This is a question how to read long complicated sentences, and by default how we should translate them because you can't really be sure you have understood something if you can't say it in your mother tongue.

It took me a while to work out what the writer was saying in the sentence below. I may still be wrong but it consists of a very long sentence ending in a question (in bold). I turned this in to one short question followed by an explanation of that short question.

Is this the right way to do it?

Background: This is an essay on Ralph Emerson, an American philosopher who said that people spend too much focussing on the future. They should live for moment. He drew a comparison to a rose which is no less for not being in full bloom all its life.


Just like the rose, is not living for the moment the time you become aware of the pleasure of an existence which transcends yourself or a person such as a god? When you are gritting your teeth and losing your strength, the power and courage to go on comes with that serene pleasure aroused in your heart. It seems that this awareness is what Emerson meant when he talked of "living for the moment".

(And please feel free to improve on my "flowery" translation. I am still not sure why 喜ばれている is passive.)

Source: 中上級日本語、April 2014

  • Is this correctly transcribed? I've never seen 未条件 before. The few examples on Google seem to be either Chinese or typos for 無条件.
    – dainichi
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 1:58
  • @dainichi: Yes your are right. Correction made. Thanks
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 7:31
  • 2
    The subject of 無条件で喜ばれている is 自分が今ここに生きていることが. (ie. 自分や神と言った人間を越えた大きな存在 is the subject of 自分が今ここに生きていることを無条件で喜ぶ. 自分 feels the joy in the existence of a single rose, and 神といった人間を超えた大きな存在 feels the joy in the existence of 自分, without any 条件/conditions)
    – user1016
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 8:43
  • 2
    The そう in 一本のバラがそうであるように refers to 自分が今ここに生きていることが、自分や神と言った人間を越えた大きな存在に、無条件で喜ばれている. 「『(一本のバラがそうであるように、)自分が今ここに生きていることが、自分や神と言った人間を越えた大きな存在に、無条件で喜ばれている』と気づく時』...」 is a subordinate clause. The latter part (main clause) is parsed 『歯を食いしばってでも力みが抜けて、前を向く勇気と力が、穏やかな喜びとともに、心の内側から沸いてくる』のではないでしょうか。(≒のだと思います。)
    – user1016
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 8:57
  • @Chocolate, Oh, I didn't see this comment. You should post that as an answer.
    – Yang Muye
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 9:00

2 Answers 2


The important thing is to understand the overall syntactic structure of the sentence. That is not easy for a sentence of this size, and you will need semantic clues to guide the parsing.

Let me suggest some analytic steps you can go through.

  1. First, you might like to know what そうである refers to. Let's see some of the candidates (look for verb phrases):

    • 今ここに生きている
    • 無条件で喜ばれている
    • 心の内側から沸いてくる

    The third option "Arise from within your heart like a rose" is not likely. Roses do not arise from within your heart. The first option, "live here and now like the rose", I guess could theoretically work, but it makes more sense for it to be "unconditionally appreciated, like the rose". Also, if 一本のバラがそうであるように referred to 今ここに生きている, it would be more likely to be 一本のバラのように, since they are so close to each other.

  2. Next step could be to break down the top level sentence. Again, if you strictly look at syntax, there might several ways to parse it, but what makes the most sense is:

    ... 気づく時、... 心の内側から沸いてくるのではないでしょうか
    When you realize ..., ... arises from within your heart.

  3. Once you've broken down the top level sentence, break the parts down recursively. I'm not going to do all the steps for you, but hopefully you get the picture.

This is my take on the translation. It might not be the most idiomatic English, but it relatively true to the original sentence structure.

When you realize that - just like a rose (is appreciated) - your current existence here is unconditionally appreciated by yourself and greater beings such as God, do you not feel calm even if you were clenching your teeth, and do not the power and courage to go on, together with a serene pleasure, arise from within your heart?

The main point is: If you only think about syntax, there are often multiple ways to parse a sentence. To get the right parse, you need to understand the meaning of the words, so they can guide you.

  • Aaaah, does somebody know how to fix the enumeration?
    – dainichi
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 5:43
  • indent every paragraphs within a list item with 4 spaces, or use title (###) instead(, which I suggest). List handling is very annoying.
    – Yang Muye
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 5:48
  • @dainichi: Fantastic. I'll go through it again before accepting but FYR: this is the original reference to the rose grammar.about.com/od/60essays/a/selfrelianessay_5.htm
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 6:23
  • @dainichi: It took a while to get back to some of these details but, as you say, understanding the words is important: Do you know: (1)Does 存在 refer to a "being" or entity (such as a god) and (2) what is 力みが抜けて? I think 力み is inner strength but I find 抜ける nebulous: What is happening to our inner strength? Is it sapped or have we "found it"? I can't work out if it is working with or against our clenched teeth.
    – Tim
    Commented May 6, 2014 at 10:12
  • 1
    @Tim, Yes. Apart from "existence", 存在 can mean a "being". 力み does not mean "inner strength". 力む has negative connotations such as "strain" or "stress". 抜ける means for that stress to fizzle out or disappear.
    – dainichi
    Commented May 7, 2014 at 1:20

I will parse it as this:



This part seems to be the hardest part, it basically means:





When (5), even if (6), you still (7) (8), aren't you?

Dainichi has provided an English translation. It's seems that my understanding is at least not far wrong. So I merged my comment into the answer. It's not a translation.

If you know there is someone who is greater than you and says “I'm happy to see you alive / You make me happy”, you will forget all loneliness and dread and feel greet joy. Realizing the value and importance of the existence of yourself, that is what Emerson called “living for the moment”.

As for why 喜ばれている is used, it's may be related to another question. You can think it's just a passive form.

  • I think I might get the author's idea. He says: if you know there is someone who is superior to you and says “I'm happy to see you alive”, you will forget all loneliness and dread and feel greet joy. (Realizing the value and importance of the existence of yourself and living for it) is what Emerson called “the living for the moment”. I would like to hear advice from philosophers. @virmaior ?
    – Yang Muye
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 13:24
  • Yep, great answer, the only difference between our parses is that I group (6) and (7) together. I really think both parses are fine, my main reason for my choice is the position of the commas.
    – dainichi
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 7:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .