2014.10.27 Yoshida Kenko

From creating lavish artwork on exquisitely crafted lattes to mastering the art of gender-bending cosplay, perfecting any skill takes a lot of hard work and time. But a Japanese monk who lived about 700 years ago recently reminded the Internet that another key part of success are the failures and embarrassments along the way.

A Twitter user recently found the ancient writings of this monk and his words seemed to resonate with Japanese netizens who found that words very applicable to their modern lives.

Yoshida Kenko, better known as Kenko Hoshi, was a Buddhist monk and author who wrote his most famous work Tsutsuzugusa, or Essays in Idleness, in the 14th century. And in that collection of 243 essays is one very interesting piece that seems to be aimed at anyone struggling to excel at something. Twitter user tarareba72 posted the essay last week, saying, “To anyone who is starting to paint or starting to write, I’d like to share these words from Kenko Hoshi written 700 years ago.”

Yoshida’s 700-year-old essay starts out addressing people who are working to master a skill and are practicing it in quiet to avoid embarrassing themselves in front of others. He goes on to tell readers that no one can truly become an expert without exposing themselves to criticism and mocking from others. When you are learning a skill, he says that being around experts and having them critique or even ridicule your work is unavoidable if you truly want to perfect that skill.

The author concludes the essay by saying that no person has ever become an expert without being called an idiot, being spat on and humiliated. Only through these difficult experiences did they become pros in their field. Yoshida finishes by saying “it’s the same the world round.”

The original tweet has been retweeted almost 30,000 times with netizens saying the essay inspired them to work harder and not be as afraid to make mistakes around others. Many were surprised how relevant this monk’s words were even after 700 years and others wished they paid more attention in high school Japanese language arts class where the text is typically taught. Makes you wonder what other pieces of very relevant advice were hiding in those old books and essays you struggled through in class!

Feature Image: Wikipedia
Source: Tsutsuregusa, Wikipedia