2016 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Message

On Sunday January 17, Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii Bishop Eric Matsumoto spoke at St. Andrew’s annual bell ringing ceremony in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Here is his message.

Bishop Matsumoto at Parke Chapel (St. Andrews)
Bishop Eric Matsumoto

As we gather for this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Bell Ringing Ceremony, I am encouraged by the Doctor’s words, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” In recent times, there seems to be an escalation of acts of violence that has resulted in so many deaths and the suffering continues for family, friends and communities of those that were killed and at the same time the anger of those who committed the violent acts still remain unabated. Sadly, the causes and conditions that give rise to this kind of negativity and suffering has not lessened.

May we take Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to search deeply into our hearts and minds to learn and try to address the causes and conditions which result in the harm and suffering which plague us. With all the tragic news we hear, it is easy to become overwhelmed and think the situation is hopeless, but as Reverend King encouraged we must not lose hope. We must continue to speak of peace, non-violence, harmony and mutual respect. This message cannot be lost.

Coming from the Buddhist tradition, which emphasizes karma defined as “Actions and the results of those actions” and not predestined fate or fatalism, it really depends on what we do. It is up to us, as humankind, as to what kind of world we would like to not only live in, but “be” for it is our actions which create the world.

As the Reverend Doctor said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” He also said, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

May we be guided by All-Inclusive Wisdom and inspired by All-Embracing Compassion (Amida Buddha) reaching out to illumine our hearts and minds so we may realize that, though we may have differences, there is also the paramount truth of the preciousness of all life.

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