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9. Great Wisdom
18. Light / Bright
智 is the simplest way to write wisdom in Chinese, Korean Hanja, and Japanese Kanji.
Being a single character, the wisdom meaning is open to interpretation, and can also mean intellect, knowledge or reason, resourcefulness, or wit.
智 is also one of the five tenets of Confucius.
智 is sometimes included in the Bushido code but usually not considered part of the seven key concepts of the code.
See our Wisdom in Chinese, Japanese and Korean page for more wisdom-related calligraphy.
知識 has the very strong meaning of "knowledge" and in some context, "learning".
The first character represents "to know" or "to realize".
The second character alone refers to the ability to "recognize", or "realize" and can also be used to mean "knowing".
This Chinese proverb means, "Fall into a moat and you will gain wisdom from the experience".
It really suggests that the failures, troubles, frustrations, and setbacks that you encounter in your life are actually helping you to find wisdom. Some would also translate this proverb as, "Learn from your mistakes" or "Learn from your experience".
If you are studying Chinese, you will recognize the first character as "eat" but in this case, it means to "experience" (as used in this proverb, it is suggesting that you have fallen into a moat and/or had a hard time crossing it).
Literally translated character by character, this whole proverb is, "Experience one moat, gain one wisdom/knowledge".
Note: This can be pronounced in Korean but it's not a commonly used phrase.
不經一事 means, "You can't gain knowledge without practical experience".
不經一事 is the short form (first half) of a longer Chinese proverb. These 4 characters remind you that wisdom only comes from experience.
仁義禮智信 are the core of Confucius philosophy.
仁 = Benevolence / Charity
義 = Justice / Rectitude
禮 = Courtesy / Politeness / Tact
智 = Wisdom / Knowledge
信 = Fidelity / Trust / Sincerity
Many of these concepts can be found in various religious teachings. Though it should be clearly understood that Confucianism is not a religion but should instead be considered a moral code for a proper and civilized society.
This title is also labeled, "5 Confucian virtues".
If you order this from the Japanese calligrapher, expect the middle Kanji to be written in a more simple form (as seen to the right). This can also be romanized as "jin gi rei satoshi shin" in Japanese. Not all Japanese will recognize this as Confucian tenets but they will know all the meanings of the characters.
The first character means, "wise" or "smart" and the second character means "intelligence".
I have also seen these two characters translated together as knowledge, sagacity, sense, and intelligence.
Note: 智慧 is used commonly in Chinese and is a less-common word in Japanese and Korean. If your audience is Japanese, I suggest our other Japanese wisdom option.
This means intellect or wisdom in Japanese too but is a more unusual way to write this word (though both versions are pronounced the same in Japanese).
See Also: Learn From Wisdom
When you meet a wise person, you should learn from them and be inspired to become as wise as they are.
見賢思齊 is a pretty long proverb in English but in Chinese it's only four characters.
However, in Chinese the deeper meaning often surpass the dictionary definition of each character.
In this case, you should seek wise people to learn from throughout your life...
Always try to learn enough to become equal to them. It also suggests that the process of learning and seeking wisdom is a non-ending cycle.
See Also: Knowledge
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.
You can translate this Chinese proverb a couple of ways.
The first is: You cannot gain knowledge without practice.
The second, and perhaps more popular way is: Wisdom comes from experience.
It literally means if you are inattentive to your affairs or situations you encounter, you will not gain or grow any wisdom or intellect.
These two characters mean intelligence or intelligent.
The first character means wisdom, intellect or knowledge.
The second means ability, talent, skill, capacity, capable, able, and can even mean competent.
Together, the compound word can mean "capacity for wisdom", "useful knowledge", or even "mental power". Obviously this translates more clearly into English as "intelligence".
Note: 智能 / 知能 is not the same word used to mean "military intelligence". See our other entry for that.
In modern Japan, they tend to use a version of the first character without the bottom radical. If your audience for this artwork is Japanese, please click on the Kanji to the right instead of the button above.
There are several ways to translate this ancient proverb. Translated literally and directly it says, "Open roll has/yields benefit".
To understand that, you must know a few things...
First, Chinese characters and language have deeper meanings that often are not spoken but are understood - especially with ancient text like this. Example: It's understood that the "benefit" referred to in this proverb is to the mind of the reader. Just the last character expresses that whole idea.
Second, Chinese proverbs are supposed to make you think, and leave a bit of mystery to figure out.
Third, for this proverb, it should be noted that roll = book. When this proverb came about (about two thousand years ago) books were really rolls of bamboo slips strung together. The first bound books like the ones we use today did not come about until about a thousand years after this proverb when they invented paper in China.
開卷有益 is a great gift for a bookworm who loves to read and increase their knowledge. Or for any friend that is or wants to be well-read.
Some other translations of this phrase:
Opening a book is profitable
The benefits of education.
This quote from the Analects of Confucius translates as:
For anyone who brings even the smallest token of appreciation, I have yet to refuse instruction.
Another way to put it is: If a student (or potential student) shows just an ounce of interest, desire, or appreciation for the opportunity to learn, a teacher should offer a pound of knowledge.
This was written over 2500 years ago. The composition is in ancient Chinese grammar and phrasing. A modern Chinese person would need a background in Chinese literature to understand this without the aid of a reference.
This literally means, "when three people meet, one becomes the teacher".
This famous Chinese philosophy suggests that when people come together, they can always learn from each other.
One person must be the teacher and others learn. And in turn, the others become the teachers of the knowledge they posses.
It is important to remember that we all have something to teach, and we all have something to learn as well.
覺 can mean to feel; to figure out; thinking; awake; aware; bodhi; knowing; understanding; enlightenment; illumination; apprehend; perceive; realize.
覺 is a character that is impossible to define in a single word.
This term is often associated with Buddhism where it's understood to be: Illumination, enlightenment, or awakening in regard to the real in contrast to the seeming. However, it can also refer to enlightenment in regard to morality and evil.
In Japanese, this can be the personal name Satoru.
In certain context, and only when pronounced as "jiao" in Chinese, it can refer to a nap, sleep or the state of sleeping. However, as a single character on a wall scroll, everyone will read this with the awareness or enlightenment context.
By no means is this the only way to write enlightenment. In fact, you should only choose this character if you are looking more for a word meaning awareness.
This Chinese philosophy tells of how we continue to learn throughout our lives.
This proverb can be translated in a few ways such as "Study has no end", "Knowledge is infinite", "No end to learning", "There's always something new to study", or "You live and learn".
The deeper meaning: Even when we finish school we are still students of the world gaining more knowledge from our surroundings with each passing day.
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.
溫故知新 is a proverb from Confucius that is used in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cultures.
It can be translated several ways:
Coming up with new ideas based on things learned in the past.
Examine things of the past, and obtain the new knowledge.
Developing new ideas based on the study of the past.
Gain new insights through restudying old issues.
Understand the present by reviewing the past.
Learning from the past.
Review the old and know the new.
Taking a lesson from the past.
Taking a lesson from the wisdom of the ancients.
Follow the old ways.
The direct translation would be, "By asking old things know new things".
The Character meanings breakdown this way:
溫故 = ask old
知新 = know new
Explained: To learn new things that are outside of your experience, you can learn from old things of the past. You can find wisdom from history.
Note: Japanese use a variant of the first Kanji in modern times.
Therefore if you order this from a Japanese calligrapher, expect the first Kanji to look like 温 instead of 溫.
In addition to 温故知新 as mentioned above, this is sometimes written as 温古知新 in Japan.
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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|
|Wisdom||智||chi / tomo||zhì / zhi4 / zhi||chih|
|Perception of Knowledge||知識|
|chishiki||zhī shi / zhi1 shi / zhi shi / zhishi||chih shih / chihshih|
|Each Time You Stumble and Fall, You Gain Experience and Wisdom||吃一塹長一智|
|chī yí qiàn, zhǎng yí zhì|
chi1 yi2 qian4 zhang3 yi2 zhi4
chi yi qian zhang yi zhi
|ch`ih i ch`ien chang i chih
chih i chien chang i chih
|Wisdom comes from Experience||不經一事|
|bù jīng yī shì|
bu4 jing1 yi1 shi4
bu jing yi shi
|pu ching i shih
|The Five Tenets of Confucius||仁義禮智信|
|jin gi rei tomo nobu |
|rén yì lǐ zhì xìn|
ren2 yi4 li3 zhi4 xin4
ren yi li zhi xin
|jen i li chih hsin
|Wisdom||智慧||chie||zhì huì / zhi4 hui4 / zhi hui / zhihui||chih hui / chihhui|
|慧||e / kei||huì / hui4 / hui|
|Learn from Wisdom||見賢思齊|
|jiàn xián sī qí|
jian4 xian2 si1 qi2
jian xian si qi
|chien hsien ssu ch`i
chien hsien ssu chi
|Great Wisdom||般若||hannya||bō rě / bo1 re3 / bo re / bore||po je / poje|
|Door of Great Wisdom||大智慧門|
|dai chi e mon|
|dà zhì huì mén|
da4 zhi4 hui4 men2
da zhi hui men
|ta chih hui men
|Wisdom comes from Experience||不經一事不長一智|
|bù jīng yī shì bù zhǎng yī zhì|
bu4 jing1 yi1 shi4 bu4 zhang3 yi1 zhi4
bu jing yi shi bu zhang yi zhi
|pu ching i shih pu chang i chih
|智能 / 知能|
|chinou / chino||zhì néng / zhi4 neng2 / zhi neng / zhineng||chih neng / chihneng|
|An Open Book Benefits Your Mind||開卷有益|
|kāi juàn yǒu yì|
kai1 juan4 you3 yi4
kai juan you yi
|k`ai chüan yu i
kai chüan yu i
|Confucius: Universal Education||自行束脩以上吾未嘗無誨焉 (note 嘗 = 嚐)|
|zì xíng shù xiū yǐ shàng wú wèi cháng wú huì yān|
zi4 xing2 shu4 xiu1 yi3 shang4 wu2 wei4 chang2 wu2 hui4 yan1
zi xing shu xiu yi shang wu wei chang wu hui yan
|tzu hsing shu hsiu i shang wu wei ch`ang wu hui yen
tzu hsing shu hsiu i shang wu wei chang wu hui yen
|When Three People Gather, One Becomes a Teacher||三人行必有我師|
|sān rén xíng bì yǒu wǒ shī|
san1 ren2 xing2 bi4 you3 wo3 shi1
san ren xing bi you wo shi
|san jen hsing pi yu wo shih
|gaku / satoru||jué / jiào|
jue2 / jiao4
jue / jiao
|Learning is Eternal||學無止境|
|xué wú zhǐ jìng|
xue2 wu2 zhi3 jing4
xue wu zhi jing
|hsüeh wu chih ching
|明||mei / myou / mei / myo / mei / myo||míng / ming2 / ming|
|Learn New Ways From Old|
|on ko chi shin |
|wēn gù zhī xīn|
wen1 gu4 zhi1 xin1
wen gu zhi xin
|wen ku chih hsin
|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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Some people may refer to this entry as Knowledge is Wisdom Kanji, Knowledge is Wisdom Characters, Knowledge is Wisdom in Mandarin Chinese, Knowledge is Wisdom Characters, Knowledge is Wisdom in Chinese Writing, Knowledge is Wisdom in Japanese Writing, Knowledge is Wisdom in Asian Writing, Knowledge is Wisdom Ideograms, Chinese Knowledge is Wisdom symbols, Knowledge is Wisdom Hieroglyphics, Knowledge is Wisdom Glyphs, Knowledge is Wisdom in Chinese Letters, Knowledge is Wisdom Hanzi, Knowledge is Wisdom in Japanese Kanji, Knowledge is Wisdom Pictograms, Knowledge is Wisdom in the Chinese Written-Language, or Knowledge is Wisdom in the Japanese Written-Language.
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