Episode from Essays in Idleness

Mahalo to our Dharma brothers and sisters who joined in the Zoom Nenbutsu yesterday. Wow, it was unbelievable that one hour passed so quickly!


Then I watched the video of this Zoom Nenbutsu by Rev. Tsuchiya. Oh my goodness….I now can see I was falling asleep from time to time. No wonder time passed incredibly fast! But as I looked myself, somehow I was continuing to chant Namu Amida Butsu.


This reminded me a famous episode of the Essay called “Tsurezuregusa.”

Tsurezure-gusa or “Essays in Idleness” is one of the best known medieval collections of essays written by a Buddhist monk, Yoshida Kenko (1283-1352).


Tsurezure means “to have nothing to do” or “to be bored.” Kenko Hoshi was a modest priest and his writings were not paid attention while he was living. At least 100 years after he passed away, his essays became popular. Because various historical figures and incidents were mentioned in his essays, this is very valuable document to know the history.


Among 243 passages, the author wrote about an interesting episode of our Maser Honen Shonin in the 39th passage. This is based on the question and answer between Master Honen and one of his students and we can tell the author’s deep respect toward Honen Shonin.


"One day, somebody asked Honen Shonin, “While reciting Namu Amida Butsu, I sometimes doze off. This may be very lazy. What will you suggest, Master.” Honen Shonin simply answered, “Just recite Nenbusu when you wake up. That’s it.” What a precious teaching!

Honen Shonin also said “It is for sure you can be born in the Pure Land if you surely think it's possible. It is not sure about the birth in the Pure Land if you are not sure about it.” This is also very valuable.


Then Honen Shonin continued, ”Yet you can attain Ojo by reciting Namu Amida Butsu even if you may have doubt.” Again, this is also very precious!" (from Tsurezuregusa, the 39 Dan or passage)


What a great episode and essay! I love this essay not because I dozed off while chanting Nenbutsu yesterday but because the author's respect toward our Master Honen Shonin from this passage. The author Kenko Hoshi must have regarded Honen Shonin as a master of masters!


I'm very proud to be a Honen Shonin's follower. The next Zoom Nenbutsu will be hosted by Jodo Shu South America (Brazil) on March 6 at 1100 am (HST). Namu Amida Butsu.