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This is probably the best way to express the idea of "Body, Mind and Spirit" in Chinese and old Korean Hanja. We are actually using the word for "heart" here because for thousands of years, the heart was thought to be the place where your thoughts, feelings and emotions came from. We do something similar in the west when we say "warm-hearted" or "I love you with all of my heart." In this context, heart = mind in Asian language and culture.
The very literal translation of these three characters is "body, heart & spirit" which could also be interpreted as "body mind & soul."
We have arranged these characters in this order because it simply "feels" like the proper order in the Chinese language. Word lists like this are not so common for calligraphy artwork, so we have to be careful to put them in the most natural order. It should be noted that this is not a common title in Asia, nor is it considered an actual phrase (as it lacks a clear subject, verb, and object).
In Japanese Kanji, they use an alternate form of the character for soul or spirit. If you want this using the Japanese alternate, please click on the Kanji shown to the right instead of the button above.
Japanese disclaimer: This is not a natural phrase/list in Japanese. While not totally-natural in Chinese, this word list is best if your audience is Chinese.
心 would often be translated as "heart".
However, because it was believed in Chinese culture thousands of years that your consciousness and thoughts came from the big red organ in the middle of your chest, it also means "mind" or "spirit" and sometimes even "soul."
In Korean, beyond heart, mind, and spirit, this character can mean moral, nature, mind, affections, intentions, core, and center. In fact, it is used in Chinese to mean "center" as well but only with another character in front of it. For instance, "medical center" or even "shopping center." Separately and alone, it will not be read with that "center" meaning unless thought of as "the center of your soul."
The idea of "morality of mind" goes along with "wu de" (martial morality or virtues of the warrior).
Here, the first character is a representation of your heart or mind.
The second character refers to morality or virtue.
This can also be translated as "morality of heart," "virtue of heart," or "virtue of the mind."
Note that since ancient times in Asia, the idea of your mind (the place where your soul resides, and your thought originate from) has been associated with the heart. Just as in western culture where we say "it comes from the heart," or "heartfelt emotions," there is a belief that your heart and mind are one and the same (medical science now begs to differ).
First off, this should only be used in context of Japanese martial arts. In Chinese, it's a rather sad title (like a broken heart). In Chinese, the first character alone means destroyed, spoiled, ruined, injured, cruel, oppressive, savage, incomplete, disabled. However, in Japanese, it's remainder, leftover, balance, or lingering.
The second character means heart, mind, soul, or essence in both languages.
殘心 is one of the five spirits of the warrior (budo), and is often used as a Japanese martial arts tenet. Under that context, places such as the Budo Dojo define it this way: The spirit of zanshin is the state of the remaining or lingering spirit. It is often described as a sustained and heightened state of awareness and mental follow-through. However, true zanshin is a state of focus or concentration before, during, and after the execution of a technique, where a link or connection between uke and nage is preserved. Zanshin is the state of mind that allows us to stay spiritually connected, not only to a single attacker but to multiple attackers and even an entire context; a space, a time, an event.
In modern Japan (and Simplified Chinese), they use a different version of the first character, as seen to the right. Click on this character to the right instead of the button above if you want this modern Japanese version of lingering mind / zanshin.
初心 is often translated in Japanese as "beginner's mind" or "beginner's spirit."
In Chinese, the dictionary definition is "one's original intention."
The first character means first, initial, primary, junior, beginning, or basic.
The second character means heart, mind, soul, or essence.
初心 is one of the five spirits of the warrior (budo), and is often used as a Japanese martial arts tenet. Under that context, places such as the Budo Dojo define it this way: The state of shoshin is that of a beginners mind. It is a state of awareness the remains always fully conscious, aware, and prepared to see things for the first time. The attitude of shoshin is essential to continued learning.
精神 is the kind of spirit that you have if you perform well in sports or competition. It is the idea of having a good attitude, and putting your all into something - so much so that others can see or feel your spirit. It is the essence of your being that can only be subjectively described because there are no words that can fully explain what "spirit" really is.
For your information:
My Japanese dictionary further tries to explain this word by comparing it to mind, soul, heart or intention.
My Chinese dictionary compares these characters to meanings like vigor, vitality, drive and mentality.
My Korean dictionary defines this as mind, spirit and soul.
This can be translated as the warrior's spirit or warrior's soul. The first two characters can be translated as "warrior" or literally "brave soldier/man" although some will translate this word as "hero." Therefore, this is also how to say "heroic spirit."
The second two characters mean vigor, vitality, drive, spirit, mind, heart, mental essence and psychological component. Basically "your soul."
We have two versions of this phrase. The only difference is the first two and last two characters are swapped. The version here suggests that you admire or like the idea of the spirit of a warrior. The other version suggests that you are the warrior or hero.
This Chinese and Japanese phrase is a direct translation for the western idea of inner peace.
The first two characters contain the idea of "heart," "innermost being," or "deep in the/your inner mind."
The last two characters mean "tranquil" and "serene."
I have seen this phrase used as "inner peace" for art prints and even on the side of coffee cups. But I think the translation is too literal. It feels like a direct translation from English rather than a nicely composed Chinese or Japanese phrase. See my other entries for "inner peace."
神 is the simplest way to write spirit in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean.
This single character alone will conjure up ideas of the spiritual world. 神 can also be translated as "vital awareness" as in the fact that one must know they exist to exist (I think, therefore, I am).
Other translations include:
God, deity, mysterious, divine essence, lively, spiritual being, divinity, supernatural, soul, mind, nerves, and energy. In some extended context it can mean genius or unusual.
Japanese romanizations vary a lot when this character is combined into other words. However, shin is the original pronunciation taken from Chinese into Japanese. You'll also see it romanized as kami, gami, jin, and a few others, depending on context.
魂魄 is a Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja term for ghost, soul, or spirit.
It's used in the context of Buddhism as:
Animus and anima; the spiritual nature or mind, and the animal soul; the two are defined as mind and body or mental and physical, the invisible soul inhabiting the visible body, the former being celestial, the latter terrestrial.
This can be translated as the spirit or soul of a warrior. The first two characters can be translated as vigor, vitality, drive, spirit, mind, heart, mental essence and psychological component. Basically "your soul."
The second two characters mean "warrior" or literally "brave soldier/man" although some will translate this word as "hero." Therefore, this is also how to say "soul of a hero."
Note: This title is best for Chinese and old Korean. It does make sense in Japanese but is not a common or natural Kanji combination in Japanese.
We have two versions of this phrase. The only difference is the first two and last two characters are swapped. The version here suggests that you are the warrior or hero. The other version suggests that you admire or like the idea of the spirit of a warrior.
心道 means "The Way of the Heart" or "The Way of the Soul." The first character means "heart" but can also mean soul, spirit, mind, or your essence. In this case, it is most accurately translated with the heart or soul meaning.
The second character is Dao as in Daoism. Please note, this is the same thing as Tao as in Taoism (just Romanized differently - it's always been the same in Chinese for about 2300 years.
龍虎精神 means the spirit of the dragon and tiger. It speaks to the vitality and vigor that is the nature of these two creatures.
Beyond "spirit," the second two characters can also mean mind, soul, or heart. Therefore, you can also say this means "Heart of the Dragon and Tiger," etc.
龍虎精神 is often titled as "Ryukoseishin" in many Japanese martial arts.
The first Kanji alone means to wash, to bathe, primness, cleanse or purify.
The second Kanji means heart, mind, soul, or essence.
Together, these two Kanji create a word that is defined as "purified spirit" or "enlightened attitude" within the context of Japanese martial arts.
洗心 is one of the five spirits of the warrior (budo), and is often used as a Japanese martial arts tenet. Under that context it's often defined this way: A spirit that protects and harmonizes the universe. Senshin is a spirit of compassion that embraces and serves all humanity and whose function is to reconcile discord in the world. It holds all life to be sacred. It is the Buddha mind.
This title will only be familiar to Japanese who practice certain martial arts. Others may not recognize this word at all.
洗心 does not show up as a word in too many Chinese dictionaries but it can be read and has the same meaning in Chinese.
There is an issue with the first character. The original, and probably most correct version is shown above. However, many dojo documents and other sources have used a more simple first character. Arguments ensue about which version is correct. If you want to be correct in the Japanese language, use the "Select and Customize" button above. If you want to match the Kanji used by your dojo, click the Kanji shown to the right. There is a slightly different meaning with this first character which means before, ahead, previous, future, precedence.
獨立心 means independent spirit or independent heart in Japanese.
The first two characters mean independent or independence. The third character means spirit, heart or mind.
獨立心 is a Japanese term, although Chinese people would be able to guess the meaning (the characters make sense individually in Chinese but are not often used this way). Also, the first character would be written 獨 in Traditional Chinese versus 独 which is the Simplified Chinese and modern Japanese version.
The first character means "for a particular person, occasion, or purpose," "focused on one single thing," "concentrated" and sometimes, "special."
The second character means "heart" or "mind" by itself.
Together, these two characters make a word that means, "paying attention with your heart." It's often translated as, "dedication," as in "be absorbed in" or "concentrate one's efforts." It's also used to mean, "with single mind," "whole-heartedly," "paying attention," "undivided attention," "concentration (-ed)," "engrossed," "devotionally (listening/watching)," and/or "attentive."
My favorite translation, which comes from the Oxford Advanced Chinese/English Dictionary is, "wholehearted devotion."
If it seems like the meaning of this word is quite open, you are correct. The context in which the word is used matters a lot. It can mean different things depending on how you use it. This makes it kind of nice as you can decide what this means to you (within some limits). This word is always positive in meaning, so even if a Chinese person reads it differently than you, it will still have a good meaning.
In Japanese, they tend to use a variation of the second character which has one less stroke. If you want your calligraphy written this Japanese form, please click on the Kanji shown to the right instead of the button above. Note: Japanese and Chinese people will recognize either form.
魂の友 is one of a few ways to write "Soul Mates" in Japanese.
The first Kanji means soul, spirit, ghost, immortal soul, the mind, or conscious mind. From Sanskrit it's Vijñāna.
The middle character is a Japanese Hiragana connecting or possessive article that links the two ideas together.
The last Kanji means friends or friendship.
心魂 is "heart and soul" in Japanese Kanji.
The first character means heart (but can also mean mind or soul).
The last character means soul or spirit (spiritual essence).
The first two characters mean freedom or liberty.
The middle character is a connecting Hiragana which is needed for Japanese grammar.
The last two characters mean spirit, heart, mind, or soul.
Together, this is a title that is very similar to the English term "free spirit."
獨立精神 means independent spirit in Chinese.
The first two characters mean independent, independence, or to stand alone.
The last two characters can mean spirit, spiritual, vigor, vitality, drive, mind, consciousness, thought, essence, heart or soul.
With this information, you can make your own translation combination such as "independent heart," "stand alone spirit," or more creatively, "the drive to stand alone" in English. There are a lot of ways to interpret 獨立精神.
不動心 is one of the five spirits of the warrior (budo), and is often used as a Japanese martial arts tenet.
Under that context, places such as the Budo Dojo define it this way: An unshakable mind and an immovable spirit is the state of fudoshin. It is courage and stability displayed both mentally and physically. Rather than indicating rigidity and inflexibility, fudoshin describes a condition that is not easily upset by internal thoughts or external forces. It is capable of receiving a strong attack while retaining composure and balance. It receives and yields lightly, grounds to the earth, and reflects aggression back to the source.
Other translations of this title include imperturbability, steadfastness, keeping a cool head in an emergency, or keeping one's calm (during a fight).
The first two Kanji alone mean immobility, firmness, fixed, steadfastness, motionless, idle.
The last Kanji means heart, mind, soul, or essence.
Together, these three Kanji create a title that is defined as "immovable mind" within the context of Japanese martial arts. However, in Chinese it would mean "motionless heart" and in Korean Hanja, "wafting heart" or "floating heart."
This title speaks of one's soul or spirit, and the capacity or strength that soul possesses.
The first two characters mean mind, heart, spirit, and/or soul.
The last two characters mean strength, capacity, or ability.
Note: Separately, these are two words in Japanese, and can be pronounced but this does not make a natural title in Japanese (best if your audience is Chinese).
靜心 is how to write "peaceful heart" in Chinese.
The first character means peaceful, calm, and quiet. The second means heart but can also mean mind, soul, or spirit.
Because the word for heart / mind / soul is interchangeable in Chinese, this can also be translated as "a peaceful soul" or "a quiet mind."
I have also seen this translated as "placid temperament" or "spirit of serenity," especially from Japanese.
While they once used the same first character form in Japan, they now use a slightly-simplified version in modern Japan (after WWII). This version is shown to the right, and can be selected for your wall scroll by clicking on that Kanji instead of the button above.
This often gets translated as "Mind Sword Body," or "Spirit, Sword and Body as One." But I think these translations don't tell you enough about what this is really saying.
In this context, 気, which is the modern Japanese version of 氣, means spiritual and unseen energy or "life energy." In some cases, 気 can be translated as spirit, feeling, or nature. If defined as mind, it's more about invisible or intangible part of one's mind (or soul).
剣 is the Japanese version of 劍 meaning sword.
体 is the modern Japanese version of 體 meaning body.
The Kanji 一 means one, and in this case suggests "all in one." The Kanji 到 means to send, deliver, or convey. But together, 一到 suggests all these things in agreement, union cooperation, or in concert.
初心流 is often translated in Japanese as "beginner's mind style" or "beginner's spirit method."
The first character means first, initial, primary, junior, beginning, or basic.
The second character means heart, mind, soul, or essence.
The third character means style, method, or some will translate it as school.
Please note, there is more than one martial arts school that romanizes as Shoshin-Ryu.
隨心而行 is the closest way to express this idea in Chinese. Literally translated, this phrase means, "Allow your heart to dictate your behavior" or "Let your heart guide your conduct" in Chinese. You could also translate this as "follow your heart." Or, with a bit of imagination, it could mean: "let your spirit be your guide."
Note that in some cases, "heart" can mean "mind," "soul" or even "spirit" in Chinese. In ancient China, it was thought that the big pumping organ in your chest was where your thoughts came from, or where your soul resides.
Ancient western thought followed a similar belief. Thus phrases like "I love you with all my heart" and "I give you my whole heart."
These are the characters jing, qi, and shen.
As a set, these three characters are known in English as the treasures of traditional Chinese medicine, the treasures of Qi Gong, or the three treasures of Taoism / Daoism.
Sometimes this set is titled as 三寶 (sānbǎo) or "three treasures" but here, we're writing each treasure out.
Here's how these characters are perceived in this context...
Jing: nutritive essence; refined; perfected; pure
Qi: vitality; energy; force; breath; vigor
Shen: spirit; soul; mind; being
To keep it simple, you can use, "essence, vitality and spirit," to define these.
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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|Mind, Body and Spirit||身心靈 / 身心霊|
|mi shin rei|
|shēn xīn líng|
shen1 xin1 ling2
shen xin ling
|shen hsin ling
|心||kokoro||xīn / xin1 / xin||hsin|
|Morality of Mind||心德||xīn dé / xin1 de2 / xin de / xinde||hsin te / hsinte|
|zan shin / zanshin||cán xīn / can2 xin1 / can xin / canxin||ts`an hsin / tsanhsin / tsan hsin|
|Mind of the Beginner||初心||sho shin / shoshin||chū xīn / chu1 xin1 / chu xin / chuxin||ch`u hsin / chuhsin / chu hsin|
|Spirit||精神||sei shin / seishin||jīng shén|
|勇士精神||yǒng shì jīng shén|
yong3 shi4 jing1 shen2
yong shi jing shen
|yung shih ching shen
|nèi xīn píng jìng|
nei4 xin1 ping2 jing4
nei xin ping jing
|nei hsin p`ing ching
nei hsin ping ching
|měi lì de xīn líng|
mei3 li4 de xin1 ling2
mei li de xin ling
|mei li te hsin ling
|神||shin / kami||shén / shen2 / shen|
|魂魄||kon paku / konpaku||hún pò / hun2 po4 / hun po / hunpo||hun p`o / hunpo / hun po|
|Soul of a Warrior||精神勇士||jīng shén yǒng shì|
jing1 shen2 yong3 shi4
jing shen yong shi
|ching shen yung shih
Dao of the Heart
|心道||xīn dào / xin1 dao4 / xin dao / xindao||hsin tao / hsintao|
|The Spirit of Dragon and Tiger||龍虎精神|
|ryu ko sei shin|
|lóng hǔ jīng shén|
long2 hu3 jing1 shen2
long hu jing shen
|lung hu ching shen
|sen shin / senshin||xǐ xīn / xi3 xin1 / xi xin / xixin||hsi hsin / hsihsin|
|專心 / 専心 / 耑心|
|sen shin / senshin||zhuān xīn|
|Soul Mates||魂の友||tamashii no tomo|
tamashi no tomo
|Heart and Soul||心魂||shin kon / shinkon|
|Heart and Soul||心與靈|
|xīn yǔ líng|
xin1 yu3 ling2
xin yu ling
|hsin yü ling
|Free Spirit||自由精神||zì yóu jīng shén|
zi4 you2 jing1 shen2
zi you jing shen
|tzu yu ching shen
|Free Spirit||自由な精神||ji yuu na sei shin|
ji yu na sei shin
|dú lì jīng shén|
du2 li4 jing1 shen2
du li jing shen
|tu li ching shen
|Immovable Mind||不動心||fu dou shin|
fu do shin
Strength of Spirit
|jīng shén lì liàng|
jing1 shen2 li4 liang4
jing shen li liang
|ching shen li liang
|shizugokoro / seishin||jìng xīn / jing4 xin1 / jing xin / jingxin||ching hsin / chinghsin|
|Energy Sword Body in Concert||気剣体一致 / 氣劍體一致|
|ki ken tai icchi|
ki ken tai ichi
|Shoshin-Ryu||初心流||shou shin ryuu|
sho shin ryu
|Listen to Your Heart|
Follow Your Heart
|suí xīn ér xíng|
sui2 xin1 er2 xing2
sui xin er xing
|sui hsin erh hsing
|Three Treasures of Chinese Medicine||精氣神|
|jīng qì shén|
jing1 qi4 shen2
jing qi shen
|ching ch`i shen
ching chi shen
|In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.|
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.
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Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.
There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.
Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.
The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.
Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.
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