A Humble Reflection on Pittsburgh

November 3, 2018

A Humble Reflection

by Eric Matsumoto
Bishop, Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii

Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, Office of the Bishop, would like to express our loving thoughts and condolences to those who are, directly and indirectly, most affected by the tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which took 11 precious lives. At this time, let us avail ourselves to All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion for guidance and comfort.

In the Smaller Sukhavativyuha Sutra, it mentions the Chaotic period of the Five Defilements in which tainted views, rejection of moral laws and the Law of cause-conditions-and-effect and an increase in anger, greed and ignorance arise, to name a few. Once again, we are made to painfully acknowledge that we live in a world in which confusion and chaos abounds and immense suffering prevails as we must confront the tragedy which struck on October 27, 2018. As we deal with the shock, loss and grief, may we seek guidance in the Wisdom of Enlightenment so that we may all understand the oneness of all Life and may we seek assurance in Unconditional Compassion so that we are motivated to non-violent ways and inspired by the saying from the Dhammapada “Hatred is not overcome by hatred. Hatred is overcome by love. This is an ancient truth.”


On November 1, 2018, a special “Prayers for Pittsburgh” was held at Temple Emanu-El Honolulu to which a very diverse cross section of the community gathered to express sympathy and also show support for the Jewish Community. It was a service to honor those who were killed and also a time to comfort to those most affected according the Rabbi Ken Aronowitz. At the Service, prayers to the Divine were offered, the 11 individuals were dearly remembered and a touching Muslim response was also shared. Amidst the sorrow and sadness, there was also encouragement on how to transition from the grief and loss. As part of the Service, “When I Die” by Merrit Malloy was read. In part, it reads “When I die give what’s left of me away…And when you need me, put your arms around anyone and give them what you need to give me…Love doesn’t die, people do. So when all that’s left of me is love, Give me away.” I was most touched by it. This reading tries to transform the tragic loss of life and its affect into something which helps to positively transform other people’s lives.

A constant theme throughout the evening was hope. That, one day, there would be peace, harmony and contentment for all people. Despite the challenges we face living in samsara we must not give up. Just as Great Compassion or Love has not given up on us, we must have hope. The source of our hope is Wisdom and Compassion and our endeavor towards a more peaceful and harmonious world is our grateful response to that All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion.

Namo Amida Butsu/Entrusting in the Buddha of Immeasurable Life and Infinite Light.

In gassho,
Eric Matsumoto, Bishop