Hurrah for editors, woo

Iwanami Bunko has released (at least) two editions of the 臨済録 ("Record of Rinzai"). Yes, I have both. Come on! It's Rinzai!

One was first published in 1935, and edited by Asahina Sougen (朝比奈宗源), himself a Zen priest. ("Sougen", also romanized "Sogen", is a title; according to my dictionary it means "the root of all things".) My copy is a 34th edition, printed in 1984.

The other was published in 1989, and edited by Iriya Yoshitaka (入矢義高). I do not know if he is also ordained or otherwise formally involved in Zen Buddhism, but what interests me is that the new edition silently replaces the old. Its catalogue number is identical (Blue 310-1, for those who are hip to the IB system), and you can no longer find any mention of Asahina's edition by searching at Iwanami Shoten's homepage, despite the fact that all of their other out-of-print books seem to be listed. It's rather curious and, dare I say, a little suspicious. (Or maybe it's S.O.P. and I'm just ignorant.)

So, anyway, I thought it might be interesting to look at the different ways the two editions handle one of Zen's most famous passages.

They present the original Chinese with almost identical punctuation:

ASAHINA: 道流、爾欲得如法見解、但莫受人惑。向裏向外、逢著便殺。逢佛殺佛、逢祖殺祖、逢羅漢殺羅漢、逢父母殺父母、逢親眷殺親眷、始得解脱。不與物拘、透脱自在。
IRIYA: 道流、爾欲得如法見解、但莫受人惑。向裏向外、逢著便殺。逢佛殺佛、逢祖殺祖、逢羅漢殺羅漢、逢父母殺父母、逢親眷殺親眷、始得解脱、不與物拘、透脱自在。

But their yomikudashi are a little different:

ASAHINA: 道流、爾如法の見解を得んと欲せば、但人惑を受くること莫れ。裏に向い外に向って、逢著せば便ち殺せ。仏に逢うては仏を殺し、祖に逢うては祖を殺し、羅漢に逢うては羅漢を殺し、父母に逢うては父母を殺し、親眷に逢うては親眷を殺して、始めて解脱を得ん。物と拘らず透脱自在なり。
IRIYA: 道流、爾如法に見解せんと欲得すれば、但だ人惑を受くること莫れ。裏に向い外に向って、逢著すれば便ち殺せ。仏に逢うては仏を殺し、祖に逢うては祖を殺し、羅漢に逢うては羅漢を殺し、父母に逢うては父母を殺し、親眷に逢うては親眷を殺して、始めて解脱を得、物と拘らず、透脱自在なり。

And their translations into "modern Japanese" are as different as you'd expect from two people working fifty years apart:

ASAHINA: お前たちよ、正しい見解を得ようと思うならば、何はともあれものについてまわってはいけない。内に向っても外に向っても、逢ったものを皆殺せ。仏に逢えば仏を殺し、祖師に逢えば祖師を殺し、羅漢に逢ったら羅漢を殺し、父母に逢ったら父母を殺し、親類縁者に逢ったら親類縁者を殺して、始めて解脱することができよう。そういければ、なにものにも束縛されず、全く自由自在である。
IRIYA: 諸君、まともな見地を得ようと思うならば、人に惑わされてはならぬ。内においても外においても、逢ったものはすぐ殺せ。仏に逢えば仏を殺し、祖師に逢えば祖師を殺し、羅漢に逢ったら羅漢を殺し、父母に逢ったら父母を殺し、親類に逢ったら親類を殺し、そうして始めて解脱することができ、なにものにも束縛されず、自在に突き抜けた生き方ができるのだ。

Asahina's omaetachi yo is a lot more casual than shokun, as far as forms of address for groups of people go. On the other hand, Iriya avoids the Zen jargon of 自由自在 ("[for one's] own reasons, [one's] own existence", maybe?) and goes with 自在に突き抜けた生き方 ("a way of living that has broken through to freedom") instead.

Here's my version, just for the hell of it:

Listen: if you want to gain the right perspective on things, you can't let anything distract you. Looking within or looking without, whatever you encounter, kill it immediately. If you run into Buddha, kill Buddha; if you run into the founder of our sect, kill the founder of our sect; if you run into an arhat, kill the arhat; if you run into your father or your mother, kill your father or mother; if you run into a different relative, kill that relative. Then you'll achieve freedom for the first time, and nothing will bind you.

(I am absolutely positive there are typos in this post somewhere. Typing Japanese one-handed while glancing at a tiny paperback is more difficult than I expected.)

Popularity factor: 11


Just curious--how do you read it? As an English speaker who reads Chinese pretty well but struggles with Japanese (I'm doing Classical Japanese now), I am convinced that an English speaker with good Japanese could learn Chinese very easily--more easily than reading it as Kanbun. Even if you don't know the yomikata.


Normally, I stare at the Chinese for a while, think I get it, and then read the "Chinese in Japanese" version and realize that I didn't quite. Books that also have a "modern (real) Japanese" version are a bonus.

I do get the feeling that learning to read Chinese at this point, with, say, 75% comprehension of "proper" grammatical sentences, wouldn't be all that difficult... but I haven't put that theory to the test yet.


By the way, does that mean you're learning Classical Japanese without going through Modern Japanese? That's intense.


I speak Japanese, but pretty poorly even after living in Japan for a couple years. For whatever reason, Chinese was always a snap for me and within about the same amount of time (in Taiwan) I was fluent. Maybe because I learned it first, maybe I was more motivated, I don't know. Classical Japanese class is in Japanese, and the instructor is kind enough to write the kanji when needed so I know what she's talking about. She also speaks English and Chinese very fluently, so that helps when I am really in a jam. Next semester, when we get to Kanbun, I will exact my revenge on my unwitting classmates.My theory, though, is that any Japanese person who reads a lot of Kanbun will start to skip the diacritical marks ("yomikaeri"?) and begin to read it as ersatz Chinese, and that that process would be even easier for an English-speaking foreigner. I mean, mash English and Japanese together and you have something like Chinese.


By the way, 自由自在 is a pretty common compound in Chinese, even in modern speech. Yahoo Taiwan's dictionary has it as:1.leisurely and carefree; free and unrestrained; footloose and fancy-free; (as) free as the air; (be) on the loose2.to take one's ease; to be at one's ease; to be at liberty


Yeah, it's a strange feeling sometimes when I drag some Chinese through the Kanbun filter into Japanese and my understanding, then realize that the original word order was basically the same as an equivalent English sentence.

The teachers I've known who were good at reading kanbun still read things smoothly in Japanese order, but it seemed like they could take in a whole sentence and convert it in their head without consciously making all the kaeriten-indicated order switches.

自由自在 isn't uncommon in modern Japanese, either.. it escaped from the jargon bucket. But since Iriya avoided using 自由 altogether, I'm pretty sure Asahina intended the original meaning, without the modern ideas that have become attached to 自由. ...Pretty sure.

By the way, your profile isn't public -- do you blog too?


For this reason, in the Edo period there were apparently people (Ogyu Sorai is one) who advocated skipping all the diacritical marking systems and weird yomikatas and just learn to read Chinese as Chinese. They promoted Ming and Qing dynasty novels as literature to be read to learn Chinese as a living language rather than the language of the dead Confucian males. Thus the reception these books got in Japan was (apparently) much different than in China. Seems to me like an alien civilization comes to Earth and deifies Stephen King. Anyway, that is what I am interested in checking out. You probably know more about that than I do. I'm primarily a Sinologist, but I'm pretty interested in Japan. Not to mention, Japan is a much nicer place to live or stay than China. Kyoto or Beijing? No contest. So I want to have that option open.I had a blog for about 15 minutes a few years ago--it lasted about three posts, and then a six-months-later "wow it's been a long time" post. My login was still saved in my Firefox browser so when I went to post comments it came up automatically. I have been thinking of getting it going again recently. If I do, I'll let you know. It's nice to throw ideas around with people more knowledgeable about Japan than I am.自由自在 is so common I didn't realize it started as jargon. One thing I love about classical Japanese (and now classical Japanese) is how something perfectly ordinary appears in a really old text. I get the same feeling when I find people from 100s of years ago with English names that sound like they could be my neighbors.


I hope you will start blogging again, if that means writing about classical Japanese, Chinese, and stuff like that. I still miss isfogailsi's take on such things, and she gave up her blog, what, two years ago now?


Huh, no, I'd never heard of that before, but it sounds like something Edo-period people would do. They were full of crazy ideas.

Even if you knew Edo-period Chinese, wouldn't you still have a hard time reading the really, really old texts? Or does that only apply to the extremely obtuse ones?

LH: I know, and I only discovered it just when it was winding down. Sometimes I manage to lure her (I think it's her) here with posts about Manyoushuu-period poetry, but it's just not the same.


My experience was the opposite of snake's: I struggled with Chinese in uni and then switched to Japanese my first year in grad school; I felt I made more progress in that first quarter of Japanese than I had in the preceding three years of Chinese. (Of course, it was a summer intensive course and we did a year of work in ten or so weeks. I also nabbed my first Japanese iki-jibiki (her phrase) around that time, if that has anything to do with it...ahem.)

We did a bit of kanbun in a Classical Japanese class at OSU, to familiarize us with the system of marks, but I've always found it easier to just try and read it as (Classical) Chinese. Not that I try to read it that often, mind you.


Snake here, changed my user name back to what I usually use elsewhere out of habit based in obscure reasons. Thanks for the encouragement, Languagehat. I started a new one up at http://amidaworld.blogspot.com/, yoroshiku. Forgive the rudimentary layout, etc., for now. I will post about classical Japanese next.

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