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Buddhadharma : Spring 2006
spring 2006| 32 |buddhadharma feelings of being pursued, and of living from hand to mouth. I am not talking about my present-day life. The period I’m talking about began in the summer of 1949, when I first arrived in Kyoto, and lasted until the spring of 1962. That is, from the age of thirty- seven until I reached fifty. So, perhaps because there is a certain amount of distance between those days and my life now, I am able to talk about the sweet- ness and bitterness of takuhatsu. THe LIFeSTyLe OF TAKUHATSU Once you start down the path of poverty, there seems to be no limit to how far down you can go. I had been prepared for it by the life I led during the war, prior to settling at Antaiji. In 1949, when I first began going out on takuhatsu in Kyoto, the emotion and poverty of the war years had not yet subsided. In that kind of economically difficult environment, the number of fellow practitioners diminished greatly. Finally, there were only two of us left at Antaiji, the leaf-flute artist yokoyama Sodo and me. On top of that, Antaiji had dete- riorated so badly during the war that Sodo had to go out on takuhatsu for funds to refurbish the broken-down temple, while I went on takuhatsu to supply us with food and also to cover sesshin expenses. I was not only going out on takuhatsu, I also had to take care of the vegetable garden and fer- tilize it, cut and chop the wood for cooking and heating the bath, plus make our pickle supply, weed and keep up the grounds, clean the temple, and so forth. Also, I prepared three meals a day, and if I didn’t go out on takuhatsu, I had my laun- dry to do. So, obviously, I couldn’t blithely go out on takuhatsu like Ryokan and enjoy playing with the children along the way. Far from it, I had to keep my mind on how to juggle doing takuhatsu and caring for the temple. I had to figure out how to cut corners everywhere to get a little extra time for zazen and study. Being careless with even one piece of firewood meant that I would have to take that much more time to chop and cut up wood. Or, if I left a light on needlessly, that meant I had to go out on takuhatsu to pay for it. Cutting back on needless expenditures was absolutely critical for the kind of frugal life we were leading. Our life was always on the edge. Whenever Sawaki Roshi came back to Antaiji to lead ses- shin, I wanted to have a special treat of lotus root on his tray for him. I would go to the market to get some but not have the few yen the greengrocer asked for. Here was this forty-year-old adult hav- ing to say, “Oh, my God, if it is going to cost me that much, I will take something else!” We were really in a pitiable state. If I had had a wife and family to take care of, I would have broken down completely. Fortunately, I was single then. Needless to say, in those days I was never able to purchase any new clothing, such as robes. Actually, from the time the war began in 1941, I was never able to buy any new clothing, and everything I had was tattered. even the covering on my futon was all torn up. Going to bed was like covering myself with the cotton padding that’s inside futons. If I got sick for a couple days and had to rest, my whole room seemed to be awash in dust balls of cotton batting. Old newspapers served as toilet paper. Our washcloths looked like some sort of netting, since I used them far beyond the point where they resembled washcloths. even though they only cost ten or fifteen yen at the time, I couldn’t afford new ones. I did have one bad habit that I just couldn’t give up: smoking. I would collect half-smoked cigarettes left behind by guests and smoke the donfarber