THE HEART OF KANJI: Your own happiness


Jibun no Koufuku. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

This is the third rule for a harmonious relationship.

自 (ji) means “own.” This indicates a nose. When Japanese people introduce themselves to other people, they point to their own nose.

分 (bun) means “divide into two.” The bottom lines of this character are a knife and the top means to cut one thing into two parts.

幸 (kou) means “happiness.” The top lines represent how a person is suffering and the bottom lines represent the character changing from unhappiness to happiness.

福 (fuku) means “richness.” The left side indicates an alter of Kami/God and the right side indicates a warehouse where there are many good things inside. Kami gives you blessings and happiness in your life.

The majority of people wish for happiness; not many people wish for unhappiness. In fact, though we want to have happiness and put a lot of effort toward it, happiness is very difficult to obtain. Before you get married, you may be wishing or expecting that a husband or wife will give you happiness. However, you may be disappointed because happiness may not happen.

I would like to share these words for a couple who will soon be married:

“I hope that both of you understand how this wedding is for the other person’s happiness, but not your own. I hope both of you will make sure to understand this today. If you can, I am sure your marriage life will be successful.” If both parties make sure to follow-up on this promise and support each other, they will overcome any obstacles of their marriage life. This is not only for marriage couples, but for all relationships.

I’d like to share with you a story of both heaven and hell.

“A person visited hell and he learned how many people were suffering despite the many delicious foods on a big dining table. They tried to eat them but could not eat because they had to use long chopsticks. They could pick the food up with the long chopsticks, but all the food would drop in front of their mouths.

The person then visited heaven. People were very happy even though the same conditions of hell existed. They tried to eat the food on the table, but in heaven they were able to eat food using the long chopsticks. How did they do it? They simply shared by using the long chopsticks to feed the food to the people who were sitting on the opposite side of the table. So they fed each other.” This story both sounds funny and it is not realistic.

However, we are all like these people who are in heaven or hell each day.

I’ve been acting the same way people in hell behaved. It’s very tough to act like the people in heaven. Therefore, I pray to Kami/God every day to help others obtain happiness. If all people in the world can do this, all of them will be in heaven on earth.

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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