Ichi-go Ichi-e

- Once In A Lifetime, Never Again -

Written by Sensei Jon Davis

19 April 2024

How would you live each day if you knew it was your last? Would you cherish each conversation, each interaction? Would you try your best to experience life completely?


"Ichi-go Ichi-e" is a term that translates to "one encounter, one opportunity" or "once in a lifetime, never again." It originates from the traditional tea ceremony culture of Japan but brings wonderful implications to our philosophy of living life.


The present moment is the only moment that genuinely exists. Ichi-go Ichi-e emphasizes the importance of treasuring each moment and acknowledging each meeting or experience as a singular event and that every second is alive and moving - it doesn't stand still, and it doesn't last. Because each moment will never be repicated the exact same way again, we should treat it as precious.

This concept teaches mindfulness, reminding us to be fully present and engaged in whatever we're doing or whoever we're interacting with at any given moment. By focusing on the past or the future, it takes away from our ability to fully appreciate the present. The past cannot be changed, no matter how hard we try. Worrying about the future can cause us to live through an event twice - first in our imagination, and then in reality.


"Ichi-go Ichi-e" can also be said at the end of an interaction with someone else. By saying this short phrase to another, you're acknowledging how special and unique the encounter was - never to be replicated in exactly the same way. 


In practice, this concept invites us to approach every interaction with sincerity, respect, and gratitude - as if it were a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It promotes cherishing connections, fostering deeper relationships, and finding joy in the fleeting nature of life.

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