32. [White Ashes, 5-16]

When I deeply contemplate the transient nature of human existence, I realize that, from beginning to end, life is impermanent like an illusion. We have not yet heard of anyone who lived ten thousand years. How fleeting is a lifetime!

Who in this world today can maintain a human form for even a hundred years? There is no knowing whether I will die first or others, whether death will occur today or tomorrow. We depart one after another more quickly than the dewdrops on the roots or the tips of the blades of grasses. So it is said. Hence, we may have radiant faces in the morning, but by evening we may turn into white ashes.

Once the winds of impermanence have blown, our eyes are instantly closed and our breadth stops forever. Then, our radiant face changes its color, and the attractive countenance like peach and plum blossoms is lost. Family and relatives will gather and grieve, but all to no avail.


Rennyo (1415-1499) was the 8th abbot of the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism and is often referred to as the restorer of the sect (or, the second founder), and for this is also referred to as Rennyo Shonin ("eminent monk"). Rennyo is responsible for a revitalization period in Jodo Shinshu history where in which the religion was popularized for the masses.