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This proverb literally means "Better to see something once rather than hear about it one hundred times" or "Telling me about something 100 times is not as good as seeing it once".
In English, we have the similar proverb of "Seeing is believing" but this has a bit of the "A picture paints a thousand words" meaning too.
Sometimes it's simply more prudent to verify with your own eyes.
This Japanese proverb is the rough equivalent of "seeing is believing", "one eye-witness is better than many hearsays", or "a picture is worth a thousand words".
Sometimes it's simply more prudent to verify with your own eyes.
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
見性成佛 is a universal phrase that suggests that one may see one's own nature and accomplish Buddhahood.
見性 suggests penetrating deep inside oneself to finally see one's "Original Mind".
成佛 refers to a sentient being who dispenses with illusions and delusions through ascetic practice, is enlightened to truth, and becomes a Buddha.
見性成佛 is used by Mahayana, Chan, and Zen Buddhists in China, Korea, and Japan.
You will also see this with the last character written as 仏 in Japanese. In the religious context, 佛 is commonly used to mean Buddha. If you want the other version, see Kenshō Jōbutsu 見性成仏
推拿 is "Tui Na", a Chinese version of therapeutic massage.
The title suggest a pushing and pulling motion.
In reality, this is the most legitimate form of massage in China. Seeing this on a sign in front of a building tells you it's a place for health improvement via massage. No mistaking this for any illicit version of massage.
見性成仏 or Kenshō Jōbutsu is the initial enlightenment that leads to self-awareness, becoming Buddha, and the path to enter Nirvana.
Kenshō Jōbutsu is a complex concept in Japanese Buddhism. 見性成仏 is probably better translated as "Seeing one’s nature and becoming a Buddha".
四無量心 is the cattāri brahmavihārā or catvāri apramāṇāni.
The four immeasurables, or infinite Buddha-states of mind. These four dhyānas include:
1. 慈無量心 boundless kindness, maitrī, or bestowing of joy or happiness.
2. 悲無量心 boundless pity, karuṇā, to save from suffering.
3. 喜無量心 boundless joy, muditā, on seeing others rescued from suffering.
4. 捨無量心 limitless indifference, upekṣā, i.e. rising above these emotions or giving up all things.
This is a lifelong suggestion for expanding your horizons by gaining knowledge, experience, and seeing the world.
Of course, this was written long ago when it was hard to travel 10,000 miles (at least 1000 years before the invention of the airplane).
With air travel and the business I'm in, I often achieve that lifetime goal on a monthly basis.
However, I am a little behind in the book count.
Note: An ancient Chinese mile (里 or lǐ) referred to in this proverb is about a third of a British/American mile. However, at that time, this was a great distance to travel.
輪回 / 輪廻 is a universal word in Japanese and Chinese that expresses the Buddhist idea of "reincarnation", "transmigration of souls" or "the eternal cycle of birth and death".
In some context, this can also mean "karma", and others will say it represents "samsara".
The first character means wheel, ring, turn, circle, loop or rotate.
The second character can be thought of as a suffix meaning "-times". This second character can also refer to something that revolves, returns, goes back, or a counter for the number of occurrences of some event.
Together the sum supersedes the parts and it means reincarnation. But knowing the seeing the essence of each character may help you understand some of the meaning behind the word.
Shown to the right is the more common way to write the second character in Japanese. it’s an alternate form of this character in Chinese (so neither way is technically wrong in either language). If you select a Japanese calligrapher, expect that is will look like the Kanji to the right.
麒麟 is the title of a mythical beast of Asia.
The animal is thought to be related to the giraffe, and in some ways, it is a giraffe. However, it is often depicted with the horns of a dragon or deer and sometimes with the body like a horse but many variations exist.
In Japanese it is pronounced "Kirin" as in "Kirin Ichiban" beer.
1. 麒麟 is sometimes spelled as "kylin".
2. In Japanese, this is the only Kanji word for giraffe. Therefore in Japan, this word needs context to know whether you are talking about the mythical creature or the long-necked giraffe of Africa.
3. Apparently, this was the first word used for regular giraffes in China (some were brought from Africa to China during the Ming Dynasty - probably around the year 1400). Though the mythical creature may have existed before, the name "qilin" was given to the "new giraffe". 麒麟 is because, more than 600 years ago, giraffes somewhat matched the mythical creature's description when Chinese people saw them for the first time. Later, to avoid such an ambiguous title, a three-character word was devised to mean a "giraffe of Africa". The characters for "qilin" shown here are only for the mythological version in modern Chinese.
4. More information about the qilin / kirin from Wikipedia.
5. This creature is sometimes translated as the "Chinese Unicorn", even though it is generally portrayed with two horns. I think this is done more for the fantasy aspect of the unicorn and because most westerners don't know what a qilin or kirin is (this avoids a long explanation by the translator).
6. In Korean, this can mean kirin or simply giraffe (usually the mythological creature is what they would think of when seeing these characters alone on a wall scroll).
Long ago in what is now China, there were many kingdoms throughout the land. This time period is known as "The Warring States Period" by historians because these kingdoms often did not get along with each other.
Some time around 279 B.C. the Kingdom of Chu was a large but not particularly powerful kingdom. Part of the reason it lacked power was the fact that the King was surrounded by "yes men" who told him only what he wanted to hear. Many of the King's court officials were corrupt and incompetent which did not help the situation.
The King was not blameless himself, as he started spending much of his time being entertained by his many concubines.
One of the King's ministers, Zhuang Xin, saw problems on the horizon for the Kingdom, and warned the King, "Your Majesty, you are surrounded by people who tell you what you want to hear. They tell you things to make you happy, and cause you to ignore important state affairs. If this is allowed to continue, the Kingdom of Chu will surely perish, and fall into ruins".
This enraged the King who scolded Zhuang Xin for insulting the country and accused him of trying to create resentment among the people. Zhuang Xin explained, "I dare not curse the Kingdom of Chu but I feel that we face great danger in the future because of the current situation". The King was simply not impressed with Zhuang Xin's words.
Seeing the King's displeasure with him and the King's fondness for his court of corrupt officials, Zhuang Xin asked permission of the King that he may take leave of the Kingdom of Chu, and travel to the State of Zhao to live. The King agreed, and Zhuang Xin left the Kingdom of Chu, perhaps forever.
Five months later, troops from the neighboring Kingdom of Qin invaded Chu, taking a huge tract of land. The King of Chu went into exile, and it appeared that soon, the Kingdom of Chu would no longer exist.
The King of Chu remembered the words of Zhuang Xin, and sent some of his men to find him. Immediately, Zhuang Xin returned to meet the King. The first question asked by the King was, "What can I do now?"
Zhuang Xin told the King this story:
A shepherd woke one morning to find a sheep missing. Looking at the pen saw a hole in the fence where a wolf had come through to steal one of his sheep. His friends told him that he had best fix the hole at once. But the Shepherd thought since the sheep is already gone, there is no use fixing the hole.
The next morning, another sheep was missing. And the Shepherd realized that he must mend the fence at once. Zhuang Xin then went on to make suggestions about what could be done to reclaim the land lost to the Kingdom of Qin, and reclaim the former glory and integrity in the Kingdom of Chu.
The Chinese idiom shown above came from this reply from Zhuang Xin to the King of Chu almost 2,300 years ago.
It translates roughly into English as...
"Even if you have lost some sheep, it's never too late to mend the fence".
This proverb is often used in modern China when suggesting in a hopeful way that someone change their ways, or fix something in their life. It might be used to suggest fixing a marriage, quit smoking, or getting back on track after taking an unfortunate path in life among other things one might fix in their life.
I suppose in the same way that we might say, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" in our western cultures to suggest that you can always start anew.
Note: This does have Korean pronunciation but is not a well-known proverb in Korean (only Koreans familiar with ancient Chinese history would know it). Best if your audience is Chinese.
The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji (Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|Seeing is Believing||百聞不如一見|
|bǎi wén bù rú yí jiàn|
bai3 wen2 bu4 ru2 yi2 jian4
bai wen bu ru yi jian
|pai wen pu ju i chien
|Seeing is Believing||百聞は一見に如かず||hyakubun wa ikken ni shikazu|
hyakubun wa iken ni shikazu
|Seeing one’s Nature and becoming a Buddha||見性成佛|
|ken shou jou butsu|
ken sho jo butsu
|jiàn xìng chéng fó|
jian4 xing4 cheng2 fo2
jian xing cheng fo
|chien hsing ch`eng fo
chien hsing cheng fo
|Therapeutic Massage||推拿||tuī ná / tui1 na2 / tui na / tuina||t`ui na / tuina / tui na|
|Kensho Jobutsu - Enlightenment - Path to Buddha||見性成佛|
|ken shou jou butsu|
ken sho jo butsu
|shi mur you shin|
shi mur yo shin
|sì wú liàng xīn|
si4 wu2 liang4 xin1
si wu liang xin
|ssu wu liang hsin
|Read 10,000 Books, Travel 10,000 Miles||讀萬卷書行萬里路|
|dú wàn juǎn shū, xíng wàn lǐ lù|
du2 wan4 juan3 shu1 xing2 wan4 li3 lu4
du wan juan shu xing wan li lu
|tu wan chüan shu hsing wan li lu|
Transmigration of Souls
|輪回 / 輪廻|
|rin ne / rinne||lún huí / lun2 hui2 / lun hui / lunhui|
|麒麟||kirin||qí lǐn / qi2 lin3 / qi lin / qilin||ch`i lin / chilin / chi lin|
|Better Late Than Never||亡羊補牢猶未為晚|
|wáng yáng bǔ láo yóu wèi wéi wǎn|
wang2 yang2 bu3 lao2 you2 wei4 wei2 wan3
wang yang bu lao you wei wei wan
|wang yang pu lao yu wei wei wan
|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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All of our calligraphy wall scrolls are handmade.
When the calligrapher finishes creating your artwork, it is taken to my art mounting workshop in Beijing where a wall scroll is made by hand from a combination of silk, rice paper, and wood.
After we create your wall scroll, it takes at least two weeks for air mail delivery from Beijing to you.
Allow a few weeks for delivery. Rush service speeds it up by a week or two for $10!
When you select your calligraphy, you'll be taken to another page where you can choose various custom options.
The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size"
single-character wall scroll.
We also offer custom wall scrolls in small, medium, and an even-larger jumbo size.
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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