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佛 is the essence of the Buddha or Buddhism.
Depending on context, this word and character can be used to refer to the religion and lifestyle of Buddhism, or in some cases, the Buddha himself.
It is interesting to note that this word is separate from all others in the Chinese language. The sound of "fo" has only this meaning. 佛 is in contrast to many sounds in the Chinese language which can have one of four tones, and more than 20 possible characters and meanings. This language anomaly shows just how significant Buddhism has affected China since the ancient times.
More about Buddhism
佛 is also used with the same meaning in Korean Hanja.
It's used in the very religious context of Buddhism in Japan. It should be noted that there are two forms of this Kanji in use in Japan - this is the more formal/ancient version but it's rarely seen outside of religious artwork, and may not be recognized by all Japanese people.
It also acts as a suffix or first syllable for many Buddhist-related words in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
See our Buddhism & Zen page
仏 is the single Japanese Kanji can mean Buddha or Buddhism.
This Kanji was actually a shorthand way to write 佛 (Buddha) in Chinese (popular around the 13th century). Somehow, this became the version of this Chinese character that was absorbed into Japanese, and thus became part of standard Kanji. Centuries later, this character is not recognized in Chinese at all (except by those from China with a background in Chinese literature or language).
仏 is also a rare or derivative Korean Hanja form - but I doubt you will find any Korean that knows that.
佛心 means the mind of Buddha or the spiritually enlightened heart.
The Buddha Heart is one that is detached from good and evil and other such constructs. The Buddha Heart has mercy, compassion, and loving-kindness for all sentient life, the good, the wicked, and all in between.
The heart and mind (心) are the same concept in the ancient Orient, so you can use heart and mind interchangeably in this context.
This title can mean the Buddha of the Western paradise. But it's more a chant that means, "May the lord Buddha preserve us!" or "Merciful Buddha!."
阿彌陀佛 is also a translation to Chinese, Japanese, and Korean for, "Amitâbha Buddha."
Asian Buddhists will often greet and say goodbye to each other with this phrase/chant/title.
釋迦牟尼 is a transliteration of "Shakyamuni" or "Sakyamuni" in Chinese, Japanese, and old Korean.
The perceived meaning of the name is roughly translated as, "Sage of the Sakyas."
This same Buddha is also known as "Siddhartha Gautama," "Gotama Buddha," "Tathagata," or simply, "The Supreme Buddha."
釋迦牟尼 is the legendary man and prince who eventually established the Buddhist religion.
Note: Occasionally Romanized as "Siddhattha Gotama."
This combination of characters is sometimes seen and used in South Korea and Japan as well (with the same meaning).
Note: 釋迦牟尼 came from the Sanskrit शाक्यमुनि and can also be romanized with diuretics as Śākyamuni.
This is how to express "The Compassionate Amitabha Buddha" (especially for the Pure Land Buddhist Sect).
Some will translate as, "Homage to Amitâbha Buddha" or "I seek refuge in the Amitâbha Buddha."
This is valid in Chinese characters Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
Sometimes modern Japanese use a different version of the 4th and last Kanji but the version shown here is the most universal.
This is used to pay homage to Amitabha Buddha.
釈迦 is the way to write Shakyamuni in Japanese.
It's just two Kanji, the first is a simplified version of the one used in Chinese for Shakyamuni, and the second one is identical to the Chinese.
This refers to the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama, 563 BCE-483 BCE) also known as Sakyamuni and Gautama Buddha.
This has very good meaning in Japanese but is an odd selection for a wall scroll. It appears here more for reference.
The eye of Buddha, the enlightened one who sees all and is omniscient.
In modern Japan, they also write the first Kanji as shown to the right. Both versions are correct but if you want the modern Japanese version, click on the Kanji to the right instead of the button above.
南無釋迦牟尼佛 is a Buddhist chant or prayer of respect to the Shakyamuni Buddha.
Some will translate this as the Buddhist vow.
The first two characters, 南無, are sometimes translated as "amen"; others will translate it as, "believe in," or "homage to."
To expand on this, 南無 can also mean, "taking of refuge in," while also representing devotion or conviction. 南無 as with most religious concepts or words, different people or denominations will have varying definitions.
仏教 can mean Buddha or Buddhism in Japanese.
Depending on context, this word can be used to refer to the religion and lifestyle of Buddhism, or in some cases, the Buddha himself.
Note: Until the 5th century, Japan did not have a written language. At that time, Japan absorbed Chinese characters to form their written language (these characters are known as "Kanji" in Japanese). The first character of this Buddhism title was actually a shorthand way to write 佛 (Buddha) in Chinese (popular around the 13th century). Somehow, this became the version of this character that was absorbed into Japanese, and thus became part of standard Kanji. Centuries later, this character is not recognized in Chinese at all.
仏 is also a rare form of Buddha Korean Hanja - though seldom used even when the Korean Hanja writing system was more common 100 years ago.
佛教 is the more exact way to express the religion or lifestyle of Buddhism.
It can also be read as "Buddha's Teachings." 佛教 is Chinese only, as a different character is more commonly used in Japanese to express Buddhism. The same first character is used in Korea but a slight variation exists in the second character in Korean Hanja. However, it would be fully recognized by any Korean person who can read Hanja.
達摩 is the Chinese and Japanese title for Dharma (a short name for Bodhidharma).
He's known in Chinese as Damo, and in Japanese as Daruma.
Note: In Japanese, they tend to write the last character as versus . If you choose the Japanese master calligrapher, expect it to be written in the Japanese version.
菩薩 is the title of a deity in Buddhism that exists to help you reach enlightenment.
In Buddhist beliefs, a bodhisattva (bodhisatta) is a being who is dedicated to helping us achieve enlightenment. Bodhisattva literally means enlightenment truth which is bodhi sattva in Sanskrit.
This term is sometimes used to refer to a kindhearted person, one who will sacrifice himself/herself for others, and lacks ego or desire but is instead devoted to the good and well-being of others.
See Also: Namo Amitabha
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 and 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 tree on the end, please see our other entry.
This can be defined as "The Law of Buddha," "The Power of Buddha," or simply "Dharma."
In Taoist and Buddhist context, this means to "Walk in the Way." In Buddhism, that further means to follow the Buddha truth. In some Buddhist sects, this can mean to make a procession around a statue of the Buddha (always with the right shoulder towards the Buddha).
Outside of that context, this can mean route (when going somewhere), the way to get somewhere, etc.
In Japanese, this can be the surname or given name Yukimichi.
This is the modern Japanese version of "Namu Amida Butsu" or "The Compassionate Amitabha Buddha."
Some will translate this as, "I sincerely believe in Amitabha; Lord have mercy on me."
This phrase especially applies to Japanese Pure Land Buddhists.
There is a more universal version using ancient characters (with more strokes) for the 4th and last characters. That version is also used in Chinese, Korean, and occasionally Vietnamese. This is used to pay homage to Amitabha Buddha.
The Buddha ordered that all should know this triple truth...
A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.
This is the English translation most commonly used for this Japanese Buddhist phrase. You might have seen this on a coffee cup or tee-shirt.
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
觀音 / 観音 is the Buddhist deity known as the Goddess of Mercy or Bodhisattva of Compassion.
In Chinese, the proper name of this being is Guan Yin. There is some debate as to whether Guan Yin is female. The argument comes from some scripture that suggests Buddhist deities take on the male form. Others say that Guan Yin has no sex. And still others are okay with the female representation of Guan Yin.
This bodhisattva is also known or Romanized in the following ways:
Mandarin Chinese: Guan Yin, Kuan Yin, Kwan Yin.
Japanese: Kannon, Kwannon.
Sanskrit: Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.
Vietnamese: Quan Âm.
Thai: Kuan Eim.
English: Bodhisattva of Mercy and Salvation, Goddess of Compassion, Buddha of Mercy, et al.
Note: The first character has a slight variation in Japanese. If your audience is specifically Japanese, you may want to select that version.
法 is the simple way to write "law" or in a Buddhist context "Dharma."
This can also mean method, way or Buddhist teaching. It's also an abbreviation for the country of France.
The Buddhist context exists in Chinese and Korean Hanja but I have not yet confirmed that this means more than "law" when used alone in Japanese.
業 is the simplest way to express the idea of Karma. 業 is the Buddhist concept of actions committed in a former life affecting the present and future.
Out of the context of Buddhism, this Karma character means one's profession in life, trade, occupation, business, study, or career.
The Karma definition applies to both Chinese and Japanese for this character. This also works as Korean Hanja as Karma; although the meaning can vary depending on context (my Korean dictionary gives the definition of profession/occupation).
See Also: Buddhism
In Buddhist context, this is a Zen question for meditation.
From the Buddhist dictionary this is:
Problems set by Zen masters, upon which thought is concentrated as a means to attain inner unity and illumination.
The secular meaning of this word can mean a judge's desk, complex legal case, contentious issue, a dossier, case record, public laws, regulations, or case-law.
Besides the title above, 慈悲 can also be defined as clemency or lenience and sometimes the act of giving charity.
In Buddhist context, it can be defined as, "benevolence," "loving kindness and compassion," or "mercy and compassion."
This Buddhist virtue is perhaps the most important to employ in your life. All sentient beings that you encounter should be given your loving kindness. And trust me, however much you can give, it comes back. Make your life and the world a better place!
This Chinese/Japanese Buddhist term is the equivalent of Metta Karuna from Pali or Maitri Karuna from Sanskrit.
慈 can mean loving-kindness by itself.
悲 adds a component of sorrow, empathy, compassion, and sympathy for others.
See Also: Benevolence
Known in the west as "Shin Buddhism," this is a school of Japanese "Pure Land Buddhism." This form is also known as "True Pure Land Buddhism" or "Jodoshinshu" (jōdoshinshū).
If you are looking for this title, you probably already know the rest of the story.
See Also: Pure Land Buddhism
因緣 is the Buddhist concept of a chance meeting or an opportunity that presents itself by fate.
Sometimes this is used to describe a cosmic chain of events or cause and effect.
It also is used to describe predestined relationships between people - and sometimes married couples (although if you want one about marriage, try this: Fate / Destiny of Lovers.
因緣 can also be translated as origin, karma, destiny, affinity, connection, and relation. This all depends on context - seen alone on a wall scroll, this will be read with a "fate / chance" meaning by a Chinese person, or a Korean person who can read Hanja.
The more complex definition of this word would be, "Direct causes and indirect conditions, which underlie the actions of all things."
This concept is known as nidana in the original Sanskrit. Also sometimes presented as hetupratyaya (or "hetu and prataya") which I believe is Pali.
Note: Japanese will tend to use this version of the second Kanji:
If you order this from the Japanese master calligrapher, expect that you'll get this version. However, this word often carries a negative connotation in Japanese (bad things happen), as it is used that way in a certain Japanese idiom. Therefore, this may not be the best choice if Japanese is your target language.
僧侶 / 僧侶 is a Japanese title for a Buddhist monk.
The first Kanji means Buddhist priest or monk by itself.
The second Kanji means follower or companion.
Note, if you order this from the Japanese master calligrapher, the first character will look a bit more like the Kanji shown to the right than the Kanji shown above. Let us know if you have a preference, as both versions are technically-correct in both Chinese and Japanese.
地水火風 is a Buddhist term that means "earth, water, fire, wind."
地水火風 is often just referred to as "the four elements." There is a more common title (the five elements) which adds wood to the mix. These four elements are used in some sects of Japanese Buddhism (not so much in Chinese).
According to Soothill 眞空妙有 means:
The true void is the mysteriously existing; truly void, or immaterial, yet transcendentally existing.
眞空妙有 is the state of being absolutely nonexistent after removing all errant worldly influences. 眞空妙有 is achieved when all forms of existence is seen for their real nature.
This is a complex Buddhist concept. Feel free to add to the conversation about this concept here: Asian Forum: Shinku Myou
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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|
|佛||hotoke||fó / fo2 / fo|
|仏 / 佛|
|hotoke / butsu|
Mind of Buddha
|佛心||busshin / bushin||fú xīn / fu2 xin1 / fu xin / fuxin||fu hsin / fuhsin|
|The Aura of Buddha||佛光||bukkou / buko||fó guāng / fo2 guang1 / fo guang / foguang||fo kuang / fokuang|
|ē mí tuó fó|
e1 mi2 tuo2 fo2
e mi tuo fo
|o mi t`o fo
o mi to fo
|sha ka mu ni|
|shì jiā móu ní|
shi4 jia1 mou2 ni2
shi jia mou ni
|shih chia mou ni
|Namo Amitabha Buddha||南無阿彌陀佛|
|namu amida butsu|
|nā mó ē mí tuó fó|
na1 mo2 e1 mi2 tuo2 fo2
na mo e mi tuo fo
|na mo o mi t`o fo
na mo o mi to fo
|釈迦||sha ka / shaka||shì jiā / shi4 jia1 / shi jia / shijia||shih chia / shihchia|
|The Eye of the Buddha||佛眼|
佛眼 / 仏眼
|butsugen / butsugen||wǔ yǎn / wu3 yan3 / wu yan / wuyan||wu yen / wuyen|
|kan gi kou butsu|
kan gi ko butsu
|huān xǐ guāng fó|
huan1 xi3 guang1 fo2
huan xi guang fo
|huan hsi kuang fo
|Buddha Seeking||勤求||gongu||qín qiú / qin2 qiu2 / qin qiu / qinqiu||ch`in ch`iu / chinchiu / chin chiu|
|Namo Shakyamuni Buddha||南無釋迦牟尼佛|
|namu shakamuni butsu|
|nán wú shì jiā móu ní fó|
nan2 wu2 shi4 jia1 mou2 ni2 fo2
nan wu shi jia mou ni fo
|nan wu shih chia mou ni fo
|jitsu dou / jitsudou / jitsu do / jitsudo||shí dào / shi2 dao4 / shi dao / shidao||shih tao / shihtao|
|Kensho Jyobutsu - Enlightenment - Path to Buddha||見性成佛|
|ken shou jyo butsu|
ken sho jyo butsu
|Buddhism||仏教||bukkyou / bukyo|
|Buddhism||佛教||fó jiào / fo2 jiao4 / fo jiao / fojiao||fo chiao / fochiao|
|達摩 / 達磨|
达摩 / 达磨
|daru ma / daruma||dá mó / da2 mo2 / da mo / damo||ta mo / tamo|
|bosatsu||pú sà / pu2 sa4 / pu sa / pusa||p`u sa / pusa / pu sa|
|Bodhi - Awakening Enlightenment||菩提||bodai||pú tí / pu2 ti2 / pu ti / puti||p`u t`i / puti / pu ti|
|佛法||fó fǎ / fo2 fa3 / fo fa / fofa|
|Walk in the Way||行道||yukimichi||xíng dào / xing2 dao4 / xing dao / xingdao||hsing tao / hsingtao|
|Namu Amida Butsu||南無阿弥陀仏||namu amida butsu|
|Triple Truth of Japanese Buddhism||人間性を再生するのは寛容な心親切な言葉奉仕と思いやりの精神||ningensei o saisei suruno wa kanyou na kokoro shinsetsu na kotoba houshi to omoi yari no seishin|
ningensei o saisei suruno wa kanyo na kokoro shinsetsu na kotoba hoshi to omoi yari no seishin
|Goddess of Mercy and Compassion||觀音 / 観音|
|kan non / kannon||guān yīn / guan1 yin1 / guan yin / guanyin||kuan yin / kuanyin|
|法||hou / ho||fǎ / fa3 / fa|
|gou / go||yè / ye4 / ye||yeh|
|Koan||公案||kouan / koan||gōng àn / gong1 an4 / gong an / gongan||kung an / kungan|
Buddhist Loving Kindness
|慈悲||ji hi / jihi||cí bēi / ci2 bei1 / ci bei / cibei||tz`u pei / tzupei / tzu pei|
|Shin Buddhism||浄土真宗||jou do shin shuu|
jo do shin shu
因缘 / 因縁
|in nen / innen||yīn yuán / yin1 yuan2 / yin yuan / yinyuan||yin yüan / yinyüan|
|Buddhist Monk||僧侶 / 僧侶|
|sou ryo / souryo / so ryo / soryo|
|dì shuǐ huǒ fēng|
di4 shui3 huo3 feng1
di shui huo feng
|ti shui huo feng
|True Emptiness Yields Transcendent Existence||眞空妙有||shin kuu myou u|
shin ku myo u
|zhēn kōng miào yǒu|
zhen1 kong1 miao4 you3
zhen kong miao you
|chen k`ung miao yu
chen kung miao yu
|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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