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Buddhadharma : Spring 2006
buddhadharma| 37 |spring 2006 would be if I at least had something to exchange, like a door-to-door salesman. I thought of giving up and doing some kind of part-time work. On the other hand, I thought of all the truly religious figures in Buddhist history, beginning with Shaky- amuni, who lived by takuhatsu, and the Chris- tians in the Middle Ages, like the Franciscans and dominicans, who also lived by takuhatsu. I thought there might be a crucial relationship between takuhatsu and religion that I could never really know. If there were some intrinsic reason why a person aspiring to live out a religious life should do takuhatsu, what could it be? Ten years passed as I thought about this. It was just at the end of that period that I read a book about the scientists who developed the atomic bomb that laid waste to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the midst of all that horror, no one could imagine what sort of human beings could have made such an accursed thing. I myself thought that it must have been the work of some inhuman devil who never shed a tear and had ice in his veins instead of blood. Of course, it turned out that they were not some special breed of ani- mal; they were none other than the nuclear scien- tists in the vanguard of physics. How could these men have made such a terrible weapon, one that, even now, could very well lead to the complete annihilation of all human beings on this planet? Scientists around the world had raced to be the first ones to make such a bomb, and in the end the Americans had won the race. The horrible result of dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki pricked the consciences of these top atomic scientists and they wanted to stop further research in this area, so they requested that they be allowed to return to their universities. The American government said they could return to their laboratories, but at the same time, the government issued an order to each of the universities not to rehire those scientists. Since all of the science departments at these universities were receiving financial aid from the government, the universities were obligated to follow those orders. Consequently, all the universities turned down the scientists’ requests to return, and the unfortunate scientists returned to the government facilities and continued their work on new atomic weapons. Thinking about this, I couldn’t help but feel the weakness of human beings when confronted with money. That was when I realized that takuhatsu is important for any person intending to live by true religious teachings, because once you receive money from one designated person, you obligate yourself to bow to the money or to its source. Of course, out on takuhatsu, I might have to lower my head several hundred or even a thou- sand times. yet I am not bowing to the money, nor do I have to cavil or get down on my knees. In all the years I have been at Antaiji, I have never solicited a penny from anyone. In that sense, I am my own person. Since Antaiji is a monastery, it has received all sorts of donations. Still, no mat- ter how large or small the amount, to the extent that I haven’t solicited it, it is no different from a donation put into my bowl when I am out on takuhatsu. For that reason, it is not necessary to bow and scrape before the money or its source. I have always tried to live my life in accord with religious teachings, although I am not what anyone would call orthodox. I have been able to act this way due to the support I have received through takuhatsu. If you are intending to live out a genuine religious life, then you must learn never to bow before money. And, for that, you must never be afraid of being poor. Once I passed fifty, takuhatsu became increas- ingly difficult for me. Fortunately, my takuhatsu life ended in the spring of 1962, because of the royalties I began to receive from the books I had published on my hobby of origami. I am grateful for that. I have had no teacher or master or boss to bow down before, and the royalties are not some- thing I need to bow to either. In any event, as long as you keep your desires within the parameters of your income, I see no necessity to bow down before Mammon. But if the royalties on my ori- gami books ever dry up so that I no longer have even the bare minimum to support myself, you will see me back out on the streets. Uchiyama Roshi at Antaiji monastery in 1970.