To welcome the New Year, I would like to extend my heartfelt greetings to you all. On behalf of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to all of you for your support, dedication, and participation in our services and activities.
Since I took the Headquarters Office as the new Bishop last July, I have been able to visit some of your temples. I bow my head to the ministers, temple leaders, and temple members for their tireless effort in protecting their temples and sharing with others the joy of Namo Amida Butsu. Each temple has its challenges and opportunities. As a community of people joined together revering the teaching of Shinran Shonin, let us work toward the realization of a society in which everyone can live a life of spiritual fulfillment.
This year, the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii will observe the Triple Celebration at Ala Moana Hotel on September 7-8, 2024. The Triple Celebration commemorates the 850th Anniversary of the Birth of Shinran Shonin, the 800th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Jodo Shinshu Teachings, and the 135th Anniversary of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii. The Steering Committee is working hard towards the two-day celebration event and its related programs. I would like to invite you all to attend this auspicious anniversary.
Our Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii Theme and Slogan for 2024 is “Building Healthy Sanghas: Sharing Nembutsu Moments.” What are the “Nembutsu Moments”? These are the moments when the voice of the Nembutsu, “Namo Amida Butsu,” spontaneously flows from our lips.
The main body of the Sutra on the Buddha of Immeasurable Life explains the Forty-eight Vows of Amida Buddha, who undertook to establish a Pure Land for the enlightenment of all sentient beings. Shinran Shonin regarded that our act of saying “Namo Amida Butsu” is derived wholly from the working of Amida’s Vow. It means that the sound of “Namo Amida Butsu,” the promise Amida Buddha made to embrace and never abandon all beings, is already fulfilled and extended to all beings. It is the calling voice from the Buddha of Immeasurable Light and Life that holds the Buddha’s boundless empathy, concern, and compassion toward all beings. Such a message of universal compassion reaches into our hearts and minds, and flows from our lips spontaneously as “Namo Amida Butsu.”
What we experience in our daily lives could be the opportunities to ascertain and appreciate the truth of Boundless Wisdom and Compassion that embraces our lives. Let us experience, savor, appreciate, and share the Nembutsu moments with our families and friends in our daily lives.
May the sound of the Nembutsu flow from our lips. May the Wisdom and Compassion of Amida Buddha inspire and guide us always. Namo Amida Butsu.
Rev. Toshiyuki Umitani
Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii