The Zen Teaching of Homeless Kōdō

This study page is a collection of information to supplement the book, The Zen Teaching of Homeless Kōdō. New material will be added periodically as it becomes available.

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Zen-Teaching-of-Homeless-Kodo_0Eschewing the entrapments of vanity, power, and money, “Homeless” Kōdō Sawaki Roshi refused to accept a permanent position as a temple abbot, despite repeated offers. Instead, he lived a traveling, “homeless” life, going from temple to temple, student to student, teaching and instructing and never allowing himself to stray from his chosen path. He is responsible for making Sōtō Zen available to the common people outside of monasteries.

Kosho Uchiyama expands and explains his teacher’s wisdom with his commentary. Trained in Western philosophy, he draws parallels between Zen teachings and the Bible, Descartes, and Pascal. Shohaku Okumura has also added his own commentary, grounding his teachers’ power and sagacity for the contemporary, Western practitioner.



Wisdom Publications (October 14, 2014) by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi (Author), Jokei Molly Delight Whitehead (Editor), Shohaku Okumura (Translator, Commentary)

Kōdō Sawaki

Kōdō Sawaki was one of the best-known Japanese Sōtō Zen masters and scholars of the 20th Century.

Kōdō Sawaki was one of the best known Japanese Sōtō Zen masters and scholars of the 20th Century.

Kōdō Sawaki (沢木 興道 Sawaki Kōdō, June 16, 1880 – December 21, 1965) was a Japanese Sōtō Zen teacher of the 20th century. Sawaki’s parents died early, and he was adopted by an uncle who then died. After his uncle’s death, Sawaki was raised by a gambler. When he was 16, he ran away from home to become a monk at Eihei-ji, one of the two head temples of the Sōtō Zen sect, and was ordained in 1899. However, he was drafted to serve in the Imperial Japanese Army during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 to minister to the wounded. He later became a Zen teacher, and during the 1930s he served as a professor at Komazawa University. In 1949, he took responsibility for Antai-ji, a zen temple in northern Kyoto. Because of his regular travels throughout Japan to teach zen, and against tradition his not becoming a conventional abbot of a home temple, he came to be known as “Homeless Kōdō” (“homeless” in the Japanese referring more to his lack of a temple than a residence). Sawaki died on December 21, 1965, at Antaiji. He was succeeded by a senior disciple, Kosho Uchiyama.

Sawaki Kōdō and Uchiyama Kosho

Sawaki Kōdō and Uchiyama Kosho

He is known for his rigorous emphasis on zazen, in particular the practice of shikantaza, or “just sitting”. He often called Zen “wonderfully useless,” discouraging any gaining idea or seeking after special experiences or states of consciousness.

[Retrieved from Wikipedia, 16 October 2014.]

About the conditions which led to Sawaki Kōdō’s greatness by Uchiyama Kōshō

Practice – Sanshin Zen Community



Kōdō Sawaki

From The Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo

From Commentary on The Song of Awakening by Yōka Daishi


More Information

4 thoughts on “The Zen Teaching of Homeless Kōdō

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