THE HEART OF KANJI: Your heart is just like a mirror. When you get angry, your mirror becomes cloudy


Haratate ba kokoro no kagami ga kumoru. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

腹 (Hara) means “belly.” The left side represents a piece of meat and the right side represents our internal organs.

立 (Tate) means “stand.” This word represents a person standing.

心 (Kokoro) means “heart.” This word represents the human heart.

鏡 (Kagami) means “mirror.” The left side indicates gold found in a mountain quarry and the right side indicates a person’s voice echoing. So the golden light is shining like a mirror.

Haratate ba kokoro no kagami ga kumoru. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

A human heart may change under different conditions and experiences. Our original heart is pure like a clear mirror, but the Konko founder said that our hearts can “become clouded with emotions such as anger, frustration, or sadness.”

Scientists have discovered that negative emotions can have a powerful effect on our physical bodies and make us sick. Being “hot-headed” is a popular phrase for a reason; we often act as if our thoughts and emotions are on fire when we are extremely upset, and may choose to do things impulsively rather than thoughtfully.

In contrast, those who are thoughtful and mindful are considered “cool or chill” because they do not rush or say things without thinking. They sit and take their time, maybe even practicing meditation or deep breathing as part of their daily lives. I have learned that we should try to breathe through our noses more than our mouths, as we have filters that help to clean the air before it reaches our lungs.
This fresh air helps to keep our brain full of oxygen so we can think clearly and calmly. Like animals, when we are stressed, we breathe shallowly and quickly, and it raises our heartbeat so that we become worried or anxious. You can learn to break this

habit by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth slowly and calmly. This will send signals to your brain that you are in a safe environment and that you can take the time you need to say or act carefully.

The Konko founder said, “You are very patient, but you are only suppressing your anger. This will damage your spirits. What you are doing is not enough. You must go a step further by not getting angry at all. It will be like medicine for your body.”

I used to get angry easily. Once, I was accused of stealing money; I was so upset and insulted. However, someone told me that the Konko founder had gone through a similar situation. Rather than getting upset, he was able to deal with the situation calmly.

Knowing that the Konko founder dealt with it in this way, I was able to calm my anger and practice seeing the situation in the way the Konko founder would.
Someone once asked a priest, “Let me see Kami!” The priest gave him a box. When the person opened the box and looked inside, there was a mirror. The priest said, “Kami is the mirror of your heart.” In a Shinto shrine, there is a mirror. In a Konko altar, this is replaced with the “Tenchi Kakitsuke” or “Divine Reminder” prayer. In this prayer it says, “Divine blessings begin within a harmonious and joyful heart.”

We have access to Kami at all times since Kami is within all of us. We often use mirrors only to focus on the negative aspects of our physical selves and try to change or fix these “problems.”

Have you ever tried to use your spiritual mirror to look at your heart and see how it can be positively adjusted? Rather than worrying about our physical imperfections, let us see how we can focus within and work to clear away the cloudiness of anger, envy, or frustration of our internal mirrors so that they shine brightly with golden light.

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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