Mr. Clean stands guard before the latrine
Reminding us of the awesome truth that to live Means to take life.
A Conversation with Kobosuna-sama
Oh, is that you Kobosuna? How are you keeping?
I'm fine. Good health is my saving grace; after all it has to be, my job is to guard the toilet against spills.
Yes, that is what your name means in Japanese, isn't it, "don't spill". By the way, why is it that your father always looks so fierce?
What do you expect, his name is UsusamaMyo-o.
Oh, you mean the Buddhist deity whose statue is placed outside the toilet in Zen temples?
The one with the mantra, "On Kurodano unjaku"?
Yes, that's him. The mantra has the power to cleanse impurities and, after all, the toilet is an important place.
That's true, Where would we be without them?
I am not talking just about its practical aspects, the toilet also helps us understand the true essence of life. In Zen Buddhism, everything in life is considered to be a form of training. Waking up in the morning, washing, cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, eating, taking a bath, and sweeping leaves in the garden, it is all part of religious training.
But what does that have to do with the toilet?
Well, what happens after you have eaten a meal?
I feel sleepy.
That's not what I mean. You want to go to the toilet! The toilet is also a place where you can train.
That's true. Whether you are raising a baby, looking after the old or sick, or even if you keep a cat or dog, most of work involved consists of feeding them then cleaning up afterwards. When I was young I went to hospital to have an operation on my stomach and while I was on a drip feed, I realized how much better it would be if I didn't have to go to the toilet all the time. The doctors kept injecting me with liquids and these had to go somewhere. I found it difficult to move at the time and I really hated having to cope.
You cannot live without food, but what do you think food is? It is the bodies of other living things. When you go to the toilet, you see what happens to them and this allows you to meditate on the true essence of life.
I see. It is true that rice, vegetables and meat all come from living things. In Japan, people say, "Itadakimasu" before they start a meal and this means, "I'm sorry, but I cannot live without eating your body. Please forgive me, I'm very grateful and will not let your sacrifice go to waste."
Image rights: YABUUCHI Satoshi photo by Katsura Endo
About Satoshi YABUUCHI
Japanese, b. 1953, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan, based in Tokyo, Japan