Yoshida Kenko, the author of Essays in Idleness, incorporated his Japanese culture and Buddhist beliefs in his work. He emphasized and accepted the perishability and uncertainty of life. However, Kenko’s views differ from the usual Western outlook and my own perspective.
Kenko understood the uncertainty of human life and appreciated it. He believed that if humans could live forever, they would not feel the emotions they feel when they look at beauty in nature. Because he knew that there is ambiguity in life, Kenko appreciated minor things that most people would disregard. In reflection twenty-one, he described how he found joy in looking at a stream. Kenko was aware of the unpredictability of life, and this is evident in reflection twenty-nine. He explained how hard it was for him to suppress his nostalgia for things in his past. Describing how he felt when he went through belongings from the past made it seem manifest that he had knowledge about the instability of life.
I agree with Kenko’s ideas of perishability. If humans had an immortal life, they would not appreciate the world around them as much as they do today. I appreciate the concept of the perishability of life. It makes desire and emotions stronger because people know that they will not be able to enjoy things forever. On the other hand, I disagree entirely with his beliefs on the concept of uncertainty of life. Kenko believed that the most precious thing in life is its uncertainty. My perspective is that it is one of the worst things about life because I never know what is going to happen. This causes a sense of vulnerability because of the lack of knowledge about the future. Instead of the idea of life’s uncertainty fuelling my need to make the best of it, it makes me feel fearful and anxious about the situations to come.
The Western interpretation of this philosophy of life is spending the little time they have to enjoy the finest life possible. The idea that life doesn’t last forever motivates westerners to make the best of it. Most people want to strive for a luxurious lifestyle to fulfill their existence, which differs from Kenko’s view of simplicity. However, some people use the uncertainty of life as an excuse for making foolish choices. They justify this behavior with the knowledge that life doesn’t last forever. Yoshida Kenko’s work, Essays in Idleness, embodies his thoughts of the perishability and uncertainty of life. However, my views disagree with his in some ways. Westerners comprehend his beliefs differently as well, and some people put a negative aspect to his perspective.