A Japanese Thoreau of the Twelfth Century (17)


  • Chapter 1
  • Chapter 2
  • Chapter 3
  • Chapter 4
  • Chapter 5
  • Chapter 6
  • Chapter 7
  • Chapter 9
  • Chapter 10
  • Chapter 11
  • Chapter 12
  • Chapter 13
  • Chapter 14
  • Chapter 15
  • Chapter 16
  • Chapter 17

  • CHAPTER 17


    Now the three realms of existence—past., present, and future—depend on the soul only. If the soul is ill at ease, of what profit are cattle and horses and the seven treasures ? Palaces and mansions and stately towers give no pleasure. On the other hand, in this solitary cabin I know the fullest joy. When I chance to go to City-Royal I may feel some shame on account of my beggarly appearance, yet when I come back to my hut I feel nothing but pity for the men who squirm amid the dusts of the common world. If anyone doubt me, I beg him to consider how birds and fishes do pass their lives. Do fish ever tire of the simple water they dwell in ? As we are not fish we cannot say. Do not the birds always long for their woods and copses ? Again, as we are not birds we cannot tell. So it is with
    those who choose the life of a recluse—only those who do choose it can know its joys.

    To resume. My life is now like the declining moon approaching the edge of the hill which is to hide it. Ere long I must face the three realms of darkness. What deeds in the past shall I have to plead for there ? What the Buddha has taught to men is this-—Thou shalt not cleave to any of the things of this world. So 'tis a sin even to grow fond of this straw-thatched cabin, and to find happiness in this life of peace is a hindrance to salvation. Why, then, should I let the days be filled with the vanity of exultation in an empty joy ?

    In the peace of daybreak I once meditated upon this doctrine, and this is the question I asked myself—" You have fled from the world to live the life of a recluse amid the wild woods and hills, thus to bring peace to your soul and walk in the way of the Buddha. You have the appearance of a saint, but your soul is full of turbidities. Your cabin is a slur on the memory of the habitation of Jomyo Koji; in virtue you are below even Shuri Handoku. Is your degradation the result of your poverty and mean condition, your inheritance from a previous existence, or have your trains of thought destroyed your mind ? " What answer could my soul give ? None. I could but move my tongue as it were mechanically, and twice or thrice repeat involuntarily the Buddha's holy name. I could do no more.

    Written on the last day of the yayoi month of 2 Kenryaku [May lst, 1185] by the Somon Ren-in in his cabin on Toyama.

    Alas ! the moonlight
    Behind the hill is hidden
    In gloom and darkness.
    Oh, would her radiance ever
    My longing eyes rejoiced !







    「A Japanese Thoreau of the Twelfth Century」は『南方熊楠全集 第10巻 』に所収。

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