THE HEART OF KANJI: Accept and stand firmly


Ukete Tatsu. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

Ukete Tatsu. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

受けて (ukete) means “accept or receive,” and consists of three parts. The top part represents one’s hands and fingers, the middle part represents a boat and the bottom part represents one’s arms. When a boat brings us items or materials, we accept or receive them with our hands, fingers and arms.

立つ (tatsu) means “stand,” and is in the form of a person who stands firmly.

I’d like to share a story about the importance of accepting things and standing firmly. A father took his son to a river and said: “My son, look carefully at that big stone in the river. This stone will move toward the mountainside instead of moving toward the ocean.” His son replied, “I don’t believe you.”

The father answered, “You shall see.” They went home and then returned to the river six months later. The father said, “My son, look carefully at the same stone.” The son observed the big stone in the river and was surprised to see it had moved toward the mountain. His father explained, “When the streaming waters hit the big stone, the water flows down to the bottom of the stone and makes a hole. Eventually, the great stone falls into the hole and thus moves toward the mountainside as the process repeats.”

The strong stream represents toughness or difficulty in life, and the big stone represents a person who can look deep inside, accept toughness in life and is able to stand firmly. On the other hand, the strong stream of water pushes a small stone toward the ocean. Unlike the big stone, a small stone represents one who doesn’t have the capacity to look deep inside, who instead complains and can’t face toughness in life. The father said to the son, “You should be like the big stone in the river.” Do you consider yourself a big or small stone?

Recently, in facing a tough situation with my illness, I was initially a small stone. However, I remembered this story and tried to be a big stone. I tried to look within myself, face my situation, accept it, and then was able to overcome it. I learned how to accept anything in life with the guidance of Kami/God. If you can accept good or bad, good health or sickness, good luck or bad, youth or old age, life and death, you shall maintain peace of mind and stand firmly in life.

There have been many great spiritual leaders in the world, like Jesus, Buddha, the Konko founder, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., who accepted wholeheartedly their own problems, sins, meguri (a Konko term for the cycle of problems) or bad karma, as well as other people’s problems. They took full responsibility for them. They were big stones. Let us be big, rather than small, stones.

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 is the author of “An Eternal Journey.” He can be reached at or (415) 517-5563.

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