Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Since I recently gushed about the awesome Japanese historical drama, The Thirteen Lords of Kamakura, I wanted to share a quote from the real life epic, the Tales of the Heike, namely the opening line:

祇園精舎の鐘の聲、諸行無常の響き有り。 沙羅雙樹の花の色、盛者必衰の理を顯す。 驕れる者も久しからず、唯春の夜の夢の如し。 猛き者も遂には滅びぬ、偏に風の前の塵に同じ。

Gionshōja no kane no koe, Shogyōmujō no hibiki ari. Sarasōju no hana no iro, Jōshahissui no kotowari wo arawasu. Ogoreru mono mo hisashikarazu, tada haru no yo no yume no gotoshi. Takeki mono mo tsui ni wa horobin(u), hitoeni kaze no mae no chiri ni onaji.

The bells of the Gion monastery [Jetavana Grove] in India echo with the warning that all things are impermanent. The blossom of the sala trees teach us through their hues that what flourishes must fade. The proud do not prevail for long but vanish like a spring night’s dream. In time the mighty, too, succumb: all are dust before the wind.

Translation by Burton Watson in “The Tales of the Heike (Translations from the Asian Classics)

Like one wave coming after another, it never really ends, and each wave that arrives is soon gone.

The phrase 諸行無常 (shogyō mujō) in particular is an example of a Buddhist yojijukugo phrase that is used even now in Japanese language. It essentially means the impermanence of all phenomena. I sometimes use this phrase half-jokingly with my kids or my wife when I drop dishes on the floor, throw away an old shirt, or whatever, but I do sincerely believe that all things are like waves in the ocean, arising briefly, or scattering blossoms in the wind.

P.S. Featured photo was something I took in early January of 2021 during a low point. There was much to be stressed out about at the time, but much of it has passed since.

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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