永 (ei or nagai) means “eternal or long.” This character consists of two parts. The top forms a single drop of rain; the bottom represents water in a river. A single drop of rain flows into the waters of a river and continues on its path forever.
遠 (en or tooii) means “far.” This character consists of two parts. The right side is a person who is holding the long paper of a letter. The left side takes the shape of a road. So there’s a person who is holding a long paper to carry to faraway distances.
安 (an) means “peace.” This character consists of two parts. The top is a house roof and the bottom represents a woman. So the woman is safely staying in the house.
心 (shin or kokoro) means “heart.”
Recently, I asked a question of an elderly person. “Are you happy?” I asked. He replied, “Yes, I am happy because I have a healthy body. I have enough money to live on, and I have my own house to stay in.” I said, “I see. But are you a happy person? Since our life is not guaranteed for the next day or even the next moment, you may become ill, have an accident, have difficult problems and even die. Can you maintain peace of mind under any situation in your life?”
He said, “Oh, not really. No. I’m not ready for problems in life. And I especially can’t accept death yet.” He’s about 84 years old and goes to church every Sunday. He never misses it. Yet he still is not ready to handle problems in his life.
Many people can obtain temporary peace of mind. Yet they struggle to gain eternal happiness or peace of mind. We should now and always maintain eternal happiness or peace of mind. How can we obtain peace of mind?
First, we should have a strong wish or desire to have eternal happiness. If our hope is weak, it will be impossible to obtain.
Next, we should think how we can obtain peace of mind.
Finally, we should take the necessary action to achieve peace of mind.
When I was 20, I realized I could not obtain the peace of mind to last an eternity. I was greatly shocked by this knowledge. Then I started to have a strong wish to obtain peace of mind and thought about it all the time. I soon took action and began my spiritual training continuously from that day onward.
I believe it took me over 30 years to accomplish eternal happiness. And I also try to maintain eternal peace of mind now. I hope all of you will maintain your eternal peace of mind throughout the new year of 2011.
Rev. Masato Kawahatsu is a minister at the Konko Church of San Francisco and Konko Center of South San Francisco, who teaches shodo (Japanese calligraphy) and martial arts. He also gives spiritual counseling. He can be reached at email@example.com or (415) 517-5563.