EssayEtymologyIdiomJapanese traditionKanjiUncorrected

Tariki Hongan (他力本願 – Relying on Someone)

  • Tariki Hongan


    Relying on someone or leaving your work to someone is sometimes called tariki hongan (他力本願) in Japanese.

    Ta (他) means “other,” riki (力) means “power,” hon (本) means “true,” and gan (願) means “wish,” so you may think that this four-character idiom expresses its literal meaning.
    「他」は “other”、「力」は “power”、「本」は “true”、「願」は “wish” を意味するので、この四字熟語は文字どおりの意味を表しているように聞こえるかもしれません。

    However, both tariki (他力) and hongan (本願) are Buddhist terms — tariki means “the power of Amitabha Buddha” and hongan means “a wish to have people become Buddha.”

    That is to say, originally tariki hongan means “to become a Buddha relying on the power of Amitabha Buddha.”

    It is thought that the meaning of “relying on someone” was made from the meaning of each kanji, then it became popular.

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