英語で紹介する日本文化Ⅱ                      20091030

Lesson 5: Selection from Essays in Idleness 2

(Citation from Donald Keene “Selection from Essays in Idleness” Kodansha International, 1999)


73  嘘も真実になれば疎かにできない


Is it because the truth is so boring that most stories one hears are false.


People tend to exaggerate(誇張する) even when relating things they have actually witnessed, but when months or years have intervened, and the place is remote, they are all the more prone(~しがちで) to invent(でっちあげる) whatever tales suit their fancies(空想), and, when these have been written down, fictions are accepted as fact. This holds true of skill in the various arts; ignorant(無知な) men who know nothing about these arts praise the masters indiscriminately(見境なく), as if they were gods, but the expert gives no credence(信用) to such tales. Things known by report always prove quite deferent when one has actually seen them.

When a man spews(吐き) forth(出す) whatever nonsense comes to his mind, not caring(気にする) that he may be exposed(困った状況) on() the(さら) spot(される), people soon realize that he is lying. Again, if a man, though himself doubting the truth of a story, tells it exactly as it was related to him, with a self-satisfied twitching(ぴくぴく動かす) of the nose, the lie is not his. But it is frightening(驚かせる) when a man tells a lie convincingly(なるほどと思わせるように), deliberately blurring(曖昧にする) the details in places and pretending(~のふりをする) not to remember exactly what happened, but carefully leaving no loose(適当な) ends(結末).

Nobody protests very energetically at a lie which redounds(高める) to his own prestige.  

If, when everyone else is listening with pleasure to some lie, you decide that it would be pointless(無意味な) to be the only one to protest, “That wasn’t what happened,” and listen in silence, you may even be cited as a witness, and the story will seem all the more authentic(本物の).  

There's no escaping itthe world is full of lies. It is safest always to accept what one hears as if it were utterly commonplace(ありふれた) and devoid(~がなくて) of interest.

Stories told by the lower classes are full of startling(驚くべき) incidents. The well(育ち)-()bred(良い) man does not tell stories about prodigies(不思議なもの).  

I do not mean to suggest, however, that one should not believe wholeheartedly in the miracles of the gods and buddhas, or in the lives() of() the() incarnations(). It is foolish to accept popular superstitions(迷信) uncritically, but to dismiss(簡単に片付ける) them as being “most improbable(ありそうにもない)” serves no purpose. In general, the best course is to treat such matters as if they were true, neither giving one's unqualified(不適切な) belief nor doubting or mocking(嘲る) them.


82  不完全の良さ


Somebody once remarked that thin silk was not satisfactory as a scroll(巻物) wrapping(表紙) because it was so easily torn. Tona(頓阿) replied, “It is only after the silk wrapper has frayed(ぼろぼろになる) at top and bottom, and the mother()-of-pearl() has fallen from the roller(巻物の軸) that a scroll looks beautiful.” This opinion demonstrated the excellent taste of the man. People often that a set of books looks ugly if all volumes are not in the same format, but I was impressed to hear the Abbot(弘融) K?y?(僧都) say, “It is typical of the unintelligent(無教養な) man to insist on assembling(集める) complete sets of everything. Imperfect sets are better.


In everything, no matter what it may be, uniformity(統一性) is undesirable. Leaving something incomplete makes it interesting, and gives one the feeling that there is room(余地) for growth. Someone once told me, “Even when building the imperial palace, they always leave one place unfinished. In both Buddhist and Confucian(孔子の) writings of the philosophers of former times, there are also many missing chapters.


92  懈怠の心への自省


A certain man who was learning to shoot a bow aimed at the target with two arrows in his hand. His teacher said “A beginner should not hold two arrows. It will make him rely on the second arrow and be careless with the first. Each time you shoot you should think not of hitting or missing the target but of making this one the decisive arrow.” I wonder if anyone with only two arrows would be careless with one of them in the presence(~の面前で) of teacher. But though the pupil is himself unaware of any carelessness, the teacher will notice it. This caution applies to all things.


A man studying some branch of learning thinks at night that he has the next day before him, and in the morning that he will have time that night; he plans in this way always to study more diligently at some future time. How much harder it is to perceive(認める) the laziness of mind that arises in an instant(すぐに)! Why should it be so difficult to do something now, in the present moment?


150  芸事を極める秘訣


A man who is trying to learn some art is apt to say, “I won’t rush(慌てて~する) things and tell people I am practicing while I am still a beginner. I’ll study by myself, and only when I have mastered the art will I perform before people. How impressed they’ll be then(そういうわけで)!”

People who speak in this fashion will never learn any art. The man who, even while still a novice(初心者), mixes with the experts, not ashamed of their harsh comments or ridicule(嘲笑), and who devotedly(熱心に) persists(やり通す) at his practice, unruffled(騒ぎ立てない) by criticism, will neither become stultified(台無しにする) in his art nor careless with it. Though he may lack natural gifts, he will with the passage of the years to outstrip(追い越す) the man who coasts(~のおかげで楽に) on(進む) his endowments(資質), and in the end will attain the highest degree of skill, acquire authority(威厳) in his art and the recognition of the public, and win  an unequaled reputation.  

The performers who now rank as the most skilled in the whole country were at the beginning considered incompetent(無能な), and, indeed, had shocking faults. However, by faithfully maintaining the principles of their art and holding them in(敬意) honor(を持って), rather than indulging in their own fancies(思い付き), they have become paragons(模範) of the age and teachers for all. This surely holds true for every art.


189  予定は未定


You may intend to do something today only for pressing(急を要する) business to come up unexpectedly and take up all of your attention the rest of the day. Or a person you have been expecting is prevented from coming, or someone hadn’t expected comes calling. The thing you have counted on goes(うまく) amiss(いかない), and the thing you had no hopes for is the only one to succeed. A matter which promised I to be a nuisance(厄介な) passes off smoothly, and a matter which should have been easy proves a great hardship. Our daily experiences bear no resemblance(似ている) to what we had anticipated. This is true throughout the year and equally true for entire lives.

But if we decide that everything is bound to go contrary to our anticipations, we discover that naturally there are also some things which do not contradict(全く違う) expectations. This makes it all the harder to be definite(何事も) about(定める) anything(ことは). The one thing you can be certain of the truth that all is uncertainty(不確実な).


190  夫婦仲を長続きさせる秘訣


A man should never marry. I am charmed when I hear a man say, “I am still living alone.” When I hear someone say, “He has married into() so() and(婿) sos() family(なる)”, or “He has taken such and such a wife and they are living together,” I feel nothing but contempt(軽蔑) for the man. He will be ridiculed(嘲笑する) by others too, who will say, “No doubt he thought that commonplace(ありふれた) woman was quite(誰もが) a catch(羨む), and that’s why he took(~を) her(引き) off(取る) with him.” Or, if the woman happens to be beautiful, they are sure to feel, “He dotes(溺愛する) on her so much that he worships her as his private Buddha. Yes, that's no doubt the case.”

The woman who cleverly manages a household is the least agreeable(快い) to her husband. It is exasperating(怒らせる) to see the pains and affection she lavishes(惜しみなく与える) on her children when they are born; and after her husband has died she will become a nun() and look so decrepit(老いぼれて) that it will positively(まったく) shocking.


Living day in and day out with a woman, no matter what she may be like, is bound to be frustrating and the source of irritation. The woman too is likely to feel insecure(不安). The relationship, however, can last unbroken for many years if the couple lives apart, and the man only occasionally visits or stays with the woman. If the man occasionally visits the woman and remains with her just temporarily(一時的に), a freshness will cling to their romance.     


243  言葉に詰まった父


When I turned eight years old I asked my father, “What sort of thing is a Buddha?” My father said, “A Buddha is what a man becomes.” I asked then, “How does a man become a Buddha?” My father replied, “By following the teachings of Buddha.” “Then, who taught the Buddha to teach?” He again replied, “He followed the teachings of Buddha before him.”

I asked again, “What kind of Buddha, was the first Buddha who began to teach?” At this my father laughed and answered, “I suppose he fell from the sky or else he sprang up out of the earth.”

My father told other people, “He drove me into a corner, and I was stuck for an answer.” But he was amused.