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Posts Tagged ‘A Cup Of Sake Beneath The Cherry Trees’

I have wanted to read Yoshida Kenko’s little gem, ‘A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees‘, for a long time. It contains selections from Kenko’s longer book ‘Essays in Idleness‘.

Yoshida Kenko was a Japanese Zen monk who lived between the late 1200s and the middle 1300s. In this book, in pieces ranging in length from a few lines to a few pages, Kenko shares his thoughts on anything and everything – about life, nature, the changing seasons, love, beauty, the pleasures of reading, the pleasures of drinking sake, the pleasures of idleness, the beauty of imperfection, following the Buddhist path and many other topics in between. Many of the pieces are like beautiful essays. Some of them are prescriptive, but still beautiful. The book featured these legendary lines, of course :

“It is a most wonderful comfort to sit alone beneath a lamp, book spread before you, and commune with someone from the past whom you have never met.”

Which was exactly what I was doing while reading Kenko’s book.

There were also insightful passages like this :

“If our life did not fade and vanish like the dews of Adashino’s graves or the drifting smoke from Toribe’s burning grounds, but lingered on for ever, how little the world would move us. It is the ephemeral nature of things that makes them wonderful.
Among all living creatures, it is man that lives longest. The brief dayfly dies before evening; summer’s cicada knows neither spring nor autumn. What a glorious luxury it is to taste life to the full for even a single year. If you constantly regret life’s passing, even a thousand long years will seem but the dream of a night.”

There were also beautiful stories which offered words of wisdom.

I had so many favourite lines and passages in the book, in nearly every page. I am so glad I read Kenko’s book. It is a beautiful, little gem. I want to read the longer version ‘Essays in Idleness‘ now.

Have you read Kenko’s book? What do you think about it?

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