What Ryoukan Wanted to Say


While I was driving in my business car, I heard a radio personality talking about Ryoukan(良寛), a famous Japanese Buddhist monk (1758-1831). It was very interesting. When a big earthquake hit Niigata(新潟) where he lived, a man, worrying about him, sent him a letter. In reply, Ryoukan said “When meet with a calamity, it’s best to meet with it. When die, it’s best to die. This attitude is the mystic way to avoid calamities.”


  • earthquake 地震
  • reply 返事
  • meet with A Aに遭う
  • calamity 災難
  • die 死ぬ
  • attitude 考え方
  • mystic   神秘的な
  • avoid 避ける

The interpretation of his saying will be that the best way to get over calamities or death is not to try to run away from or avoid those things. If I read it spiritually, it can be interpreted as meaning that the more we try to run away from or avoid unpleasant things, the more calamities we will meet with.

  • interpretation 解釈
  • get over A Aを乗り越える
  • run away from A Aから逃げる
  • interpret A as B AをBと解釈する
  • unpleasant thing 嫌なこと

Recently, a lot of readers of this blog have asked me which to choose or what to do. Seeing such people spiritually, I find that they are the kind of people who will end up complaining either way and always worry about things. Their spiritual consciousness, or the level of their souls, is still so low that they need much more stimulations to learn. A truth of this world is that various troubles happen to us as long as we live so that we can improve ourselves. This World of Reality is where people are to go through hardships.

  • recently 最近は
  • choose 選ぶ
  • what to do どうすればよいのか
  • end up ~ing 結局は〜する
  • complain 不平を言う
  • either way どちらにしても
  • consciousness 意識
  • stimulation 刺激
  • various 様々な
  • as long as S+V SがVする限り
  • so that S+V SがVするように
  • improve 良くする
  • go through A Aを経験する
  • hardships 苦労

As our conscience(=Inner God) becomes bigger, our physical body is spiritualized. Spiritualization means that the ratio between a person’s physical body and spiritual one changes and the latter gets larger than the former. When the ratio changes to the one of 6:4, the person comes to see many things normally invisible and his consciousness begins to move by itself. At this stage, there is always possibility that the person is attracted by a devil and falls into Devildom, and that is not an important phenomenon.

  • conscience 良心
  • spiritualize 霊化させる
  • ratio 割合
  • come to~ 〜するようになる
  • possibility 可能性
  • attract 引きつける
  • devil 魔物
  • Devildom 魔界
  • phenomenon 現象

As you make progress in the spiritualization, you will feel more secure. You will cease to cling to trifle things and come to feel gratitude for everything. As for a normal person, his physical body has ascendancy over his spiritual one. In such situation, desires of a physical body are put before those of a spiritual body in this World of Reality. And such people are likely to feel dissatisfaction about many things and suffer from them. While you’re alive, it is important to look at the present situations rightly and try not to escape from unpleasant things. This kind of attitude, conversely, can change a big trouble into a small one.

  • make progress 進歩する
  • feel secure 安心する
  • cease to~ 〜するのをやめる
  • cling 固執する
  • trifle 些細な
  • gratitude 感謝の気持ち
  • ascendancy 支配権
  • be likely to~ 〜しそうである
  • dissatisfaction 不満
  • the present situations 現状

There is no doubt that Ryoukan was a spiritually enlightened person. He died sitting. He left this World of Reality keeping his consciousness, which is a characteristic of an enlightened person. He left great many Waka poetry. And they all have deep tasteful feeling. His last words was “I don’t want to die.”  He is a great man all the same. The words give us courage. Even Ryoukan said ” I don’t want to die” just before he died.

  • There is no doubt that… …ということは間違いない
  • spiritually enlightened person 覚者
  • characteristic 特徴
  • tasteful  味わい深い
  • all the same やはり
  • courage 勇気

This is affectionate words for us living people. He wanted to say that even when we’re suffering or troubled, if we exert our best effort, this world is so great that we don’t want to leave. He said to us “This world is worth living however much we suffer or whatever uncomfortable things happen to us.” No matter what your present situations are, there is always something to be thankful for. If you notice it one by one, your present situations will improve gradually.

  • affectionate 愛情のこもった
  • exert effort 努力する
  • be worth ~ing  〜するに値する
  • thankful 感謝した
  • notice 気がつく
  • gradually 徐々に

I Ka Shi Te I Ta Da I Te  A Ri Ga To U Go Za I Ma SU

生かして頂いて ありがとう御座位ます

Thank you so much for keeping us alive.


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