Katagiri Roshi

‘Buddha put emphasis on being considerate to others before anything else. Why? Others are entirely identical with oneself. Oneself is entirely identical with others. You must be considerate to all sentient beings as if all sentient beings were within yourself. Do not kill all beings by judging others’ feelings by your own. If all sentient beings were your children, how would you take care of them? Others hold themselves beloved. One also holds oneself dear. Therefore to love oneself is to love others. Protecting oneself is the same as protecting others. The one who protects is not the self who is opposed to or conflicted with others.’ (From Wind Bell Vol X no. 1)

The universe offered me a serendipitous moment the other weekend. I was working on material for my second talk in San Rafael, and felt like it would be helpful to find the version of Samantabhadra’s Vows that Abbot Steve had given me at the end of my shuso practice period at Tassajara, so that I could use his wording in my talk. I knew it was in a trunk in the basement, in an envelope containing many other mementos from the practice period, from questions about compost to the list of everyone who sewed on the rakusu I was give.  I felt encouraged to gather up some letters and other papers to take down there while I was at it; I am very lazy about filing and organising these days, and things stay in little piles for months before I feel like sorting them. While I was doing this, I came across the small stack of old Wind Bell magazines that I had accumulated while I was at Zen Center. On the cover of one were the four Bodhisattva Vows in kanji, done by Katagiri Roshi. My knowledge of kanji is fairly superficial, but I know enough to recognise what they were. The whole slim magazine was given over to a series of talks given by him at Tassajara in 1970, presumably during the sesshin which ended the practice period (forty-two years before my shuso one), focused on the vows, but with other wonderful material as well; it was the line about killing others by judging their feelings by your own that jumped out most strongly at me.

Four Vows in kanji
A scan of the Wind Bell cover.

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