The First Principle

Master Kosen was asked to write the Chinese character "Daiichigi," meaning "The First Principle," so that it could be carved into wood and hung on the huge gate of Obaku Temple. His disciple prepared a large quantity of black ink. Kosen wrote carefully. The disciple, usually not critical, said, "That is not good." Kosen tried again. "How is that?" he asked. "Poor." Kosen tried again. "Worse than before," the disciple said. Kosen wrote, one after another, eighty-four "The First Principles," still without his disciple's approval. Then the young man had to step outside for a moment, and Kosen thinking this was the chance to escape his pupil's gaze, hurriedly wrote "The First Principle." The young man returned almost immediately, saw the character, and said, "Ah, a masterpiece."

Beauty is naturalness. Selflessness is the essence of natural art. Flying over China, one can look down and see the broad, long Yangtze River. The blue river is banded on both sides by dark green vegetation, which, as it grows father from the river's edge, becomes lighter green, then yellow-green, then yellow, until it diffuses into a barely perceptible hue. This is nature's large brush painting.


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