2014: Joy of giving and receiving

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I’d like to talk about the joy of giving and receiving today. 受ける (ukeru) means “receiving,” which consists of three parts. The top lines represent the fingers of one’s hand, and below it represents a boat. The bottom line is one’s arm. When the boat brings back some items, one’s hands, fingers and arm receive them.

Ukeru, Ataeru Yorokobi. calligraphy by Rev. Masatao Kawahatsu
Ukeru, Ataeru Yorokobi. calligraphy by Rev. Masatao Kawahatsu

与える (ataeru) means “giving,” which represents a migratory bird. Migratory birds do not stay in the same place since they are either coming or going. Most things in our lives are coming and going — or we are giving or receiving.

喜び (yorokobi) means “joy,” which consists of two parts. The top lines represent musical instruments on a table and the bottom is an open mouth. As people play music, they open their mouth to express joyfulness.

I would like to share a true story about a man named Larry, who I read about in J Sports. In 1971, when he was 23 years old, his company went bankrupt. He lost his income and became almost homeless. He did not eat for a while and was very hungry.

Despite having no money, Larry went to a restaurant and ordered a lot of food. He knew he had to pay for the food, and grew afraid that he would be sent to jail. When the bill came, he said, “Sorry, I cannot pay.” However, a kind waiter named Ted approached him and gave him $20 instead of calling the police. Larry was so appreciative of this kind gesture that he changed his attitude in life. Whenever Larry earned some extra money from any job he found, he secretly began giving it away to poor people in town. For years, people knew that a mystery person was giving money away. Larry’s wife was the first person to find out. He was afraid she would be angry. However, his wife said, “You have done great things to many people, and I will support you. Let us save as much as possible to give to the poor.” They continued their generous giving until the end of their lives. They gave away an estimated $1.5 million. Larry wrote, “I had done this not just for others but for myself too because it made me feel great. I truly learned the joy of giving and receiving.”

I was impressed by this story, and had a warm feeling in my heart. When we receive gifts from others, we feel good. Yet, if we give to others, we feel good about ourselves. There are many good people who have lived in this world. However, only a few remain in people’s hearts — like the Konko founder. Kami asked the Konko founder to become a mediator between Kami and his people. Yet, the Konko founder had a large family to support. The Konko founder still decided to stop farming, and gave away his rice field, to become Kami’s mediator until the last day of his physical life. He gave not only his own life. but essentially his family’s lives to Kami and everyone.

One day, while a student at Konko seminary school, I was thinking about the best way to live a satisfying life. If I gave material things to others, I’d be satisfied. But if I help the hearts and souls of others, it would be the best thing to do in life and I’d be most satisfied. I decided to become a Konko minister. I believe I made the best decision in my life.

Let us not only enjoy receiving from others, but let us enjoy giving to others. Since I don’t have money to give like Larry, I’d like to share some reminders in calligraphy, like “Arigatou gozaimasu 1,000 times a day” or “Waga kokoro (Harmonious and joyful heart)” with millions of people in the world. I am sure that all of you can also give something to others. Each of us has some kind of skill to share with others.

If you would like a reminder of “Arigatou gozaimasu 1,000 times a day” or “Waga kokoro” in calligraphy let me know.

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 and is the author of “An Eternal Journey.” He can be reached at konkosf2@sbcglobal.net or (415) 517-5563. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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