Not just hermits

Buddhist tzaddikim?

(Hotoke sennin kami sennin; “A thousand Buddhas, a thousand gods”)


The world may be full of bad people, but there are also many good people as well, including people good enough to be compared to bodhisattvas or benevolent deities.


This simple noun phrases comprises a doubled use of the number-noun 千人 (sennin), “one thousand people.” The first use follows the noun 仏 (hotoke), “Buddha,” or a kind and enlightened person with the Buddha-spirit; the second follows 神 (kami), “god.”


Compare and contrast with a similarly optimistic oni-focused saying from a while back.

My sources say that 千人 is used to suggest “a large number of people,” but it’s worth noting that there also seems to be a concept of 千仏 (senbutsu, “one thousand Buddhas,”) according to which there were / are / will be a thousand Buddhas over the course of the three past, present, and future kalpas of cosmic time. Let me stress that this isn’t a definite causal connection, but rather an interesting correspondence. Those interested in investigating further can check the source, a late 18th-century CE sharebon called the 太平楽巻物 (Taihei raku no makimono), by Morishima Churyo.

Some versions may include a comma between the two halves.

Example sentence:


(“Saikin no nyuusu wa oni no you na akunin-tachi no akuji bakkari de, ochikonjaisou. Kono yo wa hotoke sennin kami sennin mo iru no wo wasurenai you ni ganbaranakucha.”)

[“The recent news has been a parade of evil deeds by demonically evil people, and I feel like I’m going to fall into a depression. I have to make sure to not forget that there are also plenty of saints.”]

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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