Yoshida Kenko

Yoshida
Kenko
1283
1350

Japanese Author, Court Official and Buddhist Monk

Author Quotes

Why is it so hard to do a thing Now, at the moment when one thinks of it.

You should bear this advice in mind on every occasion. (In the same way) he who follows the path of learning thinks confidently in the evening that the morning is coming, and in the morning that the evening is coming, and that he will then have plenty of time to study more carefully ; less likely still is he to recognize the waste of a single moment. How hard indeed is it to do a thing at once-now, the instant that you think of it!

You should never put the new antlers of a deer to your nose and smell them. They have little insects that crawl into the nose and devour the brain.

Although some will say, "After all this time, why stand on ceremony?'' I myself feel that it is a sign of genuine and proper feeling when even the most inseparable friends treat one another, if the occasion demands, with due reserve and decorum. On the other hand, it is sometimes well for people who are not intimate to speak freely.

I suppose we all feel, when we hear stories of ancient times, that the houses were more or less the same as people's houses nowadays, and think of the people as like people we see about us. And am I alone in having sometimes within me a feeling that words I have just heard, or things I have just seen, have happened once before? When, I cannot recollect, but none the less they certainly have happened.

It is a great error to be superior to others....It is such pride as this that makes a man appear a fool, makes him abused by others, and invites disaster. A man who is truly versed in any art will of his own accord be clearly aware of his own deficiency; and therefore, his ambition being never satisfied, he ends by never being proud.

One should write not unskillfully in the running hand, be able to sing in a pleasing voice and keep good time to music; and lastly, a man should not refuse a little wine when it is pressed upon him.

They speak of the degenerate, final phase of the world, yet how splendid is the ancient atmosphere, uncontaminated by the world, that still prevails within the palace walls.

Ambition never comes to an end.

I wonder what feelings inspire a man to complain of ?having nothing to do.? I am happiest when I have nothing to distract me and I am completely alone.

It is a joyful thing indeed to hold intimate converse with a man after one's own heart, chatting without reserve about things of interest or the fleeting topics of the world; but such, alas, are few and far between. Not that one desires a companion who will sit opposite and never utter a word in contradiction?one might as well be alone. Far better in hours of loneliness the company of one who, while he will listen with respect to your views, will disagree a little, and argue, saying "Yes, that is so, but?For this reason such and such is the case." And yet, with those who are not of the same way of thinking or are contentious, a man can discuss only things of passing interest, for the truth is there must not be any wide gulf between bosom friends.

Pleasant also to slip away and go into retreat in some mountain temple.

Things which seem in poor taste: too many personal effects cluttering up the place where one is sitting; too many brushes in an ink-box; too many Buddhas in a family temple; too many stones and plants in a garden; too many children in a house; too many words on meeting someone; too many meritorious deeds recorded in a petition. Things which are not offensive, no matter how numerous: books in a book cart, rubbish in a rubbish heap.

And so, for both priest and layman, there must be no talk of moods in things they must needs accomplish. They must be free from this care and that, they must not let their feet linger.

If a man conforms to society, his mind will be captured by the filth of the outside world, and he is easily led astray; if he mingles in society, he must be careful that his words do not offend others, and what he says will not at all be what he feels in his heart. He will joke with others only to quarrel with them, now resentful, now happy, his feelings in constant turmoil. Calculations of advantage will wantonly intrude, and not a moment will be free from considerations of profit and loss. Intoxication is added to delusion, and in a state of inebriation the man dreams. People are all alike: they spend their days running about frantically, oblivious to their insanity?

It is affecting, too, after the lapse of many years, to come across the letters even of one who is still living, and to call to mind the year and the occasion when they were written.

Rather than to see the moon shining over thousands of miles, it sinks deeper into the heart to watch it when at last it appears toward the dawn. It never moves one so much as when seen in gaps between the trees, pale green over the tops of the cedars on distant hills, or behind the clustering clouds after showers of rain. When it shines bright on the leaves of oak and evergreen, and they look wet, the sight sinks deeply into one's being, and one feels "Oh! for a friend with whom to share this!" and longs for the capital. And must we always look upon the moon and the blossoms with the eye alone? No, in the very thought of it, in the spring though we do not go abroad, on moonlit nights though we keep to our room, there is great comfort and delight.

This again is exceeded by the changes of birth, age, sickness, and death. The four seasons have still an appointed order. The hour of death waits for no order. Death does not even come from the front. It is ever pressing on from behind. All men know of death, but they do not expect it of a sudden, and it comes upon them unawares. So, though the dry flats extend far out, soon the tide comes and floods the beach.

Are we only to look at flowers in full bloom, at the moon when it is clear? No, to look out on the rain and long for the moon, to draw the blinds and not to be aware of the passing of the spring?these arouse even deeper feelings. There is much to be seen in young boughs about to flower, in gardens strewn with withered blossom.

If a man strictly observe the rules of his way, and keep a rein on himself, then no matter what way it be, he will be a scholar of renown and be a teacher of multitudes.

It is desirable to have a knowledge of true literature, of composition and versifying, of wind and string instruments; and it is well, moreover, to be learned in precedent and court ceremonies, so as to be a model for others. One should write not unskillfully in the running hand, be able to sing in a pleasing voice and keep good time to music; and, lastly, a man should not refuse a little wine when it is pressed upon him.

Should we only be interested to view the cherry blossoms at their peak, or the moon when it is full? To yearn for the moon when it is raining, or to be closed up in one?s room, failing to notice the passing of Spring, is far more moving. Treetops just before they break into blossoms, or gardens strewn with fallen flowers are just as worthy of notice. There is much to see in them. Is it any less wonderful to say, in the preface to a poem, that it was written on viewing the cherry blossoms just after they had peaked, or that something had prevented one from seeing them altogether, than to say on seeing the cherry blossoms? Of course not. Flowers fall and the moon sets, these are the cyclic things of the world, but still there are brutish people who say that there is nothing left worth seeing, and fail to appreciate.

This is a story of the priests of the Ninnaji. They had a feast to celebrate the farewell to the world of a young acolyte about to enter the priesthood. In their revels they became drunken, and the acolyte, beginning to feel merry, took a three-legged iron pot that lay nearby and put it on his head. Then, though it fitted very tight, he flattened out his nose, pulled the pot over his face, and began to dance. The whole company grew merry beyond measure, until after performing awhile, he at length tried to pull it off?but in vain!

Are we to look at cherry blossoms only in full bloom, the moon only when it is cloudless? To long for the moon while looking on the rain, to lower the blinds and be unaware of the passing of the spring - these are even more deeply moving. Branches about to blossom or gardens strewn with flowers are worthier of our admiration.

If man were to fade away like the dews of Adashino, never to vanish like the smoke over Toribeyama, but lingered on forever in the world, how things would lose their power to move us! The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty.

Author Picture
First Name
Yoshida
Last Name
Kenko
Birth Date
1283
Death Date
1350
Bio

Japanese Author, Court Official and Buddhist Monk