Preface to the Second Paperback Edition
Foreword, by William Theodore de Bary
Essays in Idleness
At the age of 41 Kenko Yoshida gave up his life as an officer in the Imperial Palace Guards and became ordained as a Zen Buddhist monk. The reason for this dramatic decision remains unclear. Some speculate that it was grief over the death of Emperor Go-Uda. Others claim it was an unhappy love affair with the daughter of a government official. Whatever the reasons surrounding Yoshida’s departure from a worldly life one thing, I feel, is for certain, Yoshida felt a deep need to thread a spiritual path – a path of realization that might give him insight and understanding into the very nature of reality.
As a Buddhist monk Yoshida led a solitary, contemplative existence in rural Japan spending his days in thoughtful reflection, meditation and writing. Eventually the culmination of his inspiring thoughts found expression in the work entitled Tsurezuregusa ( Essays in Idleness ). Originally written on scraps of paper that were pasted onto the walls of his hermitage, they were published in book form posthumously. Over the centuries his writing has emerged as work of noted literary merit – a high water mark in Japanese medieval literature.
Essays in IdlenessKenko, Yoshida
An excerpt of a review from "The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, " Volume 76: A NEW book of Miss Repplier's is a little holiday for readers who agree with her, who like her humour and her quietly defiant loyalty to what is good, honourable, and obsolete. To other students Essays in Idleness must be provoking. It is ...