What goes up, must come down.

A continuation.

盛者必衰
jou.sha.hi-.ssui

Literally: prosper – person – inevitable – decline

Alternately: All those who prosper will see their fortunes wane. Even those who attain worldly success and glory will eventually fall or fade away, due to the mutable and impermanent nature of the world. Again, sic transit gloria mundi, although the nuance is different from last week’s phrase.

Notes: The first two characters (盛者) may be pronounced joushashousha, or shouja without any change in meaning. This probably stems from older Japanese lacking the marks used by modern Japanese to show whether a consonant has been voiced or not.

This week’s offering is from the second line of the Tale of Heike’s famous opening:

沙羅雙樹の花の色、盛者必衰の理を顯す
(Sara souju no hana no iro, joushahissui no kotowari wo arawasu)
(“The color of the flowers of the shala tree express the truth that all who rise must fall.”)

It must be said, however, that the Heike Monogatari is quoting the Humane King Sutra, an important Buddhist text in East Asia.

And here’s a song that explicitly rejects the teaching, while punning on 理 (kotowari, “truth,” “justice”) and 断り (kotowari, “rejection”). Perhaps we should check in on their fortunes periodically.

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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