3, 2, 1, Start ✕ 3 (Bishop Matsumoto recommends three videos)

Bishop Eric Matsumoto
July 2020

Summer is here! However, it is unusually quiet this year. I wonder “Why?” I know. There’s no music in the air. I don’t hear “The beat of the taiko goes boom, boom, boom” for Bon Dance.

Our circumstances this year, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, prevents us from gathering at our temples for any large scale O-Bon Services and festive Bon Dances. Truly, unfortunate, but at Headquarters we were determined that the Coronavirus may prevent us from physically gathering, but it will not stop us from expressing and celebrating our spirituality, awareness, joy, gratitude and sense of community. We just have to do it differently this year.

As Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, we have delved into the virtual world as we have never done before and will continue to do so, so that we can continue to be able to keep connected with you and share the Wisdom and Compassion of the Buddha-Dharma with many more people.

YouTube banner image on HHMH website
The initial banner image on the HHMH home page links to the HHMH YouTube channel

This year especially this summer, I would like to encourage you to view, at least, three online videos for your enrichment, enjoyment and expression of your Buddhist spirituality. Hence, the title of this message “3, 2, 1 Start x 3.” For those who may need help to view them, I encourage you to ask family and/or friends especially younger people for their assistance and invite them to view it together with you. All of the 3 videos can be viewed on the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii YouTube Channel by going to the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii Website at hongwanjihawaii.com and clicking the YouTube banner which appears at the top.

Click a heading to view more information about and to access a video:

Video #1 “Bon Service for Hawaii”
Bon Service for Hawaii 2020 (July 11 & 12) - video title screen with two-headed bird (FB)
Available now for on-demand viewing

At the beginning of the Pandemic, it was feared that we would not be able to gather at our beloved temples to observe O-Bon services. We would not be able to remember our deceased loved ones. We would lose a moment to reflect on their life and the relationship we have with our dearly departed and others. We would lose an opportunity to realize the preciousness and oneness of all life. We would, then, not be able to rejoice on that which makes our life meaningful. Finally, we would not be able to positively respond in gratitude to all that makes life so special especially the warm and compassionate embrace of Amida Buddha, the Buddha of Immeasurable Life and Infinite Light, who is promising all life, unconditionally, supreme and perfect Enlightenment. In short, we would miss our “Gathering of Joy” or O-Bon as it is known in Jodo Shinshu, Hongwanji. This would be a great loss! Thus, the idea of a virtual State-wide Bon Service for Hawaii was conceived. It premiered on July 11 and 12 on the HHMH YouTube Channel, but is still available for viewing until September 15, 2020. Donations can be made to temple(s) of your choice online. Please view it as an expression of your reverence for the Buddha and in remembrance of your loved ones.

Video #2 “Bon Dance Experience” (Premiere date: August 15, 2020)
HHMH Online Bon Dance Experience thumbnail image - 8/15/20, 7 p.m., HHMH YouTube channel
Will premiere Saturday, August 15 at 7 p.m.

Similar to the situation with O-Bon Services, it was anticipated that this year, in all probability, no Bon Dances could also be held. Every year, thousands and thousands of people throughout Hawaii look forward to local temple bon dances in their communities for spiritual comfort, fun, camaraderie, good food and fellowship. How unfortunate if we totally miss out. The virtual State-wide Bon Dance will premiere on August 15, 2020 on the HHMH YouTube Channel. Donations can be made to your local temple online. Please join us for an evening of bon dance music and dancing in your own home and enjoy the virtual Bon Dance with special messages from the Office of the Bishop. The video will be available until September 15, 2020 for viewing.

Video #3 “Jodo Shinshu Buddhism: A Celebration of Joy and Gratitude”
Jodo Shinshu Buddhism short film thumbnail image
First premiered on Olelo 53, YouTube premiere scheduled for August 1

Last year (2019) was the 130th Anniversary of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii. An idea to capture some of the thoughts and feelings of our Hongwanji Sangha members, both young and old, was envisioned by Irene Nakamoto and the Headquarters Office. With the full support of the Propagation Grant Committee which funded the creation of the video, a 10-minute video commemorating the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii’s 130 years in Hawaii and capturing some valuable spiritual contributions as expressed by young and old were captured on film by Mark Nitta. Please view the short video with your family, friends and fellow Sangha members to confirm the valuable significance of the Buddha-Dharma and its continued impact on our lives. Let us be encourage and inspired to pass on and share these Teachings with future generations of the people of Hawaii.

To conclude, a final word of thanks to the Hawaii Kyodan New Expressions Committee, the Monshinto Task Force and the Social Media Team including the State Ministers Association for spearheading and your continuing online endeavors in this most challenging of time of COVID-19, with so much suffering and loss of life. Let us be supported, motivated and inspired to persevere and do all we can to improve this situation by remembering how interconnected and interrelated all of our lives are. O-Bon is the perfect time for this kind of reflection, realization and response. It is a time to think about the past, the present and the future, and all peoples and all life, all existence! Thank you very much.

In gassho, Rev. Eric Matsumoto, Bishop
Namo Amida Butsu/Entrusting in All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion (Amida Buddha)

Bishop Eric Matsumoto in ministerial vestments (small thumbnail image)Reverend Eric Matsumoto is the 16th bishop of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii.