THE HEART OF KANJI: Human virtue, educational virtue and divine virtue


Jin Toku, Gaku Toku, Shin Toku. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

Jin Toku, Gaku Toku, Shin Toku. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

“In order to be a useful person in the world, one should strive to attain human virtue, educational virtue and divine virtue. — Konko founder

人 (Jin) means “human.” This character symbolizes two people supporting each other. When we support each other, we receive “human virtue.”

学 (Gaku) means “education,” which consists of two parts. The top portion is a school building and below is the symbol for a child. The student goes to school to receive “educational virtue.”

神 (Shin or Kami) means “God,” which consists of two parts. The left side is a divine altar and the right side is the symbolic shape of lightning. This character translates how God can create powerful energy in nature, for example, through lightning.

徳 (Toku) means “virtue,” which consists of four parts. The left side of the character represents the road one travels. The number 10 is on the top right side. The symbols for eyes and heart are below the number 10. When the above three characters are used together with Toku, they represent “human, educational and divine virtue.” This character means many people will trust and respect this leader, who has many positive qualities. This is “virtue.”

June is graduation month. I made calligraphy artworks of these characters, jin toku, gaku toku and shin toku, and framed them and gave them as presents to some graduates and teachers.

Our son graduated from high school this year and decided to go to Syracuse University in New York. My wife and I will miss him so much. I remembered when I left Japan; I probably felt the same as my parents did 41 years ago. They, too, must have missed me and might have had concerns about my future.

I have survived in this great country for 41 years. I have had some near death experiences, but I overcame them with divine virtue.

I think that both human and educational virtues are very important, but divine virtue is the most important to find true peace in life. I told my son to accumulate these three virtues, but to remember the most important virtue, shin toku.

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. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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