Calligraphy by Shinzan Roshi – Hen Chu Sho



Japanese: Hen chu sho
English translation: Unity of relative and absolute
Box: Wooden with card sleeve
Scroll dimensions: 160x45cm

This phrase represents one of the five degrees of enlightenment as established by the Chinese Zen master, Tung-shan Liang-chieh (807-869, Jp. Tozan Ryokai). Each level reflects an increasing depth of enlightenment. “Hen chu sho” (the second stage), literally represents “sho” (the absolute) in the midst of “hen” (the relative), the point at which the ideal of non-distinction emerges and the illusions of diversity and multiplicity recede. Here the character, “”chu” (middle), is positioned between the other two characters, its strong vertical stroke linking the characters compositionally.

The final level of Tozan’s Five Ranks. Tozan’s verse reads:

Who can match one who does not fall into being or non-being?
All human beings hope to escape from the ceaseless the flow of samsara
But ultimately you must sit in the midst of this world’s dust.

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