THE HEART OF KANJI: Spiritual Investment


心の出資  (Kokoro no Shushi) means “spiritual investment.” Kokoro (心) means “heart,” and its character is in the shape of a human heart. Shu or deru (出) means “go out or come out,” and its character is in the shape of a human foot. Shi (資) means “funds,” and its character consists of two parts; the top part represents a person yawning because he does not have enough air, and the bottom part represents a shell, which was used as money many years ago.

This summer I took a group to Japan for two weeks. Right after returning to San Francisco on Aug. 9, I left for Hawai‘i with my family and fellow church members the very next day to attend a joint conference of Konko Missions of Hawai‘i and Konko Church of North America held on Oahu, Hawai‘i.

I attended the first joint conference 30 years ago in Hawai‘i. Since then the joint conference has been held every five years either in Hawai‘i or on the Mainland. I used to work at the Konko Mission of Waipahu for seven years. On this trip we visited three churches on Oahu. We also visited the Bishop Museum in Honolulu and learned the history of Hawai‘i. My wife, Alice, who has been learning hula dancing in San Francisco’s Japantown, was very interested in Hawaiian history.

The joint conference was held for three days at a YMCA camp on Oahu by a beautiful beach. Approximately 125 people attended. The theme was “Spiritual investment.” There were two main speakers. One was a Japanese-speaking minister from Japan and the other was an English-speaking minister from Hawai‘i. Both of them talked about spiritual investment.

Kokoro no shushi – Calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

I thought about the meaning of spiritual investment during the conference. In general, we invest in material things like money or property, but are not familiar with spiritual investment. Many people wish to invest in money or property in order to make more money or property. The majority of people believe if they make more money, they will be happier. I read an interesting article in the newspaper about the relationship between money and happiness. The survey results in this article were that people who earn about $70,000 each year are happy while people who earn lower or higher than $70,000 are unhappy. Also, many Americans are most afraid about going broke, while people in other countries — mainly poorer countries — are less afraid of going broke. My income is much lower than $70,000 but I believe I am happy because I have been putting my efforts toward spiritual investment rather than material investment.

When I was young, I realized that I would not be happy if I became materially rich. In order to become happy, I had to invest in my spirit and earn spiritual assets (toku) for myself and for future generations. How can we make our spiritual investment and accumulate spiritual assets?

I will try to show you five examples as follows:

1. To appreciate everything and to say “Thank you” or “arigatou gozaimasu” 1,000 times a day.

2. To laugh more — and smile often.

3. To pray for other people’s happiness, not just for yourself.

4. To perform good actions for others and for society.

5. To go to church often and practice faith.

I am sure that you will be a much happier person if you follow these five examples in your life, whether your income is more or less than $70,000. I would like to explain more about the five spiritual investments as follows:

If you appreciate everything — either good or bad situations in your life — and express arigatou gozaimasu many times a day, you will feel much happier, because the words “thank you” or “arigatou gozaimasu” give you power to overcome problems and suffering in your life.

If you laugh more and smile often, your unhappiness will be eliminated. As you know, when a baby laughs more, the baby is happy; however, when she or he grows up, she or he laughs less and is not happy.

The Konko Founder said that “If you pray for other people’s happiness, Kami-sama/God will help you solve your own problems and give you happiness.”

If you perform good actions for your family and for society, if you build a peaceful family and society, you will be blessed with a peaceful family and a peaceful world. If your family is unhappy, you will be unhappy.

A minister said that “The divine favor is dependent upon your foot,” which means that if you can go to church by foot and show your face, Kami-sama recognizes your efforts and gives you divine blessings.

In order to earn material assets and to obtain material happiness, you must work hard. In the same way we must work hard to earn spiritual assets or happiness through spiritual investment.

Rev. Masato Kawahatsu is a minister of Konko Church of San Francisco and the head of the Konko Center in South San Francisco. He teaches calligraphy and martial arts and gives spiritual counseling. He may be reached by phone at (415) 517-5563 or via e-mail at

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