Sokei-an Sasaki

Sokei-an Shigetsu SasakiWhat follows is a description of the Zen teacher Sokei-an Sasaki in the words of Samuel Lewis in one of his spiritual autobiographies, “Dharma Transmission.”

Mohammed said, “I am an ordinary man like you.”  God made the ordinary man in His Image.  Sometimes this is manifested.  Sokei-an was not a Swami Ramdas or Sufi, whose love-vibrations permeate the atmosphere.  Neither did he show power or beauty or repose; he was, in one sense, the most ordinary person one could meet and, in another sense, the most complete.

 1930 was like any other year of importance in spiritual history.  One came to New York City, to the Roerich Museum, to study the Dharma in art-form.  Thus one entered the Zendo of that remarkably ordinary man.  When Boddhidharma faced the Emperor of China and told him there was nothing sacred in the entire universe, he might have also said that everything in the entire universe was sacred—for this was the teaching of Avatamsaka (Kegon) transmission.  Roshi was one of the most approachable men ever encountered.  Not until one met Swami Rangathananda Maharaj of the Ramakrishna Order years later did one meet someone so approachable, so simple and so utterly profound that words are but the shadows of conveyance.

One heard nine lectures but one had innumerable personal and impersonal sessions.  Each lecture was followed by six questions, this being the upper limit. If you were an intellectual, you received philosophy. But if you had the Dharma-Eye, you saw. One of his lectures was on “Dharma-Eye.”  This makes a reality of Samma Dhrishti, the first principle of Lord Buddha’s Eightfold Path.  When you received this spiritual Darshan, you received--you were taken beyond Maya and you entered the realm of the Immeasurable. 

Once Roshi was asked if he could see into the future.  He answered: “It is too terrible.”  Dharma-Transmission is not intellectual.  At that moment, Roshi opened these eyes to the whole history of the period 1930–1945 and some of these records were miraculously preserved from a fire which destroyed twenty-five years research and a whole Oriental library.  Roshi took one into Prajna without destroying levels between the seemingly finite and the seemingly infinite.

After Roshi, the scriptures became open books.  To the world the scriptures are full of mysteries and contradictions or even falsehoods, but after Roshi they became clear channels of light.  The Bodhisattvic Vow and the Great Vow of Samantabhadra are the basis of all Mahayana.  The rest is commentary or embellishment.

Since all the scriptures cannot include all the teachings of Jesus, since the Qur’an teaches that if all the pens were one pen and all the seas ink, they could not present the Revelation of Allah, one does not apologize for more details of Roshi.  Roshi gave us the Cat’s Yawn.