Essays in Idleness by KenkoMarch 11, 2012 at 3:45 PM | Posted in Books | Leave a comment
Tags: Donald Keene, Kenko, Relaxer's Club
This book is one of the most read of all Japanese texts and it is by no means all jokes. I think that Japanese idleness in those days was a little different from ours. In my translation by Donald Keene, there are 243 essays in 202 pages, perfect for our short attention-span-era.
In essay 108 he begins harmlessly enough: “Nobody begrudges wasting a little time. Does this represent a reasoned judgement or merely foolishness, I wonder.” But a few paragraphs later he drops the hammer:
A man who fails even for a short time to keep in mind the preciousness of time is no different from a corpse. If you wish to know why each instant must be guarded so jealously, it is so that a man inwardly will have no confusing thoughts and outwardly no concern with worldly matters; but if he wishes to rest at that point, he may rest, but if he wishes to follow the Way, he may follow it.
I recommend this book to you.