19. The First Principle

    When one goes to O-Baku temple1 in Kyoto2 he sees carved over the gate the words, The First Principle. The letters are unusually large, and those who appreciate calligraphy always admire them as being a masterpiece. They were drawn by Ko-Sen3 two hundred years ago. When the master drew them he did so on paper from which workmen made the larger carving in wood. As Ko-Sen sketched the letters, a bold pupil was with him who had made several gallons of ink for the calligraphy, and who never failed to criticize his mater's work. "That is not good," he told Ko-Sen after the first effort. "How is that one?" "Poor. Worse than before," pronounced the pupil. Ko-Sen patiently wrote one sheet after another until eighty-four First Principles had accumulate, still without the approval of the pupil. Then, when the young man stepped outside for a few moments, Ko-Shen thought, "Now is my chance to escape his keen eye," and he wrote hurriedly, with a mind free from distraction, 'The First Principle.' "A masterpiece," announced the pupil.


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1. O-Baku Temple

2. Kyoto

3. Ko-Sen