Priest Sengai was a famous calligrapher and one of the congregation asked him if he would write a scroll of four or six Chinese characters to hang in his house – something auspicious for the family.
Sengai agreed and said, “I will write some words of blessing.”
He took a new brush and inscribed six Chinese characters in a magnificent gold ink:
The parents die,
The children die,
The grandchildren die
The recipient was bewildered and after some hesitation murmured that everybody dying was not exactly a blessing.
Sangai said: “Everybody dies, but the blessing here is the order in which they die. If the children die before the parents the father and mother will be in grief for the rest of their lives. Again if the grandchildren die before the others then who will carry on the line. The family will become extinct.
But if the parents die before the children they die happy because they see the young ones grow up to maturity. And similarly, if they live to see their grandchildren alive and well they know that they have fulfilled their role in the world and that the line will continue. They die in peace and what can be a greater blessing than that in this world?”