THE HEART OF KANJI: Life of flower


Hana no Inochi. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

花 (Hana) means “flower.” The top indicates a plant. The left side below the plant indicates a person, and the right side indicates the person who is upside down in the ground, meaning death. A flower begins as a plant, blooms as a flower, and then it eventually dies.

命 (Inochi) means “life.” The top indicates a person and below the top is the number one. Below the left side indicates a mouth,  and the right side is a person who is bending down. And so, a person is attacked or beaten by another person. This represents the fact that a person’s heart is always beating in order to maintain their life.

Do you know that each heart beats about 100,000 times a day in order to maintain that person’s life?

The kanji character for the flower shows us not only the beauty of the flower, but also the process of life and death. There’s a poem that says, “The flowers of a plant are very happy when they bloom and they don’t regret when each flower, eventually, falls to the ground.”

I hope we can be like the flower.

Hiroshi Yamanaka was a mental health adviser for the top athletes on Japan’s Olympic team. At the age of 55, he was told he had cancer and only had a few months to live. He had lived a life based on scientific and logical thinking. Facing death with extreme fear, he had great difficulty separating himself from his physical world of family, friends, fame, and possessions. But he  began to think more about spirituality and what it meant to him. He began spiritual practices and soon found spiritual healing power within himself and within the universe. As an athletic trainer, he understood the direct link between releasing his physical tension to connect with his spiritual self for peace of mind.

He created an exercise method of releasing tension to welcome calmness and peace into his life.

As he practiced, he was able to experience the great spiritual power of the universe. Slowly, he accepted and overcame his fear of death and calmed his troubled mind. Although he lived six more years with cancer, he lived those years without struggle and fear. He thanked the universe for allowing him to find spiritual fulfillment because of his cancer. It helped him face his fear of death and allowed him enough time to find peace of mind. He became just like the “life of the flower,” which accepts in everything the great works of God in heaven above and our lives on Earth below.

If you want to know an exercise for releasing your tension, please contact me.

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

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