We came to this life to laugh

Warau tameni umareta. calligraphy by Rev. Masato Kawahatsu

笑 (Warau) means “laugh or laughter.” The top lines of this character represents bamboo and the lines below represent a person who is laughing.

為 (Tame) means “for.” This character represents a hand and an elephant, like how a person uses their hands to direct and lead a big elephant.

生 (Umareru or ikiru). This character represents soil and new sprouts.

One of life’s greatest questions is, “What is our life purpose?” Do you have an answer to this question? Even if you have an answer, do your actions reflect your thoughts?

I would like to share a story about a girl who received an aggressive cancer diagnosis. She was a good student and active at both her high school and at home. She was shocked when she heard the news and became quiet and sad with her friends and family. She was suffering and unsure how to deal with this information.

She asked her parents, “Why was I born if I am to die so young?” Her parents could not answer this question. At school, she asked her friends and teachers. They were also unable to answer this question, except for one teacher. Mr. B had a unique personality. Many unusual things happened to his students during the semester and he always had a strange and interesting solution for them.

When the girl asked him the question, he paused for a long moment, then said, “We are here to laugh!” A silent classroom and blank faces followed his response. The girl was speechless at first, then quietly said,

“That is something I no longer can do.” Mr. B quickly responded, “So then you will be silent and sad and suffer for the rest of the time you have on this Earth?”

The young girl thought deeply about the conversation when she returned home. The next day, she tried to practice laughing a little. Everyday, through the rest of her brief life, she laughed and smiled no matter what, bringing a bit of joy to her situation.

Do you think you would be able to laugh and smile if you received that diagnosis? Do you think you can do it even if you live until 80 or older? A Buddhist monk famously said before he died, “I don’t want to die!”

Though one would think that he would be able to be at peace with death, it is common for us to all want to cling to life. Let us practice laughing and smiling now so we can approach every challenge and every minute of life with compassion, humor, and lightness.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *