THE HEART OF KANJI: Haku to kanau: Putting out positive thoughts to fulfill wishes


Haku to Kanau. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu
Haku to Kanau. calligraphy by
Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

吐く (haku) means to “throw out or speak out.” The left side of the kanji character represents a mouth. The characters on the right represent a plus or minus sign. So haku means to throw out both good or bad things or to speak good or bad words. If you simply change the second character in this kanji, it transforms into 叶う(kanau), which means “fulfill or to speak out positively about something.”

Many of us have both positive and negative thoughts and feelings that we put out into the world on a daily basis. Have you ever considered the power of simply presenting positive thoughts and actions? This change in perspective can alter the energies that you attract and can help bring more positivity and fulfillment into your life. When things are going well, this may seem easy, but when sad or terrible events occur, that is when you truly need to try to see the situation positively.

When I was 40, I went home to Japan to visit my second eldest brother. After a good visit with him, I went to stay with my eldest brother. A day later, I learned that my second eldest brother had just died suddenly in a terrible car accident.

I wanted to curse the universe and the other driver and had many negative thoughts and emotions immediately following the news. Many negative thoughts and words came out of my mouth and heart for about 10-15 minutes. However, the training I had received at seminary school and the lessons I had learned from my parents allowed me to switch my thoughts to positivity even in that difficult time. I began to chant “arigatou gozaimasu,” thanking Kami and my brother for 47 years of wonderful life and experiences.

When I was 53 years old and heard that my mother had passed, I was remorseful, but able to immediately express appreciation for her full life and all that she had accomplished.

It is easy to get carried away with feeling “haku,” or both positive and negative feelings. However, practicing “kanau” will help you to cope with many situations you encounter.

When you send out positive thoughts and actions, they help you to heal when times are bad and feel even more appreciative when things are going smoothly. I hope that you can find a life of fulfillment through practicing positivity.

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). He can be reached at or (415) 517-5563.

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