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Calm Like Water in Chinese / Japanese...

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Ultimate Goodness of Water

Quote from Lao Tzu
shàng shàn ruò shuǐ
Ultimate Goodness of Water Vertical Wall Scroll

This quote is sometimes presented as, "Be like water."

However, this is an ancient quote from the great philosopher Lao Tzu. It basically suggests that the ultimate goodness and purity (in the world) is water. Many take this as a suggestion to be like pure/good water.

Be Like Water

Quote from Lao Tzu
ruò shuǐ
Be Like Water Vertical Wall Scroll

若水 is part of a very old saying from Lao Tzu.

It these two characters, there is a suggestion to be like water. The full phrase is about the goodness and purity of water. So, when this suggests being like water, it is actually a suggestion to be a good person (one who does not dishonor himself/herself etc).

Mind Like Water

Mizu No Kokoro
mizu no kokoro
Mind Like Water Vertical Wall Scroll

水の心 is the Japanese Buddhist and martial arts phrase, "mizu no kokoro," which means, "mind like water" or "heart of water."

The phrase is a metaphor describing the pond that clearly reflects it's surroundings when calm but whose images are obscured once a pebble is dropped into its waters.

Be Like Water

xiàng shuǐ yí yàng
Be Like Water Vertical Wall Scroll

象水一樣 is a short quote from a much longer statement by Bruce Lee.

He was summarizing how people should be flexible to all circumstances, attacks, or situations. At the end, he exclaims, "Be like water my friend." 象水一樣 is the, "Be like water" part alone, since that seems to be what most people want.




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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji (Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Ultimate Goodness of Water上善若水shàng shàn ruò shuǐ
shang4 shan4 ruo4 shui3
shang shan ruo shui
shangshanruoshui
shang shan jo shui
shangshanjoshui
Be Like Water若水ruò shuǐ / ruo4 shui3 / ruo shui / ruoshuijo shui / joshui
Mind Like Water水の心mizu no kokoro
mizunokokoro
Be Like Water象水一樣
象水一样
xiàng shuǐ yí yàng
xiang4 shui3 yi2 yang4
xiang shui yi yang
xiangshuiyiyang
hsiang shui i yang
hsiangshuiiyang
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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Be Like Water Vertical Wall Scroll
Be Like Water Vertical Wall Scroll
Be Like Water Vertical Wall Scroll
Be Like Water Vertical Wall Scroll


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Be Like Water Vertical Portrait
Be Like Water Horizontal Wall Scroll
Be Like Water Vertical Portrait
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A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

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.

A professional Chinese Calligrapher

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.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

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.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

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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