Appreciating whatever comes our way

Nanigoto ga attemo orei. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

何事 (Nanigoto) means “whatever.” The first character’s left side represents a person and the right side represents carrying something. The second character’s bottom lines represent a hand and the top lines represent a fortune teller’s cup. The fortune teller predicts many fortunes using this cup.

礼 (Rei) means “bow.” The left side indicates an altar and the right side symbolizes a person bowing.

Nanigoto ga attemo orei. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

We suffer in many different ways during our lifetime and it is impossible to live with no suffering at all. If you had a strong and healthy childhood, it is still possible to experience suffering in your old age and vice versa. You may experience suffering that is physical, mental or emotional. Some people have a powerful, healthy body, however, may at times struggle to maintain their friendships or relationships with others. There are others that are kind and have a community of support, but have poor health.

As you face the hardships in your life, do you struggle to find happiness or the positive aspects of your situation or do you only focus on the challenges and difficulties?

There are many ways to deal with hardship — you could try to run away and avoid your problems or you could face them head on and try to overcome them. It is also possible to spend your whole life feeling sad about your situation or doing the opposite, finding happiness and gratitude in the things that are going well and learning what you can from any challenges you face.
Believe it or not, there are even people that seek more hardship. Maintaining this kind of mentality is very tough, but if you expect your life to be harder than it is, you can be truly grateful that the issues you actually face are milder than they could have been.

I would like to share Takeko Shimizu’s story with you. Her husband became seriously ill and the doctor told them the illness was fatal. They were both so shocked and headed to the Konko headquarters to mediate with Konko-sama, the head minister of the Konko faith.

She said, “Konko-sama, my husband cannot eat any food. He can only drink water. Please save his life.” Konko-sama replied, “I know that this is an extremely tough situation, but before you give up hope, please offer your thanks to Kami-sama/God that he can still drink water, he can still breathe, and that he has a supportive team of doctors and nurses at the hospital looking out for him.”

Many people ask Kami for help, but they forget to give thanks for the things they already have. When you pray to Kami, you practice giving thanks first. Imagine going to your friends house and trying to greet them without first opening the door. This would be very awkward! Giving thanks first is like opening the door so that Kami can hear your requests.

Mrs. Shimizu began to practice appreciation and gratitude and was able to find that even in the toughest situations, there were things one could be thankful for. Her husband passed away peacefully soon after, but because of their gratitude practice, they were able to accept this with a calm mind and spirit.

When you are facing a difficult time or even when things seem to be going along just fine with no great accomplishments or no great suffering, please practice expressing your appreciation to your body, mind, spirit, friends, family, and community. I know that you will find many things to be thankful for and perhaps this will help you have a steadfast and peaceful perspective when hardships do come your way.

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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