ON is an obligation; a debt of gratitude, or kindness. Often in Japan we hear someone says “I owe somebody a debt of gratitude”. Some of folk tale are all about ONGAESHI, giving back a debt of gratitude. One story is a crane support an old man who once saved its life, by weaving beautiful textile with own feather so that he could make his better life by selling it. So the title of the story is ONGAESHI of a crane. On is something you receive and to give back in the future.
MY grandfather, who were retired school teacher, used to teach a boy from local village who had a difficulty at school. This boy came to our house almost every morning and sat with my grandfather in his room for one hour or so before going o school. I can’t remember exact age of him but something between 13 and 15. He succeeded to finish his school and started working in a factory. Several years later, he showed up at our home and presented his hand-made table to my grandfather. It was a beautifully decorated with shiny shells on the surface. I remember i was totally surprised but rather impressed by the whole event; being helped for study by a village man(my grandfather), remembered the help for several years even after his graduation, made a gift for him by own hands, and visited to show his gratitude to his teacher! I thought wow!!
This is ON. This boy felt ON towards to my grandfather. Not for days, not for weeks but for years!
ON exists between human relationship. We receive ON from someone during our life especially when you are struggling something. Then, when your situation gets better and have more peaceful space, you give back ON. By that way, we honour our relationships.
Also, living with the feeling ON towards someone makes you get going with strong will. ON drives you go forward. It can becomes one of reasons of living.
Kanji ON has two parts top 因 and bottom 心.
top 因 means reasons or cause.
bottom 心 means heart or mind.
Therefore ON is someone sits on top of someone’s the heart and become a reason (for living). Or exist on someone’s heart and leaves clear impression.
I have ON towards many people actually. Recent ones are relating to past five years of my life. Revisiting the place where I was in five years ago certainly revealed my path of growth. And also I re-realised so much ON I received during those times!!! This made me realise that those ON kept me alive and gave me chances to enjoy Life.
I don’t know at the moment exactly how to give back ON fully to all of them, apart from not to forget it and me live as fully as possible without wasting ON I received from them.