Saturday, February 3 2007

“No thanks, I’m good.”

I’m stumbling through a shodou class again, slowly learning to use my right hand to write kanji.

[Last time I spent an entire quarter producing a credible 友, this time it’s 和. I didn’t forget everything I learned in the spring, and I’d even practiced a bit, so I’ve already worked through the strokes for the left side, and next week I’ll start trying to add a nicely balanced right side to it.]

Two weeks ago, sensei was discussing nice-looking characters and compounds that some of the advanced students might want to attempt, and one of her examples was a Zen Buddhist saying commonly found at temples (Google image search will turn up lots of examples). It looks something like this:

吾唯足知 = Ware tada taru wo shiru

This is four characters, not five; the box in the center is shared by the ones around the edges, making the phrase 吾唯足知, or われただたるをしる, which can be loosely translated as “I’m content with what I have”. It’s pretty straightforward, as Zen sayings go, expressing an acceptance of the world as it is, and a lack of desire to acquire more material goods.

So where did this come from?

Ware tada shouchuu

This was one of the first things I found when I typed those four kanji into Google. It’s a bottle of shouchuu, a distilled spirit that can be made from rice, barley, potato, brown sugar, etc.

Apparently one bottle is all you’ll ever need. And you can buy it online.