Sensei – not only in martial arts meaning but also… read more below.
Words happen to be used with incorrect meanings, misunderstandings and simply wrong. Yes, we use them, but when we learn their very precise meanings they often change into something absolutely new.
One of those words that I have on mind is SENSEI (先生), commonly translated as teacher. And that is not a wrong interpretation. But sensei consists two signs.. what do they hide within them? The answer comes just in signs.
Sen (先) means priority, future.
In its other readings it reads:
saki – peak, end, full stop (dot), point,
mazu – first,
Sei (生) stands for life, birth, production and growth. And it is a very „full” sign with many meanings.
sho – life,
ikiru – to live, to exist,
ikasu – to give life, to breathe, to establish the existence of something/someone,
ikeru – to arrange flowers,
umareru – to be born,
umu – to give birth,
haeru – to grow, to appear,
hayasu – to grow, to plant, to breed,
ki – clean,
nama – fresh, inexperienced,
namanamashii – fresh, green,
From that group of meanings we can easily conclude the meaning of sensei: „someone who was born before me” Someone, who was brought to life and has reached the peak.
Who do we entitle with sensei then? In our civilization sensei – teacher is a profession. In eastern culture it means much more than just a title. It describes a person who stepped into a certain path and now we take from his/her experience. It is someone who has legs.. but it will come in moments.
Sensei is used for school teacher, dojo mentor, medical doctor, lawyer, pharmacist or master of ceremony. We can even use it when speaking of an old man passing by on a street because he or she has possessed some knowledge that is unknown to us. Now let us look at the sign..
Let me start with 生.
Imagine the lowest bar as beginning, ground, earth. From that moment up our life goes through different points (transverse bars). The short oblique bar on the left shows the continuity of our personal growth.
Time for 先.
The upper part is already known to us – it is shortened version of SEI. Its lower part is legs, very imaging, isn’t it? It show me that my life is already speeding, I have legs so I run and on my field I am ahead of others.
With many thanks to all „born before”.