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 Tsurezuregusa

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tufsoft



Posts : 64
Join date : 2011-06-03

PostSubject: Tsurezuregusa   Sat Mar 11, 2017 9:11 pm

I just discovered the Tsurezuregusa, and surprised not to have come across it before. It's a book of jottings by a 14th Century Buddhist priest, random thoughts and recollections.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsurezuregusa
There's a link to a scan of an English translation under the title "The Miscellany of a Japanese Priest" here
http://djm.cc/library/The_Miscellany_of_a_Japanese_Priest_Gusa_Porter.pdf

A rather messy text version of the same translation here
https://archive.org/details/miscellanyofjapa00yosh

Also, the Wikipedia page has a link to a Japanese version which contains both the original medieval Japanese and a modern translation.

Some excerpts (bear in mind this is a very old translation)

THREE MAXIMS BY THE REV. HONEN (1)
A certain man once said to the Rev. Honen, "As I am often attacked while at prayer by sleepiness, I find that I am remiss in my religious devotions ; what should I do to put a stop to this hindrance ? " And he was answered by the very excellent advice, " Fail not to pray as long as your eyes are awake."

REFINEMENT EVEN IN THE COUNTRY
It was the end of spring ; the sky was calm and lovely, and at a charming house hidden far back in a grove of old trees it would have been hard indeed for me to pass by without noticing the withered blossoms scattered over the garden. As I entered, I noticed that on the south side the lattice shutters were all let down, so that the place looked deserted ; but on the east the door was half open, and I saw through a tear in the bamboo blind a man of well-bred appearance, perfectly self-possessed, though only some twenty years of age, refined and composed, with a book spread open on the table before him.

Now, who could this be ? How I wished I could find out !

Streaming in through an exquisite bamboo door the moonlight shone upon a very young man ; and though it did not show him clearly, yet from his handsome hunting jacket and dark-coloured trousers he was evidently no ordinary person. With a little child as his sole companion he then wandered away along the narrow paths of far away fields, getting soaked in the dew upon the rice leaves, and amused himself by playing a flute too beautifully for words, little thinking that there was anybody within hearing to appreciate it. Wondering where he was going, I followed him, and he stopped playing as he entered a temple gate at the foot of the hills. A carriage was to be seen standing in the rack, and this touch of gentility caught my eye more than it would have done had it been in. the Capital. A servant whom I asked said, ' This is the occasion when some member of the Imperial Family is to attend a Buddhist service.'

Priests were passing to and fro in the holy temple, and the odour of incense wafted by the chilly evening breeze pierced me through and through. The faint breath of perfume caused by a lady-in-waiting as she passed along the verandah of the temple from the Imperial Apartments and the modest way in which she walked showed a refinement one would hardly have expected in a mountain village shut off from the eye of man.

It was autumn, and the moor was growing wild, covered with unusually heavy dew ; while the droning of insects and the gurgling of the garden stream sounded peaceful. It was hard to say definitely whether the moon was clear or cloudy, for the clouds seemed to be driven across the sky far more quickly than in the Capital.

ON TRUE LOVE
It is indeed a true lover's heart which forces a way through the many guards on the dark mountain (Mount Kurabu), or manages to escape the watchful eyes of ' the fishermen upon the lonely shore ' (Shinobu Beach ) ; and many are the soul-stirring adventures then encountered which can never more be forgotten. But on the other hand how lacking in romance it is when a man fondly takes to himself a wife only by the permission of his parents and brothers !

Again, when a woman who is left alone in the world says that she is "borne upon the streamlet's flow" and forthwith marries for money, perhaps an ugly old priest or an uncouth rustic, though the matchmaker may protest that they are as well assorted a pair as you may find, how wretched it must be to take one "whom she knows not andwho knows not her !" What sweet converse can they possibly have together ? Could they but talk of the cruel months and years (of the past) and of the mountains (of difficulties) they had struggled across all alone, their sweet converse would know no end. But when everything is arranged for them by a stranger, all such things, alas ! are apt to be overlooked.

If it chance that the woman is of great beauty and the man well advanced in years, ugly and of low rank, he will think, "Should such a darling girl have thrown herself away (for money) on a miserable man like me ?" He will esteem her less highly therefore, and whenever he meets her he will feel how his ideal has fallen. A very wretched state of things.

He who is not loved for his own sake when standing in the cloudy moonlight while the night air is sweet with the perfume of the plums, or when brushing through the dewdrops at break of day upon Mikaki Moor had far better have nothing to do with love at all.
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