THE HEART OF KANJI: Universal arrangement

天地 (Tenchi) means “Heaven and Earth.” The first character’s top line represents the sky and the line below represents a large person. The second character’s left side represents land and the right side represents a snake.

繰り合 (Kuriawase) means “arrangement.” The first character’s left side represents a string. The top lines of the right side symbolizes three birds, and the lines below represent a tree. The top lines of the second character represent a gathering of people and the lines below represent a mouth. Together, a group of people have gathered to talk with one another.

Throughout our lifetime, we experience a broad spectrum of experiences. When beneficial things happen to us, we call it good luck and often feel very grateful. When we experience struggle or hardship, it is difficult to express our appreciation and sometimes we even blame Kami/God or Buddha.

Many religions and philosophies consider the concept of fate and in the Konko faith we call it “divine arrangement.” Though fate can have positive or negative connotations, divine arrangement definitely takes a positive perspective.

During challenging times, emotions such as grief, worry, fear and regret come to the surface. Could you consider such a challenging situation one of divine arrangement? How would shifting your perspective in this way alter the feelings you have about the difficulties you are facing?

When I was still living in Japan as a young man, I had a serious illness. For the first months, as I lay in bed, I felt helpless and hopeless. Through my meditation and study of faith, I shifted my perspective of my illness and it allowed me to step closer to inner peace.

When I first arrived in the U.S., there were many difficult situations that initially made me regret moving. However, through my faith and mentorship from other ministers and friends, I realized that there was a solution. Rather than being negative about these experiences, I could share them with others and discuss beneficial ways of dealing with such hardships. Since that realization, I have lived here without regret. December of 2021 marked 50 years of my time in the U.S.

I now consider all my life experiences to be moments of divine arrangement. Many things happen, good and bad, so that we can be where we are needed most and learn the things that we need to grow and evolve. If we approach all situations in this manner, I feel that inner peace and happiness will be attainable. Rather than looking at an experience solely through our own heart and mind, we can practice seeing it from all angles and detach our emotional connections to it. We can reflect on our past and see how something that seemed negative in the moment was actually a necessary step to help or prepare us for a better, future experience.

A couple of years ago, someone told me, “Thank you sensei for staying in the U.S., because I wouldn’t have met you otherwise and you wouldn’t have been able to help me.” Even if my whole life and its hardships led to that one moment, I felt fulfilled knowing that I had accomplished my goal of helping someone.

Are there challenges in your past that you can now consider Divine Arrangement? How can we work to apply this perspective to current situations so that we lessen our feelings of anxiety, fear, or discomfort?

Let me know your thoughts!

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 News.

Speak Your Mind