“NAMO AMIDA BUTSU AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
At the start of the New Year, let me begin by expressing my deepest appreciation and gratitude to the entire Sangha and Friends of Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii who have supported our Organization for over 130 years in Hawaii. It is because of Amida Buddha’s Great Wisdom and Compassion, the guidance received from the Revered Masters and Teachers like Shinran Shonin who shared the Teachings and the Sangha that we have been able to come this far. Thank you to one and all!
Deeply reflecting, I have noticed that we speak a lot about the Buddha and the Dharma, but we seldom speak about the Sangha. However, the Sangha is also essential. Thus, out of this awareness, our next 5 Year Theme and Slogans will focus on the Sangha. Of course, the Sangha (which is you and I) which tries to live the Dharma as shared by the Buddha. There is no doubt that the thoughts, words and actions of every individual is very important and makes a difference.
Let us receive guidance from “The Teaching of Buddha” in which it shares about clergy that,
Those who wish to teach the Buddha’s teachings acceptably must be concerned about four things: first, they must be concerned about their own behavior; second, they must be concerned about their choice of words when they approach and teach people; third, they must be concerned about their motive for teaching and the end they wish to accomplish; and fourth, they must be concerned about great compassion.
Further it shares,
Lay followers should not only believe in the Three Treasures…by themselves, but also they should, as far as they are able, help others…to awaken in them an unshakable faith in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, so that they, too, may share in Buddha’s compassion.
Let us, the Sangha, clergy and lay, jointly together share our awareness, joy and gratitude for Buddha-Dharma.
In Jodo Shinshu Teachings, Shinran Shonin shared that when we (regardless of whether we are clergy or lay) realize true mind (shinjin), we unfailing gain ten benefits in the present life. I would like to mention three of the ten: the benefit having great joy in our hearts, the benefit of being aware of Amida’s benevolence and of responding in gratitude to his virtue, and the benefit of constantly practicing great compassion.”
In regards to “practicing great compassion,” Shinran Shonin quotes a sutra “What is “great compassion?” Those who continue solely in the nembutsu without any interruption will thereby be born without fail in the land of happiness at the end of life. If these people encourage each other and bring others to say the Name, they are all called “people who practice great compassion.”
Further, let us keep in mind the thoughts of our 3rd Spiritual Leader Kakunyo Shonin who said, “(Our) Prosperity is dependent on the quality and depth of the Shinjin of our Followers.” Rennyo Shonin, our 8th Spiritual Leader, further shared, “…be careful not to let the mind run its course unbridled…be sure to control it. It is wrong to allow the mind to take its course unchecked. We are enabled to control the (our) mind due to the Other-Power.” Finally, our 25th Spiritual Leader, His Eminence Gomonshu Kojun Ohtani shares,
By listening to the Primal Vow and how it was established by Amida Tathagata, we are enabled to become conscious of our own ignorance and self-oriented inclinations, and through such awareness, we naturally become gentle in word and deed in our efforts of minimizing our egoistic way of thinking.” “Even though our efforts may pale in comparison to the Buddha’s Compassion, we are at least guided in the proper direction by the Buddha Dharma.
As I have been emphasizing the life of Shin Buddhist is one of responding in gratitude to the Wisdom and Compassion of Namo Amida Butsu by reciting the Nembutsu and we try to live our life guided by the Dharma in grateful response until our life culminates (at death) with our entering the Pure Land of Perfect Peace and Happiness to attain Perfect Peace of Enlightenment. May the New Year be truly prosperous in the truest sense of the word. Happy New Year!
Eric Matsumoto, Bishop