentic koans here and now and not content ourselves with historical koans.

Living without money isn't pratical, but money isn't everything.

In the same way. Life isn't good without sexual desires, but we should understand that sex isn't everything, that it is necessary to sublimate. Sublimation is the most important. Those who don't have sexual desires are like the dead, like cadavers. Even a beggar sometimes smiles. Even a rich man cries.

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