THE HEART OF KANJI: We tend to believe we are always right


Watakushi ga tadashii to omoigachi. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

私 (Watakushi) means “I or me.” The left side of this represents a rice plant and the right side represents arms. The rice plant is held in a person’s arms.

正 (Tadashii) means “right.” The top line indicates the goal and the lines below indicate a foot, showing you walking toward the goal.

思 (Omoi) means “thoughts.” The top part represents a brain and the section below represents a heart. So people believe things using their head or their heart.

Watakushi ga tadashii to omoigachi. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

Our natural inclination is to believe that our opinion is the right one. Our perception of the world is limited to our own eyes, ears, thoughts and feelings.

We may be able to see our face in the mirror, but how can we see our heart or mind? How can we objectively view our own actions?

I would like to share a story that touches on these ideas.

Once upon a time, there were two neighboring families — one fought all the time and the other was peaceful.

The husband from the family that always fought went to seek the advice of the peaceful family. The wife of the peaceful family said, “I think that we all try to never assume that we are correct or right.”

The man asked, “Why does this make a difference?”

Right then, the husband of the peaceful family returned home and accidentally knocked over a bucket of water, spilling its contents across the floor.

Right away, the husband said, “I’m sorry! I should have been paying more attention.” The wife replied, “I’m sorry I put the bucket there!” The husband of the fighting family witnessed this and was shocked. He said, “If this had happened in my home, I would have immediately blamed my wife and gotten angry! My wife would have said it was my fault for not being more careful.” He saw that their responses to the same situation could create either peace or disagreement.

Recently, I lost something and asked my wife about it. She said she didn’t know where it was, but I didn’t believe her. I thought that she had moved it and forgotten about where she had placed it. I didn’t express my frustration out loud, but I blamed her in my mind. I soon realized that I should just continue to look for it instead of being upset. So, I prayed to Kami peacefully and asked Kami, “Can you help me find what I have lost?”

Guess where I found it? In the garbage can outside the house! I expressed my appreciation to Kami and apologized to my wife in my heart for blaming her for a short time. It is so easy to blame others for things that happen, but rather than getting upset or frustrated, we can change how we react by asking Kami to help us fix whatever issue we are facing.

Please remember, “The divine favor comes from a harmonious and joyful heart.” We look in the mirror to check that our hair and face is presentable. In the same way, we should check on our heart and see whether we are practicing having a harmonious and joyful heart at all times.

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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