Chinese written language is comprised of characters or symbols written with a brush and ink so as to express a concrete idea like an object; say a bird, hand or cloud. Such characters are called pictographic as the symbol represents the object. Other characters express abstract ideas these are called ideographic.
Each character is made up of strokes made with the brush. Each stroke can be used to form a symbol that represents an idea or an object. Strokes are combined to make other symbols. These symbols are combined to form more complex words or ideas.
Many calligraphic characters in the Chinese arts of philosophy, Qigong, and martial arts often carry very specific meanings that the author wished to convey. Over time these meanings, passing through many hands and interpretations, grow to take on ideas that may have never been intended for the original character, not to mention that also much misunderstanding can arise just from crossing the cultural barrier of Eastern to Western thought. Knowing the meaning and origins of characters can help us to understand the authors’ original intentions and provide a better link to its true meaning.
The Chinese Calligraphy for Spirit is pronounced Shen. Its literal definition is supernatural – magical – deity transcendental.
It should not be confused with another word that sounds very similar, Xin心 which means heart or emotional mind.
The first character (Shr) in this calligraphy is made up of 4 strokes. It carries the meaning of signs or omens. It can refer to something hidden. It is a picture of a wooden sign often used for ancestral tablets.
The second character (Shen) made up of 5 strokes it means to state a fact or inform it can also mean a field. Here field means a plane on which something takes place similar to a canvas on which something can be painted.
An experience of Shen can be a sign, experience or discovery of something that is beyond one’s normal understanding of everyday reality. Some call this a Noumenon phenomenon.