One Drop of Water
一滴水 ittekisui


One day, a monk named Giboku was on bath house duty at Sōgen-ji Temple. He brought buckets of water back and forth from the well to get the temperature of the bath just right. When the hot bath was sufficiently cooled, Giboku shook out the remaining drops of water from the bucket onto the ground, thinking them useless. 

The Head Monk, Gisan Zenrai Zenji saw this from the bath and reproached Giboku: 

“What did you just do?” 

“I went to draw some water.” 

“Before you drew the water, what did you do?”

“I threw away some old water,” Giboku answered simply.

“If you do training with a mind like that, no matter how much training you do or how long you train, you will not awaken. That bit of remaining water, if you dump it out there, how can it be used? If you take it outside and put it on some plants, the plants will be given life and the water will also be given life. If you give it to the cucumbers in the garden, the cucumbers will be helped and the water will be satisfied too!”


It is the work of one who is ordained to give life to everything, but that cannot be done with such a lack of mindfulness. These words made a deep impression on Giboku. He realised how little he understood and that something as simple as a single drop of water had taught him a great lesson.


- by Ueda Sōkei 宗冏 16th Grandmaster of the Ueda Sōko Tradition of Japanese Tea Ceremony

- Calligraphy and translation by Adam Sōmu Wojciński

- Ichimonji border of the calligraphy: Hino Kantō 日野間道