THE HEART OF KANJI: Live in the moment, live in the now

今 (Ima) means “now.” The top lines of this character represent a gathering of people and the bottom line symbolizes the continuation of this gathering.

一 (Ichi) means “one.” This character indicates one finger.

瞬 (Shun) means “a moment.” The left side of this character represents an eye. The top left side represents flames and the strokes below represent two legs. The fire burns quickly like a person running quickly with two legs.

Ima no Isshun wo Ikiru. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

生 (Ikiru) means “live or life.” The bottom portion of this character represents soil and the top lines represent a sprout or new life.

People often spend their life in three ways. Some live in the past, some live in the present and some live in the future. How do you live your life?

Those who live in the past often experience feelings of regret and fear and have a hard time taking steps or actions to move forward. It is good to evaluate our past actions, but with the perspective that we will use these lessons to help improve ourselves for our present and our future. Those who live in the future often experience feelings of anxiety and worry over what may come to pass. Although it is good to prepare for the future, it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen. Seeing into the future with a perspective of hope, excitement and curiosity will help us live life with less fear or worry.

When Chihiro Yamada was 20 years old he fell from a train platform onto the tracks. He lost one arm and two legs. The evening this accident happened, he had worked long hours and was coming home late. He ended up in a coma in the hospital for 10 days after the accident. When he woke up, rather than being grateful for his life, he felt completely hopeless for the future and was in denial that anything positive could come from this.

As the days passed, Yamada became incredibly depressed and wanted to die. While he recovered, his best friend visited him in the hospital. At first, Yamada was embarrassed and didn’t want his friend to see him. However, his friend greeted him as he always did and they discussed their normal conversation topics. When his friend left, Yamada was in much better spirits.

Yamada recovered enough to leave the hospital, but he wallowed in his desire to have a “normal life” with a “normal job” like before. Unfortunately, he was unable to find any opportunities that were similar to the position he had before and his depression and suicidal thoughts returned. Thankfully, his older brother called. Yamada discussed his feelings of inadequacy and anxiety toward his future with tears in his eyes. His brother’s response shocked him. Rather than sharing words of comfort, his older brother shouted through the phone, “Why are you always thinking about yourself! How about you think about others for once?” These harsh words were the tough love he needed to snap back to reality.

Yamada reflected on this and realized that he should be thankful that he had received another chance to live. He could waste this opportunity on worrying and feeling sorry for himself, or he could use it as a lesson. He could think of new and different ways he could help his community and family.

Yamada was fitted with prosthetic limbs to wear and eventually found a job that he could do despite his disabilities. He put on his suit every morning and waited for the train just like he did before. But now, he smiled everywhere he went. He also began to give lectures on his experience in the hope that it would inspire others who had their own misfortunes or setbacks.

I know that many of you are still facing the difficult consequences of COVID-19 and it is difficult to maintain a peaceful mind and heart. There are two Konko teachings you can meditate on if you feel your struggles are overwhelming: “If you worry about your future too much, it is like turning down Kami’s divine blessings.”

“Let us live every day and each moment with wholehearted appreciation.”

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 News.

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