Makoto (Truth). calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

Makoto (Truth). calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu
Makoto (Truth). calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

真 (makoto, shin, ma) means truth. This kanji character is in the form of a person who is upside down, which indicates that the person is dead. The truth is that all of us will die someday. Like the saying goes, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

When we pass on, only one eternal truth will remain: You can’t take your possessions with you. Any material things, like money, your big house or property, clothes and jewelry will remain behind. You also can’t take your job, titles, family members, friends or boyfriend or girlfriend with you. We must go to the next world by ourselves. This is the unmistakable truth and reality. However, we all have a difficult time accepting this because of our strong attachment to our friends and family, and especially our material possessions. Many of us struggle to let go emotionally and spiritually from all of them when we die. I hope we can learn to detach from our possessions and keep only the truth of life in our heart and souls at the end. John Lennon once sang, “Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can.”

One Japanese medical doctor conducted interviews with his patients who were terminally ill. The doctor was astonished to discover how many of them often came to an understanding about what is most important to accomplish or gain during their lifetime within an hour before they died. They said it is not something tangible or concrete, but something intangible and spiritual: It is inner spiritual peace or happiness. Many have regrets and say how they would have lived differently if they had known the truth.

It is my hope and prayer that we all can find this truth much earlier in life, and not just one hour before we leave this earth. Let us learn to cherish our God-given lives and friendships and obtain an understanding how inner spiritual peace or happiness is more important to attach to our souls than all the material and tangible things we have acquired — so when we’re gone, our spirit will keep the one holy truth forever more. Imagining life without possessions and concentrating on spirituality now, is the one truth.

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 or (415) 517-5563. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

One response to “THE HEART OF KANJI: Truth”

  1. Haley Hagemeier Avatar
    Haley Hagemeier

    I was wondering, how would someone write “Eternal Truth” in Kanji?

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