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啟蒙 is the Chinese word for enlightenment.
The first character means to open, to start, to begin, to commence, or to explain. The second character means deception or ignorance. It suggests that enlightenment is the opening or cutting through what deceives you in the world or the ignorance of the world. This title can also mean to educate.
The Japanese and Korean version of the first character of this title varies slightly from the Chinese. Please click on the Kanji to the right, instead of the button above, if you want the Japanese/Korean version.
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 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 a tree at the end, please see the Bodhi Tree entry.
菩提樹 is the full title of the Bodhi tree (a fig tree) under which Siddhartha Gautama (the legendary man 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 enlightenment under a wall scroll with this title.
冒地質多 is a Chinese and Japanese way to write Bodhicitta.
冒地質多 is often translated as “the enlightened mind” or “enlightened heart.”
This title is strictly Buddhist and won't make sense to Chinese or Japanese people who do not have an expansive background in Buddhist terms, concepts, and scripture.
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.”
悟 means enlightenment but can also mean to perceive, discern, realize, understand or comprehend.
悟 has the same meaning in Chinese, Japanese and Korean, though used most often with deep significance in Japanese culture and language. 悟 is often seen in Japan along with a secondary Hiragana character. We also offer that option but this is the more universal single-character entry.
悟り is the Japanese term for enlightenment which can also mean to perceive, discern, realize, understand, or comprehend.
The first character has the same meaning in Chinese and Korean but has deeper significance in Japanese culture and language. This version of Satori incorporates the Japanese secondary character (Hiragana, not Kanji) that adds the “ri” to Satori. It's unnecessary to have the second character, as it does not add to the meaning as much as clarity for the context in which you are using this term.
Before enlightenment or after, chores remain.
頓悟之前砍柴挑水; 頓悟之後砍柴挑水 means “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water; After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
This is a Chinese proverb that is attributed to 吴力 (Wú Lì) who lived between 1632 and 1718 - living part of his life as a devout Buddhist, and many years as a Catholic Jesuit Priest in China - what an interesting life!
This has been explained many times in many ways. I am a Buddhist, and here is my brief take on this proverb...
Before enlightenment, one may find daily chores mundane, tedious, and boring. However, upon reaching enlightenment one is not relieved of the details of daily life. An enlightened person will, however, see such chores as a joy, and do them mindfully.
There is another version floating around, which is 在你領悟之前砍柴、運水。在你領悟之後，砍柴、運水。
If you want this other version, just contact me. The meaning is the same, just different phrasing.
不比不知道一比吓一跳 is a Chinese proverb that literally means: [If one not does] not make comparisons, [one will] not know [the truth] when [one] compares, [one will be] greatly surprised.
This goes to the idea that if you do not know bad times, you cannot know what good times are.
You can not know light without experiencing darkness.
Another way to translate this would be: If you wish to be enlightened, you need to make comparisons and analyze every aspect (of a situation, issue, or problem).
覺醒武士 is not a commonly used title in Chinese but is sometimes used in Martial arts and military contexts to refer to a warrior who seems always to be fully aware, enlightened, knowledgeable, noble, and just.
The first two characters are a word that means: to awaken; to come to realize; awakened to the truth; the truth dawns upon one; scales fall from the eyes; to become aware.
The last two characters mean warrior but can also refer to a samurai, soldier, or fighter.
見性 has the same meaning as Satori but refers to the initial state or initial experience of enlightenment.
This can also mean “self-discovery,” “self-awareness,” or “consciousness of one's character.”
In a very religious context, this means to behold the Buddha nature within oneself.
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.
兼聽則明偏聽則暗 is an ancient Chinese proverb about getting all the information from all sides so that you truly understand a situation.
A man named Wei Zheng lived between 580-643 AD. He was a noble and wise historian and minister in the court of the early Tang Dynasty. The emperor once asked him, “What should an emperor do to understand the real-world situation, and what makes an emperor out-of-touch with reality?”
Wei Zheng replied, “Listen to both sides and you will be enlightened; listen to only one side and you will be left in the dark.”
Then Wei Zheng went on to cite examples of leaders in history that were victorious after heeding both sides of the story, and other leaders that met their doom because they believed one-sided stories which often came from flattering lips.
Please note that there is an unwritten rule when the same character appears twice in the same phrase, the calligrapher will alter the appearance so that no two characters are exactly alike in the same piece. This calligraphy has two repeating characters that will be written differently than they appear here.
A Japanese martial arts title/concept
The first Kanji alone means to wash, bathe, primness, cleanse or purify.
The second Kanji means heart, mind, soul, or essence.
Together, these two Kanji create a word defined as “purified spirit” or “enlightened attitude” within 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 as 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.
These Japanese Kanji, 安心立命, 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.”
In the Zen school, this is about settling one's body and life; attaining complete peace, and establishing one's course of life in accord with the ultimate reality.
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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|
|keimou / keimo||qǐ méng / qi3 meng2 / qi meng / qimeng||ch`i meng / chimeng / chi meng|
|Bodhi - Awakening Enlightenment||菩提||bodai||pú tí / pu2 ti2 / pu ti / puti||p`u t`i / puti / pu ti|
|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
|Bodhicitta: Enlightened Mind||冒地質多|
|mào dì zhì duō|
mao4 di4 zhi4 duo1
mao di zhi duo
|mao ti chih to
|Kensho Jobutsu - Enlightenment - Path to Buddha||見性成佛|
|ken shou jou butsu|
ken sho jo butsu
|悟||sato / go||wù / wu4 / wu|
|Chop Wood, Carry Water||頓悟之前砍柴挑水頓悟之后砍柴挑水|
|dùn wù zhī qián kǎn chái tiāo shuǐ dùn wù zhī hòu kǎn chái tiāo shuǐ|
dun4 wu4 zhi1 qian2 kan3 chai2 tiao1 shui3 dun4 wu4 zhi1 hou4 kan3 chai2 tiao1 shui3
dun wu zhi qian kan chai tiao shui dun wu zhi hou kan chai tiao shui
|tun wu chih ch`ien k`an ch`ai t`iao shui tun wu chih hou k`an ch`ai t`iao shui
tun wu chih chien kan chai tiao shui tun wu chih hou kan chai tiao shui
|Comparison Leads to Truth and Enlightenment||不比不知道一比嚇一跳|
|bù bǐ bù zhī dào yī bǐ xià yì tiào|
bu4 bi3 bu4 zhi1 dao4 yi1 bi3 xia4 yi4 tiao4
bu bi bu zhi dao yi bi xia yi tiao
|pu pi pu chih tao i pi hsia i t`iao
pu pi pu chih tao i pi hsia i tiao
|The True and Complete Enlightenment||眞覺|
|shinkaku||zhēn jué / zhen1 jue2 / zhen jue / zhenjue||chen chüeh / chenchüeh|
|jué xǐng wǔ shì|
jue2 xing3 wu3 shi4
jue xing wu shi
|chüeh hsing wu shih
|shou gi tai|
sho gi tai
|shèng yì dì|
sheng4 yi4 di4
sheng yi di
|sheng i ti
|shi shin kaku|
|zhì zhēn jué|
zhi4 zhen1 jue2
zhi zhen jue
|chih chen chüeh
|The Nature of Enlightenment in One's Mind||覺性|
|kakushou / kakusho||jué xìng / jue2 xing4 / jue xing / juexing||chüeh hsing / chüehhsing|
|Kensho - Initial Enlightenment||見性|
|ken shou / kenshou / ken sho||jiàn xìng|
|Listen to Both Sides and be Enlightened, Listen to One Side and be in the Dark||兼聽則明偏聽則暗|
|jiān tīng zé míng, piān tīng zé àn|
jian1 ting1 ze2 ming2, pian1 ting1 ze2 an4
jian ting ze ming, pian ting ze an
|chien t`ing tse ming, p`ien t`ing tse an
chien ting tse ming, pien ting tse an
|sen shin / senshin||xǐ xīn / xi3 xin1 / xi xin / xixin||hsi hsin / hsihsin|
|安心立命||an jin ritsu myou|
an jin ritsu myo
|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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