“Progress” Is Nonsense

Excerpts from
To you
by Sawaki Kôdô Rôshi

Translated from Japanese by Jesse Haasch and Muhô

“We mustn’t forget that today’s science and culture have only developed out of the lowest levels of consciousness.

Everybody is talking about culture, but what is it besides a refinement of our illusions? However much we iron out our drives, from a Buddhist standpoint, it’s got nothing to do with progress or civilization. Everyone is talking these days about progress, but I wonder in which direction we’re actually progressing.

When you observe insects in a tank, you see how they bite into each other and hold on with all their might. It must be amusing to observe from another corner of the universe how humans stock up on atomic and hydrogen bombs.

Acting clever while at the same time being the biggest idiots – that’s human fate.

People love it when things are complicated. Though things are complicated enough – even when we try to keep them as simple as possible – there are still some who make an effort to be especially complicated in everything they do.

The modern world musters up all of its knowledge just to run down a dead end street.

People were idiots in the old days too. They wasted a fortune in gold and manpower building castles. And what was it all for? To bicker with each other. Today, people are even dumber. They build atomic and hydrogen bombs in order to erase humanity with one push of a button.

How is it that humanity itself, unlike its science, hasn’t progressed in the least?

An idiot sits at the computer, a dimwit in the cockpit of the jet and a madman at the control panel of the atomic rockets – that’s the current problem.

Perhaps we can save our friends with atomic and hydrogen bombs – but not our enemies. Only zazen is capable of saving friends as well as enemies.”


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