Something for the weekend – 151A: A moral from Japan

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151A: How can these 4 characters make a moral? Let me explain.

For those of you who don’t know, the number one is pronounced ‘ichi’ in Japanese. Five is ‘go’. And ‘A’, well, ‘A’ is ‘A’. (In the Japanese phonetic alphabet, this becomes equivalent to ‘E’.) So, if you read this back, you have ‘ichi-go-ichi-e’. Quite literally, this means, ‘one opportunity, one encounter.’ So what does it really mean?

The idea is derived from Zen Buddhism. Each meeting and encounter we have is by chance and cannot be repeated; the present is transient. Therefore, we must treat it with care and try our best at each moment and in each of these encounters. Within Zen Buddhism, this idea often focuses on tea ceremony. However, it can certainly have wider applications.

I learned of this famous Japanese saying whilst on a research trip to Japan and it really stuck with me. I was meeting lots of different people, having lots of new and exciting experiences and with ‘151A’ in the back of my mind, I believe they were all the better for it!

Please remember ‘151A’ and live each moment to the fullest. Give it your all as you only have the present. And surely, treating the present like this will reap future rewards!


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