danfantsutsaWritten in calligraphy (shufa):

淡飯粗茶有真味,明窗淨几是安居 (traditional Chinese)

淡饭粗茶有真味,明窗净几是安居 (simplified Chinese)

Dàn fàn cūchá yǒu zhēn wèi, míng chuāng jìng jī shì ānjū

-Light meals simple tea has authentic taste

-Clear bright windows, clean coffee table makes a peaceful home

During the holiday season as the presents pile up under the tree (if we’re lucky) and the streets light up with glitz and glam, so do some of the stresses.  Does your family that can’t live with or without each other get together and fight?  Who’s going to make Christmas ham, decorate the tree, choose presents for your 3rd cousin, and do it all with a big smile?

This couplet speaks of the simplicity of not being picky about meals or living a life of excess.  Many religions actually reference fasting in the path to seeking enlightenment.  Sometimes the contrast of the simplest meals reminds us of the abundance we enjoy from on demand food flown in from all corners of the world.

The clean coffee (or tea) table denotes an uncluttered household, uncomplicated by material things.  If these basic principles can be appreciated, then finding joy becomes easier.

During the Ming Dynasty there was a scholar who worked very hard to care for his family.  Not only did he tutor during the day, but he worked the fields to ensure his family had food and clothes.  Every night he said thankful prayers for his good fortune.

His son exclaimed: “I see you slaving away in the fields, gritting your teeth as the sweat comes pouring down your face.  After a full day’s of work is over, you then tutor students until past midnight.  How could this be good fortune? “

His father said: “I celebrate living in a peaceful world, without war.  I celebrate living in a household where every family member has enough to eat, clothes to wear, and shelter from the cold.  I also celebrate that we do not have illness in the family and no one has committed any crimes.  This is the simplest form of luck!”

The style of writing or Chinese calligraphy font is 楷書(楷书)standard script (KǎiShū).   2 lines make up a Chinese couplet 聯語(联语) lián yǔ, which is pair of phrases that typically complement each other in meaning and have a similar sentence structure/number of words.  These may be placed on either side of a door frame or pillars.

Original attribution for the couplet has unfortunately been lost, but the motto carries on.

Peace comes from simple meals and a simple home.



Background Photo credit Helen Yang


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