THE HEART OF KANJI: How to maintain a good heart at all times

Tsuneni yoki kokoro ni naru. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

常 (Tsune) means “always.” This character’s top lines indicate the roof of a house, a window and steam coming out of the vents of the house. The bottom lines indicate a person who is wearing an apron. Together, this character shows a person cooking with a calm heart.

良 (Yoki) means “good.” This character represents a Japanese measure box that is similar to a measuring cup.

心 (Kokoro) means “heart.” This character represents the shape of our human heart.

Being grateful is easy when things are going well. However, when we are faced with challenges, it is more difficult to see the “bright side.” In the same way, it is hard to be consistent with maintaining a good heart. When we are happy and things in our lives are going smoothly, it is easier to do the right thing, but facing tough situations sometimes makes us question what is “right” or “wrong” because our emotions may be swept up in the moment.

A Konko member once told the Founder, “If someone comes to me with a bad heart, I often feel that my heart also becomes bad.” The Konko Founder replied, “You should still maintain a good heart.” What is a good heart? We tend to have negative feelings of selfishness or angry emotions when we look at a situation with a bad heart. As humans, we are also inherently biased and blinded by our own feelings and opinions and may have trouble seeing situations objectively.

A good heart tries to be all encompassing. It tries to see the situation from every angle and from everyone’s point of view. A good heart is patient, humble, and compassionate. Kami has a heart like this. If we try to see the world with Kami’s pure heart, we can perhaps approach a challenging experience with a different view point and expect a different outcome.

Awhile ago, I found an interesting article in the Konko Japanese newspaper. Rumi Takai lives in Japan with her husband who is African American. She could not stand the racial discrimination that he endured. She told him about her frustrations and he responded, “All African Americans have gone through this racial discrimination. Ninety-nine percent of us endure it and show our kindness and try to respond to the world with a good heart. Therefore, our community has flourished. However, one percent of us do not have a heart of patience and participate in the violent activities that many people look down on us and stereotype us. Yet, I believe we must maintain a gentle manner no matter what.”

Mrs. Takai was shocked at her husband’s answer and thought deeply on this idea. I think Mrs. Takai’s husband had a good heart like that of Kami. Without this, he would struggle to handle such harsh discrimination.

When I was younger, I would get very angry every time someone criticized me. However, as I got older and had more life experiences and spoke with others about how they dealt with their feelings, I practiced mediation and thought about seeing the world as how Kami sees it. I then saw how small and narrow my mind and heart were. I was looking at the situation through the small hole of a needle rather than the broad eye of Kami and the heart of the Universe. I hope you can visualize this and try to expand your heart and vision to approach your life with more kindness, thoughtfulness and patience.

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 konkosf2@sbcglobal.net or (415) 517-5563. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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