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Alms and Vagabonds: Buddhist temples and popular patronage by Janet R. Goodwin

By Janet R. Goodwin

Ebook by means of Goodwin, Janet R.

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Extra resources for Alms and Vagabonds: Buddhist temples and popular patronage in medieval Japan

Sample text

Here lies the mysterious significance of an early death, which the Greeks envied as a sign of the love of the gods. I, however, had already lost the morning face that belongs to youth alone—the face that, however deep it has sunk in the stagnant depths of fatigue the previous 62 night, rises fresh and alive to breathe at the surface in the morning. In most people, alas, the unsophisticated habit of exposing the face, quite unconsciously, to the dazzling light of the morning persists to the end.

Nothing gives the armed forces so much attraction as the fact that even the most trivial duty is ultimately an emanation of something far loftier and more glorious, and is linked, somewhere, with the idea of death. The man of letters, on the other hand, must scratch together his own glory from the rubbish within himself, already 64 overfamiliar in every detail, and refurbish it for the public eye. Two different voices constantly call to us. One comes from within, the other from without. The one from with­out is one’s daily duty.

By the destruction of these ultimate dreams I mean the perception of two hidden truths: that the flower of false­hood dreamed of by the man of action is no more than an artificial flower; and, on the other hand, that the death bolstered up by falsehood of which art dreams in no way confers any special favors. In short, the dual ap­ proach cuts one off from all salvation by dreams: the two secrets that should never by rights have been brought face to face see through each other. Within one body, and without flinching, the collapse of the ultimate principles of life and of death must be accepted.

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