THE HEART OF KANJI: Look Forward to the Future


Look forward to the future.
Looking forward to the future. Calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

先 (Saki) means “front” or “future,” and consists of two parts. The upper section represents the sole of someone’s foot. The character below represents a pair of legs walking. Thus, together they represent “front” or “future.”

楽 (Tanoshime, Raku) which means “enjoy” or “look forward to,” is made up of two parts, as well. The upper character represents musical instruments, while the one below represents wood. Together, this character shows people playing instruments and enjoying music.

We often worry about our future, especially when bad things occur. During these difficult times, people may be unable to sleep or concentrate on their work, while others may get sick. Why do we worry? We worry when we fear that we will be unable to handle, control, or deal with the situation ourselves. The Konko Founder said, “Just because you will be eating shiyokara (very salty fish guts) tomorrow, you shouldn’t wait and drink water today. Don’t worry needlessly.”

We know that anxiety is not good for us, but we still experience it. It is impossible to live without worry, but there are some ways to overcome it.

A Japanese person, who had a lot of problems and was worried about his future, decided to go to Europe in order to forget about his problems. When he arrived, it was Christmas and it was freezing. All the hotels were closed and he could not find a place to stay. Just as he began to lose all hope, an elderly lady happened to walk by.

She stopped and asked, “Are you OK? You seem to be worried about something.”

After he explained his situation to her, she invited him to her house where she fixed a warm meal for him.

As they were eating, she told him, “There is ‘good luck’ and ‘bad luck,’ so say ‘Thank you’ and  ‘I appreciate’ when facing difficult problems, rather than complaining or worrying.” She told him that this would allow him to have a more positive outlook on the difficulty and perhaps bring better luck and circumstances his way. If you use negative words, you will invite bad luck into your life.

When he returned to Japan, he attempted to practice saying “Thank you” and “I appreciate” in his everyday life. Strange and amazing things began to occur. One day, his car was hit by another vehicle. Rather than getting angry and worrying, he said, “Arigato gozaimasu.” He was able to speak peacefully with the other driver and soon became good friends with her and her family. The man was given an opportunity to give lectures about his experience and was even asked to write a book. His success led to the selling of three million copies of his book.

Recently, I had problems and I began to worry about them. While I was praying early in the morning, I received a message: “Look forward to the future.” This message helped me to focus on the positive aspects of my life instead of the negative ones.
Rather than worrying during difficult times, we should rely on Kami to help us by praying. We must also say “Thank you,” “I appreciate” or “Look forward to the future.” This allows us to realize all the blessings that we do receive. By practicing these things, we can all hope to live more positively and peacefully.

Rev. Masato Kawahatsu is the head minister of Konko Center in South San Francisco. He teaches martial arts and Japanese calligraphy and counseling. He can be reached at (415) 517-5563 or

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