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.

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.

It is well for a man to be frugal, to abstain from luxury, to possess no treasure nor to covet this world's goods. Since olden times there has rarely been a sage who was wealthy.

Someone remarked, ?In the Mountains there is a man-eating beast called the nekomata.? Another man said, ?They?re not only found in the mountains. Even in this neighborhood cats have grown in nekomata, with time and experience, and some have been known to eat people.? A priest named Amidabutsu, a linked-verse poet who lived near the Gyoganji, heard this story and decided that he would have to be more careful henceforth when he traveled alone. Not long afterwards he was returning home alone after having spent much of the night composing linked-verse at a certain place. He had reached the bank of a stream, when suddenly a nekomata, looking exactly as it had been described, bounded up to his feet. It leaped on the priest and tried to bite his throat. The priest was so terrified he had not the strength to defend himself. His legs gave way and he tumbled into the river, crying, ?Help! A nekomata! A nekomata?s after me!? People came running out from nearby houses with lighted torches and found the priest, a well-known figure in the neighborhood. ?What happened?? they cried. When they lifted him from the river they discovered he had fallen in with the fan and little boxes won as prizes for his linked-verse clutched to his bosom. Looking as if only a miracle had saved him, he crawled back into his house. Apparently his dog, recognizing his master in the dark, had jumped on him.

This sobered the feast, and they were thrown into confusion and doubt, wondering what they should do. While they were debating, the pot cut into his head, and blood began to flow and his face swelled up so that he could hardly breathe. They tried to break it, but it was not easily broken, and as the force of the blow went to his head, he could not bear it, and they were obliged to stop. They did not know what to do next, so, throwing a black gauze cloak over the three legs, which looked like horns, they led him, supported by a staff, to the house of a physician in Kyoto. People looked at them with amazement as they went along.

As a rule the tales which get abroad in the world are false. . . . People always exaggerate things. More so, when months and years have passed and the place is distant do they relate any story they please, or even it put down in writing, so that at least it becomes established fact. . . . Anyhow, it is a world that is full of lies, and we shall make no mistake if we make up our minds that what we hear is really not at all strange and unusual but merely exaggerated in the telling.

If you imagine that once you have accomplished your ambitions you will have time to turn to the Way, you will discover that your ambitions never come to an end.

It must have been a queer scene when they brought him face to face with the physician on entering his house. When he spoke, his voice was muffled, and resounded so that they could not hear what he said. The physician said that he had never seen such a case in the books, nor had he ever had any oral instruction on the point, so they were obliged to return to the temple. There his friends and relatives, with his old mother, gathered at his bedside and wept and grieved?not that they thought he could hear! At last someone said, "Suppose he does lose his ears and nose, so far as living goes there is no reason why he should not survive. Let us then pull the thing off by main force." So they thrust rice straw all round between his head and the metal, and pulled as if to drag off his head. His ears and nose were torn away, and he escaped with his bare life, suffering afterward many a long day.

The appearance of a house is in some sort an index to the character of its occupant.

Though the breeze blow not, the flower of the heart of man will change its hue. Now looking back on months and years of intimacy, to feel that your friend, while you still remember the moving words you exchanged, is yet growing distant and living in a world apart?all this is sadder far than partings brought by death.

As soon as we hear a person's name we form in our minds a picture of his appearance; but when we come to see him, he is never the man whose face we had imagined.

If you must take care that your opinions do not differ in the least from those of the person with whom you are talking, you might just as well be alone.

It wakes one up to go away from home for a time, no matter where. Exploring and rambling about the countryside you come upon a host of unusual sights in rustic spots and mountain hamlets. You get a messenger to take letters to the capital, and you write and say "Do not forget to send me so-and-so at the next opportunity.'' All this is in its way amusing. Of course you have a thousand things to think of in such a place.

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.

To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations - such is pleasure beyond compare.

A bystander... remarked, 'One day of life is weightier than ten thousand pieces of gold. It is not because they do not fear death, but because they forget the nearness of death that men do not rejoice in life. One may say that he has grasped the true principle who is unconcerned with the manifestation of life or death.' When he said this people scoffed at him more than ever.

Bishop K”yu said (it seems to me very admirably), 'It is only a person of poor understanding who wishes to arrange things in complete sets. It is incompleteness that is desirable.' In everything regularity is bad. To leave a thing unfinished gives interest, and makes for lengthened life. They say that even in building the [imperial] palace an unfinished place is always left. In the writings of the ancients, inner and outer [Buddhist and non-Buddhist], there are many missing chapters and parts.

In all things it is the beginning and end that are interesting. The love of men and women?is it only when they meet face to face? To feel sorrow at an unaccomplished meeting, to grieve over empty vows, to spend the long night sleepless and alone, to yearn for distant skies, in a neglected house to think fondly of the past?this is what love is.

Leave undone whatever you hesitate to do.

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.

To while away the idle hours, seated the livelong day before the inkslab, by jotting down without order or purpose whatever trifling thoughts pass through my mind, truely this is a queer and crazy thing to do!

A certain man who was learning archery faced the target with two arrows in his hand. But his instructor said, ' A beginner ought never to have a second arrow; for as long as he relies upon the other, he will be careless with his first one. At each shot he ought to think that he is bound to settle it with this particular shaft at any cost.' Doubtless he would not intentionally act foolishly before his instructor with one arrow, when he has but a couple. But, though he may not himself realize that he is being careless, his teacher knows 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!

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

Japanese Author, Court Official and Buddhist Monk