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.

A man who would be a success the world must first of all be a judge of moods, for untimely speeches will offend the ears and hurt the feelings of others, and so fail in their purpose. He has to beware of such occasions.

For such as truly love the world, a thousand years would fade like the dream of one night.

In the Province of Inaba there was a girl, the daughter of a certain lay priest of noble family, whose hand was asked in marriage by many that heard of her beauty. However, this girl ate nothing but chestnuts, never touching rice or other grain, and her parents therefore refused, saying that such an unusual thing ought not to be seen by others.

On a moonlit night, after a snowfall, or under cherry blossoms, it adds to our pleasure if, while chatting at our ease, we bring forth the wine cups.

The things they were wont to use have no heart, yet remain unchanged throughout the long, long years. A melancholy reflection.

A man?s character, as a rule, may be known from the place where he lives.

He is of low understanding who spends a whole life irked by common worldly matters.

Is there any of the usual social occasions which it is not difficult to avoid? But if you decide that you cannot very well ignore your worldly obligations, and that you will therefore carry them out properly, the demands on your time will multiply, bringing physical hardship and mental tension; in the end, you will spend your whole life pointlessly entangled in petty obligations. ?The day is ending, the way is long; my life already begins to stumble on its journey.' The time has come to abandon all ties. I shall not keep promises, nor consider decorum. Let anyone who cannot understand my feelings feel free to call me mad, let him think I am out of my senses, that I am devoid of human warmth. Abuse will not bother me; I shall not listen if praised.

Once in the month of September I passed over the plain of Kurusu and sought out a certain village among the hills beyond, when, threading my way far down a narrow moss-grown path, I came upon a lonely hut. There was never a sound to greet me, save the dripping of water from a pipe buried in fallen leaves, but I knew that someone lived there, for sprays of chrysanthemum and maple leaves bestrewed the shelf before the shrine, and "Ah!" thought I, "In such a place a man can spend his days." But as I stood and gazed in wonder, I perceived in the garden beyond a great orange tree, its branches weighted down with fruit. It was strongly closed in on all sides by a fence. This broke the spell, and I thought to myself, "If only that tree had not been there!"

There is a charm about a neat and proper dwelling house, although this world, it is true, is but a temporary abode. Even the moonshine, when it strikes into the house where a good man lives in peaceful ease, seems to gain in friendly brilliancy.

A well-bred man does not show strong likings. His enjoyment appears careless. It is rustic boors who take all pleasures grossly. They squirm and struggle to get under the blossoms, they stare intently, they drink wine, they link verses, and at last they heartlessly break off great branches. They dip their hands and feet in springs; they get down and step on the snow, leaving footmarks; there is nothing they do not regard as their own.

However gifted and accomplished a young man may be, if he has no fondness for women, one has a feeling of something lacking, as of a precious wine cup without a bottom. Admire the condition of a lover! Drenched with dews and frosts and aimlessly wandering; ever concerned to shun the world's reproof and escape his parents' reproaches; hither and thither pursued by doubt and distress; and spending his nights withal sleepless upon a solitary couch. But it is well that a man do not become addicted to lewdness, a constant and familiar companion of women.

It does not turn to summer after spring has closed, nor does the fall come when the summer ends. The spring ahead of time puts on a summer air, already in the summer the fall is abroad, and soon the fall grows cold. In the tenth month comes a brief space of spring weather. Grass grows green, plum blossoms bud. So with the falling of leaves from the trees. It is not that the trees bud, once the leaves have fallen, but that because they are budding from beneath, the leaves, unable to withstand the strain, therefore must fall. An onward-urging influence is at work within, so that stage presses on stage with exceeding haste.

One of the sayings of the venerable sages, called Ichigon H”dan.

There is no such mournful time as follows on a death. For the days of retirement a crowd of people go up together to some mountain village, into a cramped and incommodious house, and there they busily perform the offices for the dead. So the appointed time passes with unwonted quickness. The last day is pitiless indeed; for in silence they gather together their possessions, each for himself, and go their several ways. Only when they have returned to their own homes will they begin to feel exceeding sad.

Action and principle are fundamentally the same. If the outstanding appearances do not offend, the inward reality is certain to mature. We should not insist on our unbelief, but honour and respect these things [i.e., religion].

I recall the months and years I spent as the intimate of someone whose affections have now faded like cherry blossoms scattering even before a wind blew.

It is a fine thing when a man who thoroughly understands a subject is unwilling to open his mouth, and only speaks when he is questioned.

One should never make a show of having a deep knowledge of any subject. Well-bred people do not talk in a superior way even about things they have a good knowledge of. It is people who come from the country who offer opinions unasked, as though versed in all manner of accomplishments. Of course some among them do have a really enviable knowledge, and it is their air of self-conceit that is so stupid.

There may be some who will recall the dead, and think of him with grief. But soon they themselves must pass away. Then how can later generations grieve, who know him only by repute? After a time they go no longer to his tomb, and people do not even know his name or who he was. True, some feeling folk may gaze with pity on what is now but the growth of grasses of succeeding springs; but at last there comes a day when even the pine trees that groaned in the storms, not lasting out their thousand years of life, are split for fuel, and the ancient grave, dug up and turned to rice field, leaves never a trace behind.

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.

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

Japanese Author, Court Official and Buddhist Monk