“Losing is satori. Winning is illusion.” — Kodo Sawaki Roshi

Western values based culture teaches us that winning, climbing the ladder, reaching the peak is the ultimate goal. “The winner takes it all”. Losers are pitied and no one wants to be one. At the same time those who actually reach the proverbial peak know that winning is not the answer. The ladder never ends and it does not lead to freedom.

What a perspective shifter then when a realised being, a Zen monk known as “Homeless Kodo” tells us otherwise – actually, losing is satori, enlightenment. Winning, victory is just an illusion. Meditate on that! 🙂  These days I prefer to hang out with homeless monks and other realised beings rather than neurotic type A achievers. It took years to get my priorities straight…

Below is excerpt #21, I suggest you read all of them. You can find them here: 17 frank pieces of life advice from a Zen master (requires Tricyle subscription) or here: Excerpts from “To you” by Sawaki Kodo Roshi (as translated by Jesse Haasch and Muho).

21. To you who would like more money, love, status and fame

Heaven and earth give, air gives, water gives, plants give, animals give, humans give. All things give of themselves to each other. It’s only within this reciprocal giving that we can survive – regardless of whether we’re thankful for it or not.There’s nothing we need to complain about.

Nobody was granted life due to their personal merit. And no one can live just by using their own strength. But nonetheless, we’re all still only concerned with our own pocketbook.

Stupidity means being preoccupied with your own body.
Wisdom says, “I am what I am, no matter how things end up.”
A person outside of the Way is someone who only thinks of gain and loss. A devil is someone who makes a profit off of this.

What a bore: making a long face and complaining about having no money, nothing to eat, and being stuck in debt. It’s only because you believe that you have the right to revel in life and always feel good that you moan and groan about your poverty.

Once during the war, I visited a coal mine. With the same outfit and head-lamp as the miners, I got into the lift and down we went. At one point when we were going down it seemed to me as if suddenly we were going up again. But when I looked with the lamp at the wall of the shaft, I saw that we were still going down. In the beginning when we were accelerating downwards, we could really feel that we were going downwards. Just when the velocity changed it seemed to us as if we were going up again. In exactly the same way, when we think about our lives, we always go wrong when we mistake the fluctuating amounts for the sum.

Losing is satori. Winning is illusion.

Not coveting a single thing is the greatest gift you can give to the universe.

About nomadoftheuniverse

Nomad of the Universe, nobody special, Buddhist, student of Ram Dass. I write about happiness, meaning and spirituality. My book on Love Addiction is out on Amazon now.
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1 Response to “Losing is satori. Winning is illusion.” — Kodo Sawaki Roshi

  1. Wonderful thoughts Lola. A wonderful way to live. Thank you for pointing me to “Homeless Kodo”!

    Liked by 1 person

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