THE MASTER Kosen drew the words “The First Principle” which are
carved over the gate of the Oaku Temple in Kyoto. He drew them
with his brush on a sheet of paper later they were carved in wood.
A pupil of the master had mixed the ink for him, and stood by,
watching the master’s calligraphy. This pupil said, “Not so good!”
Kosen tried again. The pupil said: “That’s worse than the first
one!” and Kosen tried again.
After the sixty-fourth try, the ink was running low, and the pupil
went out to mix some more. Left alone, undistracted by any
critical eye watching him, Kosen made one more quick drawing with
the last of the ink. When the pupil returned, he took a good look
at this latest effort.
“A masterpiece!” he said.