THE HEART OF KANJI: Our heart is invisible but has great value


Mienai kokoro no kachi. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

見 (Me) means “to see or look.” This character represents the human eye. 

心 (Kokoro) means “heart,” and looks like an anatomical human heart. 

価値 (Kachi) means ”value.”

Mienai kokoro no kachi. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

The left side of the first character represents a person and the right side represents treasures in a box. The right side of the second character represents 10 people and a human eye, symbolizing 10 peoples’ eyes watching something carefully.

According to the Japanese, we are currently in the era of “tsuchi,” which translates to soil or material value, but that will soon change to “kaze” or wind in English, or an invisible power of spiritual value.

Things of material value can be categorized as status, the college you went to, the company you work for, or how much money you have. I believe that our current system of government, education and community is focused on prioritizing more material value for all. Most of society believes that these factors will equate to happiness. However, as we see this shift toward increased technology and reliance on economy and status, there seems to be an increase in dissatisfaction, competition and loneliness. How can we gain true happiness within despite the changes that may occur over our lifetime with our finances or social status?

There is an old Japanese saying, “Sajyo no rokaku.” This translates to, “If you build a beautiful castle on sand, it will collapse.” The challenges we have faced since last year have shown us that there are cracks in our system that need to be re-evaluated. 

I believe that if we focus our efforts on how to improve ourselves beyond our material possessions and status, true happiness can be attained. Practices such as martial arts, spirituality, gratitude, meditation or prayer, volunteerism and taking care of our environment are ways we can foster our pure connection to one another and the universe.

A Japanese spiritual leader named Kaori Arima asked Kami, “How did the coronavirus begin?”

She said that Kami responded, “As humans we will get a great opportunity to change yourself and the world situation for the better.” The world is a place that is ever changing and sometimes those changes are harsh. This is a reminder for us to reassess how we take care of each other and the world.

As the many scientists of the world work hard to find a cure, and the nurses, doctors, and hospital workers help to save lives, we also have a task at hand. As individuals, we can take this time to think about how we interact with the world and what takes precedence and value in our day to day life. Do we care more about material possessions or about being a kind and grateful person, spiritual peace and happiness? This time, we have a great chance to find our invisible spiritual power. It is just like the invisible power of “Kaze” wind.

I would like to hear from you about how your life and perspective has changed since the pandemic last year. Please write to me and let me know!

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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