Bishop’s Aspiration for the 2022 Gathering at the Nagasaki Peace Bell

kansho with lei at Nagasaki Peace Bell

Aspiration Delivered at the 2022 Nagasaki Peace Bell Gathering

Bishop Eric Matsumoto
August 9, 2022

As we gather today, regardless of national origin, ethnicity and religious affiliation, let us reflect and rededicate ourselves to world peace and harmony, to a world that is free of nuclear weapons of destruction and there is deep respect for human life. May we be guided and inspired by Enlightened Wisdom and Compassion.

Today, I would like to share some insights and a famous Buddhist parable from the Pure Land Buddhist Tradition known as the “Parable of the Two Rivers and the White Path.” Our predicament is described as a lonely lost traveler walking alone where I find myself trapped between two raging rivers of fire and water which are engulfing me.  Our reality is that many are not even aware of the raging waters of greed and the raging fires of anger which threaten all of us. Some people are aware of it, but don’t know what to do and thus in deep despair. According to the Parable, the Historic Buddha (Sakyamuni Buddha) is encouraging us to seek refuge in an All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion (Amida Buddha) which calls out to each and every one of us especially to those of us who are living in these Latter Days when 1) wars and natural disasters abound, 2) there is a confusion of values, 3) there is increased anger, greed and ignorance, 4) inferior quality of human life including egotism, and 5) the wasting and shortening of human life.

Does this not sound like our world today with all the racial discrimination, political chaos, natural disasters including the Pandemic, wars including gun violence related to mass shootings etc. which are affecting all of us very negatively.   So many people, in general, are reacting to all these situations with such intensity, division, and hate. My thought is how crucial it is for all of us, instigators and victims, to respond and not react to people and situations.  Here is where Buddhism with its teachings of being mindful and reflection including reflecting on oneself to see how easy it is for the “ugly” side of me to appear becomes really meaningful and relevant. So, we can, as much as possible, respond and not react.

Further, let us not lose hope. As one source explains, although it is the Latter Days, “typically this was not a cause for despair, because this scheme was accompanied by teachings that the Buddha, having foreseen the coming of this dark age, had provided beforehand…(that) which were suitable for the time.” Our rescue is a Wisdom and Compassion which includes everyone and everything in its embrace and tempers our negativity with awareness and where in gratitude of Great Compassion and deep lament of my limited self, we respond to it by embracing the aspiration for peace and harmony in the world for both self and others by awakening to True Reality.

May we all be guided, nurtured and embraced by All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion so that as another sutra states, “The land is prosperous and people live in peace, so there is no need to use soldiers and weapons. People respect virtue, cultivate benevolence, and diligently observe propriety and humility.”

Entrusting in All-Inclusive Wisdom & All-Embracing Compassion/Namo Amida Butsu.

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