New Year Message
The New Year has always been a time of hope, renewal and new beginnings. I am hopeful that the year 2022 will be brighter and happier for you and your Ohana of family and friends, and all of us! Needless to say, the Pandemic has adversely affected all of our lives in various ways including the feeling of isolation and disconnect. However, let us not despair. Please always fully understand that Amida Buddha as Namo Amida Butsu is always with us embracing us as Great Compassion. There is a Jodo Shinshu expression “Ki-Hou-Ittai no Namo Amida Butsu” or “Namo Amida Butsu of the oneness of Amida Buddha and those to be saved.” For this reason, we able to be born in the Pure Land to attain Enlightenment and, even in the here and now, we are never truly all alone!
Further, there is another dynamic in which we can appreciate the truth that we are always supported by others and thus never alone. I recall the life of an Oahu Hongwanji member who was always so grateful for the food she ate every day. She couldn’t help, but place her hands together in gassho/anjali to express her appreciation and gratitude to the plants and animals for their gift of life and all others who played a role in her receiving the precious gift of the meals she ate each day. She was aware of the so many other lives which surrounded and supported her. She had to try to live her life as best she could out of appreciation and gratitude.
However, on the plane of human social interaction, yes, COVID has severely impacted our ability to interact with each other even among family members and as a Sangha at temple. I know many of you miss so dearly being able to come to the temple, the physical symbolic home of Amida Buddha. As the situation with the Pandemic slowly improves, please consider gathering, once again, at your temple. We must still be cautious especially with the discovery of the Omicron Variant, but when the time is right, please join us at the temple both current members and newcomers. Let us reconnect and connect with each other! The Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii including your temple needs you! Please remember, there are three treasures not only two.
As we begin a new year, this would be the opportune time for us to reconnect with family and friends. Depending on the situation with the Pandemic, it might not be physically just yet, but there are other ways to connect such as writing down (or video recording) your most precious thoughts, wishes and aspirations as in a journal or as letters as did Lady Eshinni and Lady Kakushinni, and even Shinran Shonin. What is that which is most precious to you? What are the best memories you have? Why is the Teachings of the Buddha and the temple so important to you? Would it make you happy if your family becomes part of the Hongwanji Sangha?
Let us make manifest our Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii Theme & Slogan for 2022 which is “Building Healthy Sanghas: Connecting with Others.” Of course, this “Connecting with Others” is not limited to our close circle of family and friends, but with others around the world too. This year’s Hawaii Kyodan Calendar highlights His Eminence Kojun Ohtani’s “Our Pledge” which more concretely shares why and how we may connect with others. In this New Year, let me encourage you to begin reciting Gomonshu-sama’s “Our Pledge” on a daily basis.
To conclude, please join me to recite Namo Amida Butsu or The Buddha’s Name Which I Call (in gratitude) in response to Namo Amida Butsu or The Buddha’s Name That Calls Me (to entrust). Namo Amida Butsu. Thank you and Happy New Year from Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii and the Office of the Bishop.
Eric Matsumoto, Bishop