THE HEART OF KANJI: Prayer and leaving it to Kami/Universe

This is the fourth rule for a harmonious relationship.

Inori to omakase
calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

祈 り (ki, inori) means “prayer.” The left side represents an offering on a table for Kami, and the right side indicates an axe. After hunting animals with the axe, you can offer the animal to Kami on the altar.

任 す(nin, makasu) means “leave up.” The left side indicates a person and the right side indicates a piece of wood and a long string. This means that you trust or leave your faith up to a person or to Kami.

We often experience complicated relationships. At the time, you may think that having a good relationship will be impossible because of all the struggles you are experiencing.

You might feel that there is nowhere for you to turn and no right decisions to make. In Japanese, there is a saying, “Hapou fusagari,” which means you are stuck between two walls and all the exits are blocked. When you have to decide to stay or to leave, you may feel powerless, but have to remember that you can pray and leave the situation up to Kami.

In Japan, there is a place deep in the mountains meant to train the strength of your spirituality. Pilgrims arrived at a narrow bridge between two high mountains that created a deep valley below. If you fell from the bridge, it would be impossible to survive. Many failed or turned back, fearing the unknown and not trusting themselves. One day, a young man arrived and crossed the bridge easily, there and back. Everyone was shocked and asked how he did it with no fear or worry. He replied that by relying on Kami and trusting that Kami would take care of him, he was able to accomplish this task. The other pilgrims realized that they had been only attempting to rely on their own power instead of Kami.

When I was in my 30s, my former wife and our three children left me and went back to her hometown. I was shocked, sad, angry and felt lots of hopelessness. I realized that I must put my trust and faith in Kami to help me through this. I prayed continuously through the night and received a message, “What you are experiencing now is just a small problem compared to the large problems of the world.”

I was able to feel some peace and move forward through this time in my life with the strength of Kami helping me. I hope that you can remember this when you are experiencing difficulties in your life as well.

People think that people pray because they are weak. I don’t think so.  As we experience the most difficult time in our life, we need to pray and leave it up to Kami/Buddha or the Universe. I am sure that you will find a way of overcoming from any hardships.

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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