‘Intentions’ used Within Kanji to ‘Express’ 

For those of you who would like to understand the direction the Japanese look at the ‘intention’ of the meaning of certain words, we need to start to understand the Kanji’s ‘expressive components’ in detail.

Take a look at Chusei Kokoro, for example. Did you know there are two references within the full Kanji ‘Chusei Kokoro’ that reflect the meaning of mind & spirit, hence compounding the expression of ‘spiritual direction’, etc?

Let’s look at the Kanji.

Chusei Kokoro is made up of three Kanji (Chu-Sei-Kokoro) 忠 誠 心. If we take the first Kanji Chu 忠, which is made up of the individual Kanji, ‘Chu’ 中 and ‘Shin’ 心 (忠), suggesting the ’middle of the soul/heart’, we can clearly see the two separate Kanji ‘Chu’ (middle) and ‘Shin’ (if we’re looking at the bottom of the two halves of the Chu Kanji 忠 and remove the top half of ‘Chu’ we are left with the ‘Shin’ Kanji 心).

Shin in itself refers to mind, mindful, spirit, etc. If we look at the Kanji for Kokoro (as pronounced in Kunyomi, Japanese reading) 心 it also has the Kanji ‘Shin’ (as pronounced in Onyomi, Chinese reading). So, the ‘expression’ of Chusei-Kokoro really emphasises the intention of the mind, as being mindful or focused to the principle of Loyalty.

Chinese Kanji reference: From Middle Chinese compound 中心‎(trjuwng sim, literally “heart in the middle”). Compare to modern Hakka reading chûng-sîm. From 中 (chū, “centre”) + 心 ‎(shin, “core”).

Full meanings for Shin/Kokoro: Mind, heart, spirit, soul, thoughts, ideas, attention, interest, heartfelt feelings, emotion, emotional state, wholeheartedness, sincerity, true heart, sympathy, sympathetic heart, consideration, generous disposition, meaning, essence, empathy, answer (as to a riddle), etc.

Now you’re going to ask, “Well, that’s all very well and good, but what’s the kanji in the middle of the expression Chu Sei Kokoro (Sei)?” At the risk of opening up another can of worms, that is 誠 (Onyomi, Sei) and (Kunyomi, Makoto), meaning (in this case); Sincerity, also one of the ‘Seven Virtues’ of the Samurai. Sei also translates as; admonish, warn, prohibit, truth, honesty, fidelity, etc.

The Bushidō code is typified by what is referred to as, The Seven Virtues:

1.  Rectitude (義, gi)
2.  Courage (勇氣, yūki)
3.  Benevolence (仁, jin)
4.  Respect (禮, rei)
5.  Honesty (誠, makoto)
6.  Honour (名誉, meiyo)
7.  Loyalty (忠義, chūgi)

Notice that ‘Rectitude’ and ‘Loyalty’ both use the same Kanji for ‘Gi’ 義, as in Gi-Ri 義理 ‘Obligation’? But that’s for another article.

Gary Swift 9th Dan Hanshi. 19th October 2016.