When one goes to Obaku temple in Kyoto 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 mastepiece. They
were drawn by Kosen two hundred years ago.
When the master drew them he did so on paper, from which the workmen
made the large carving in wood. As Kosen sketched the letters a bold
pupil was with him who had made several gallons of ink for the calligraphy
and who never failed to criticise his master's work.
"That is not good," he told Kosen after his first effort.
"How is this one?"
"Poor. Worse than before," pronounced the pupil.
Kosen patiently wrote one sheet after another until eighty-four First
Principles had accumulated, still without the approval of the pupil.
Then when the young man stepped outside for a few moments, Kosen
thought: "Now this is my chance to escape his keen eye," and he wrote
hurriedly, with a mind free from distraction: "The First Principle."
"A masterpiece," pronounced the pupil.