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11. Religious Seeker
13. Seeking Truth
18. Great Wisdom
19. Shaolin Temple
22. Light / Bright
23. The Middle Way
24. Zen Buddhism
The Bodhi or 菩提 is the moment of completion in Buddhism.
It is when all things become known, and you have completed your journey to enlightenment.
The reference is to the Bodhi tree where Siddhartha Gautama (the legendary man and who established the Buddhist religion), achieved enlightenment. Sometimes this is referred to as "the tree of enlightenment" but if you want the full version with the character for tree on the end, please see our other entry.
Generally the same meaning as Satori but referring to the initial state or initial experience of enlightenment. 見性 is a Zen Buddhist term that is not widely known outside of the religion. Used more in Japan than China.
This term is exclusively used by devout Buddhists. It is not a common term, and is remains an unknown concept to most Japanese and Chinese people. Some Japanese people will dispute whether this title is valid in the Japanese language. Only order this if you are sure this title is right for you.
菩提樹 is the full title of the Bodhi tree (a fig tree) under which Siddhartha Gautama (the legendary man and who established the Buddhist religion), achieved enlightenment.
Sometimes this is referred to as "the tree of enlightenment". If you don't have a Bodhi tree to sit under, maybe you can achieve your enlightenment under a wall scroll with this title.
Part of life in this universe is suffering.
All living things experience some form of suffering according to Buddhist teaching. This title is about accepting and understanding that the world is full of suffering.
This term is exclusively used by devout Buddhists. It is not a common term, and is remains an unknown concept to most Chinese, Japanese and Korean people.
念 is the simplest way to write "mindfulness" in Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
念 can be defined these ways: To read; to study (a degree course); to read aloud; to miss somebody (keeping them in your mind); idea; remembrance; sense; thought; feeling; desire; concern; attention; recollection; memory; to think on/about; reflect; repeat, intone; a moment.
Obviously, the context in which the character is used determines which definition or meaning is perceived. As a single character, it's open and perhaps ambiguous. Thus, it can be read with any or all of these meanings.
念 is used in a Buddhist context (often written as 正念 or "right mindfulness") with similar meanings of thought and contemplation.
In Japanese, this character is sometimes used as a name "Nen".
正命 (right living) is one of the Noble Eightfold Paths of Buddhism.
Right Living, along with Right Speech and Right Action constitute the path to Virtue.
Right Living means that a Buddhist should only take a job or pursue a career in a field that does no harm. Buddhists should not work in the arms trade, as pimps or in the field of prostitution, as a butcher or in a shop that kills or sells meat, in a laboratory that does animal research, or any other business that involves scheming or unethical behavior.
Another definition: Avoidance of professions that are harmful to sentient beings, such as slaughterer, hunter, dealer in weaponry or narcotics, etc.
This term is exclusively used by devout Buddhists. It is not a common term, and is remains an unknown concept to most Japanese and Chinese people.
正業 is one of the Noble Eightfold Paths of Buddhism. Right Action, along with Right Speech and Right Living constitute the path to Virtue.
The five precepts of Right Action are:
1. To refrain from destroying living beings (no murder, or any form of taking a life).
2. To refrain from stealing.
3. To refrain from sexual misconduct (adultery, rape, etc.).
4. To refrain from false speech (lying or trickery).
5. To refrain from intoxicants which lead to heedlessness (no drugs or alcohol).
This concept can be summarized as, "Avoidance of actions that conflict with moral discipline".
Note: In Japanese, when read by a non-Buddhist, this will mean "the right job/vocation".
This term is exclusively used by devout Buddhists. It is not a common term, and is remains an unknown concept to most Japanese and Chinese people.
佛 is the essence of the Buddha or Buddhism.
Depending on context, this word and character can be used to refer to the religion and lifestyle of Buddhism, or in some cases, the Buddha himself.
It is interesting to note that this word is separate from all others in the Chinese language. The sound of "fo" has only this meaning. 佛 is in contrast to many sounds in the Chinese language which can have one of four tones, and more than 20 possible characters and meanings. This language anomaly shows just how significant Buddhism has affected China since the ancient times.
More about Buddhism
佛 is also used with the same meaning in Korean Hanja.
It's used in the very religious context of Buddhism in Japan. It should be noted that there are two forms of this Kanji in use in Japan - this is the more formal/ancient version but it's rarely seen outside of religious artwork, and may not be recognized by all Japanese people.
It also acts as a suffix or first syllable for many Buddhist-related words in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
See our Buddhism & Zen page
These Japanese Kanji can be translated as "religious enlightenment" or "spiritual peace gained through faith".
Other dictionaries define as, "spiritual peace and enlightenment" or "keeping an unperturbed mind through faith".
My Buddhist dictionary defines it as, "spiritual peace and realization of enlightenment".
菩薩 is the title of a deity in Buddhism that exists to help you reach enlightenment.
In Buddhist beliefs, a bodhisattva (bodhisatta) is a being who is dedicated to helping us achieve enlightenment. Bodhisattva literally means enlightenment truth which is bodhi sattva in Sanskrit.
This term is sometimes used to refer to a kindhearted person, one who will sacrifice himself/herself for others, and lacks ego or desire but is instead devoted to the good and well-being of others.
尋求 means to seek or to look for something. Occasionally used in a Buddhist context for seeking something (enlightenment, knowledge, truth, meaning, etc).
尋求 is rarely used in Japanese, and almost exclusively in a Buddhist context (most Japanese will not recognize it as a Japanese word).
求道 means seeking for truth, or to seek (practice for, strive for) enlightenment.
求道 is used mostly in a Buddhist context, so some non-Buddhists may not recognize it.
寂靜 is the Chinese and old Japanese word for calmness, stillness, and tranquility.
In Buddhist context, this can refer to the calmness of the heart, enlightenment, or the state of being calm and quiet - free from temptation and distress. Basically a state of earthly nirvāṇa.
Note: The second character is written just slightly differently in modern Japanese (静 instead of 靜). Expect a slight variation if you order this from the Japanese master calligrapher. The version shown here is considered the ancient Japanese and original Chinese form.
降魔 means to overcome the Devil, Satan, Demons or Evil. There's a lot of ways to translate this including conquering the devil, evil spirits, evil influences, or someone who habitually performs negative/evil acts.
In Buddhist context, it means to overcome demons, e.g. as the Buddha did at his enlightenment.
苦海無邊, 回頭是岸 can be translated almost directly as, "The sea of bitterness has no bounds, turn your head to see the shore".
Often this proverb refers to how Buddhist enlightenment can allow one to shed off the abyss of worldly suffering. But it can apply to other religions. If you find yourself trapped in the hardship of this worldly life, take a new turn, and seek a path to salvation.
般若 means great wisdom or wondrous knowledge.
In the Buddhist context, this is prajna or prajñā, to know, to understand, to have the wisdom required to attain enlightenment.
Since this is a wisdom which transcends the realm of logic, the pure, absolute wisdom beyond the reach of words and concepts, it is not obtained through learning, but is realized for the first time through a religious experience.
少林寺 is the full title of the Shaolin Temple.
This refers to the Buddhist monastery famous for its kung fu monks.
少林寺 is also known in Japanese where they use the same characters but romanize it as Shourinji or Shōrinji.
Some believe this monastery and temple represent the place where Bodhidharma sat with his face to a wall for nine years leading to his discovery of enlightenment and establishment of Buddhism.
This literally means, "when three people meet, wisdom is exchanged".
Some will suggest this means when three people come together, their wisdom is multiplied.
That wisdom part can also be translated as wit, sagacity, intelligence, or Buddhist Prajna (insight leading to enlightenment).
In the middle of this proverb is "monju", suggesting "transcendent wisdom". This is where the multiplication of wisdom idea comes from.
Note: This is very similar to the Chinese proverb, "When 3 people meet, one becomes a teacher."
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
無常 is the state of being "not permanent", "not enduring", transitory, or evolving.
It can also mean variable or changeable. In some context, it can refer to a ghost that is supposed to take a soul upon death. Following that, this term can also mean to pass away or die.
In the Buddhist context, this is a reminder that everything in this world is ever-changing, and all circumstances of your life are temporary.
If you take the Buddhist philosophy further, none of these circumstances are real, and your existence is an illusion anyway. Thus, the idea of the eternal soul is perhaps just the attachment you have to your ego. Once you release your attachment to all impermanent things, you will be on your way to enlightenment and Buddhahood.
Language notes for this word when used outside the context of Buddhism:
In Korean Hanja, this means uncertainty, transiency, mutability, or evanescent.
In Japanese, the definition orbits closer to the state of being uncertain.
明 means light, bright, clear, clarity, to understand, or wise.
In Chinese this can refer to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) where it can also be the surname Ming.
In Japanese, this can be romanized many different ways when used as surnames or given names. 明 is a partial list of those names: Meishuu, Mei, Min, Myoujin, Myou, Hinata, Haru, Toshi, Tooru, Sayaka, Saya, Satoshi, Asumi, Akera, Akemine, Akesaki, Ake, Akuru, Akiraka, and Akira.
In the Buddhist context, this represents vidyā (knowledge). To expand that, Buddhists understand this to mean bright, clear, enlightenment, wisdom, or to understand. It represents Buddha-wisdom and its revelation; also the manifestation of a Buddha's light or effulgence.
In the most basic translation, this means road through the middle, or middle road.
The expanded meaning can be moderation, golden mean.
But if you are looking for this title, you are probably seeking the Buddhist definition, which is more complex.
中道 is the middle way or middle path of Buddhism. 中道 has various interpretations. In general, it denotes the mean between two extremes and has special reference to the mean between realism and nihilism, or eternal substantial existence and annihilation.
The Buddha teaches that one should not take things to extremes. Don't be extremely evil, and engage in debauchery and murder. But do not spend every waking out trying to be a perfect saint. Instead, take the middle path, try to help others, show loving kindness wherever you can, try not to do harm. If you do inadvertently harm another being, make amends if you can, and move on. Realize you are not perfect, but in time, a path of moderation lead toward proper living and enlightenment.
禪宗 is one way to title "Zen Buddhism". Because the original pronunciation of Zen in Chinese is Chan, you'll also see this expressed as Chan Buddhism.
From the Buddhist Dictionary:
The Chan, meditative or intuitional, sect usually said to have been established in China by Bodhidharma, the twenty-eighth patriarch, who brought the tradition of the Buddha-mind from India. This sect, believing in direct enlightenment, disregarded ritual and sūtras and depended upon the inner light and personal influence for the propagation of its tenets, founding itself on the esoteric tradition supposed to have been imparted to Kāśyapa by the Buddha, who indicated his meaning by plucking a flower without further explanation. Kāśyapa smiled in apprehension and is supposed to have passed on this mystic method to the patriarchs. The successor of Bodhidharma was 慧可 Huike, and he was succeeded by 僧璨 Sengcan; 道信 Daoxin; 弘忍 Hongren; 慧能 Huineng, and 神秀 Shenxiu, the sect dividing under the two latter into the southern and northern schools: the southern school became prominent, producing 南嶽 Nanyue and 靑原 Qingyuan, the former succeeded by 馬祖 Mazu, the latter by 石頭 Shitou. From Mazu's school arose the five later schools.
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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|
|Bodhi - Awakening Enlightenment||菩提||bodai||pú tí / pu2 ti2 / pu ti / puti||p`u t`i / puti / pu ti|
|Kensho - Initial Enlightenment||見性|
|ken shou / kenshou / ken sho / kensho||jiàn xìng|
|The Tree of Enlightenment|
The Bodhi Tree
|bodaiju||pú tí shù|
pu2 ti2 shu4
pu ti shu
|p`u t`i shu
pu ti shu
|Four Noble Truths: Suffering||苦諦|
|kutai||kǔ dì / ku3 di4 / ku di / kudi||k`u ti / kuti / ku ti|
|Mindfulness||念||nen||niàn / nian4 / nian||nien|
|5. Right Living|
|正命||sei myou / seimyou / sei myo / seimyo||zhèng mìng|
|4. Right Action|
|sei gyou / seigyou / sei gyo / seigyo||zhèng yè / zheng4 ye4 / zheng ye / zhengye||cheng yeh / chengyeh|
|佛||hotoke||fó / fo2 / fo|
|安心立命||an shin ritsu mei|
|bosatsu||pú sà / pu2 sa4 / pu sa / pusa||p`u sa / pusa / pu sa|
|Religious Seeker||乞求者||kotsugusha||qǐ qiú zhě|
qi3 qiu2 zhe3
qi qiu zhe
|ch`i ch`iu che
chi chiu che
|jingu||xún qiú / xun2 qiu2 / xun qiu / xunqiu||hsün ch`iu / hsünchiu / hsün chiu|
|Seeking Truth||求道||gu dou / gudou / gu do / gudo||qiú dào / qiu2 dao4 / qiu dao / qiudao||ch`iu tao / chiutao / chiu tao|
|sekisei / jakujou|
sekisei / jakujo
sekisei / jakujo
|jì jìng / ji4 jing4 / ji jing / jijing||chi ching / chiching|
|Overcome the Devil||降魔||gou ma / gouma / go ma / goma||xiáng mó / xiang2 mo2 / xiang mo / xiangmo||hsiang mo / hsiangmo|
|In the Abyss of Infinite Bitterness - Turn to the Shore||苦海無邊回頭是岸|
|kǔ hǎi wú biān huí tóu shì àn|
ku3 hai3 wu2 bian1 hui2 tou2 shi4 an4
ku hai wu bian hui tou shi an
|k`u hai wu pien hui t`ou shih an
ku hai wu pien hui tou shih an
|Great Wisdom||般若||hannya||bō rě / bo1 re3 / bo re / bore||po je / poje|
|Shaolin Temple||少林寺||shou rin ji|
sho rin ji
|shào lín sì|
shao4 lin2 si4
shao lin si
|shao lin ssu
|When Three People Gather, Wisdom is Multiplied||三人寄れば文殊の知恵||san nin yore ba monju no chie |
|mujou / mujo||wú cháng / wu2 chang2 / wu chang / wuchang||wu ch`ang / wuchang / wu chang|
|明||mei / myou / mei / myo / mei / myo||míng / ming2 / ming|
|The Middle Way||中道||chuu dou / chuudou / chu do / chudo||zhōng dào|
|zen shuu / zenshuu / zen shu / zenshu||chán zōng|
|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.
Some people may refer to this entry as Buddhist Enlightenment Kanji, Buddhist Enlightenment Characters, Buddhist Enlightenment in Mandarin Chinese, Buddhist Enlightenment Characters, Buddhist Enlightenment in Chinese Writing, Buddhist Enlightenment in Japanese Writing, Buddhist Enlightenment in Asian Writing, Buddhist Enlightenment Ideograms, Chinese Buddhist Enlightenment symbols, Buddhist Enlightenment Hieroglyphics, Buddhist Enlightenment Glyphs, Buddhist Enlightenment in Chinese Letters, Buddhist Enlightenment Hanzi, Buddhist Enlightenment in Japanese Kanji, Buddhist Enlightenment Pictograms, Buddhist Enlightenment in the Chinese Written-Language, or Buddhist Enlightenment in the Japanese Written-Language.
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