A few days ago I came across a very inspiring image of the Han at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. Tassajara was founded by Suzuki Roshi, who I quoted in my last post. I find the inscription a great reminder of the preciousness of life and impermanence and immediately made it the desktop background of my laptop!
I had to look up what a “Han” is and here is what I found at about.com:
“A han is a wooden board struck by a mallet with a particular rhythm to announce the beginning of a zazen period in a Zen monastery. It is also sometimes struck before the monks retire for bed.
Often, a variation of this verse is engraved on the han:
Let me respectfully remind you,
Life and death are of supreme importance.
Time passes by swiftly and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken.
Awaken! Take heed, do not squander your life.”