Reflection offered at Hawaii premiere of “Toyo: Behind the Glass Eye”

brochure image for "Toyo: Behind the Glass Eye" exhibit - boys behind barbed wire

A reflection offered by Bishop Eric Matsumoto
Nisei Veterans Memorial Center
February 16, 2019

As we gather, today, at the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center (on Maui) for the Hawaii Premiere of the exhibit “Toyo: Behind the Glass Eye” which features photographs taken by Toyo Miyatake, let us take time to reflect and aspire.

Bishop Matsumoto (photo from Hawaii Betsuin Annex Temple on 1/19/19)
Bishop Eric Matsumoto (from a 1/19/19 event at Hawaii Betsuin)

Although the causes and conditions which led to Executive Order 9066 are multi-faceted and complex, one thing can be said for sure that fear played a large role. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “People fail to get along because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other. They don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

May this exhibit be a means of communication which fosters understanding, mutual respect and love between all peoples.
The Rev. Dr. also said, “Man is not our Enemy” “intolerance, fanaticism, dictatorship, cupidity, hatred and discrimination” are the real enemies “which are present…in our very hearts and minds.” At Chinese and Japanese Buddhist Temples, many times one will find a lion depicted among peonies. The message is that our worst enemy is not an external physical enemy of another, but rather the internal enemies of arrogance, self-centeredness, ignorance and hate to name a few which plague us. Just as the mighty lion has no external enemies, but can be made ill by a tiny parasite inside its body and can only be healed by the medicinal properties of the peonies, may we be nurtured by the Light of Wisdom and Compassion so we may become more wisely aware of our tendencies and inspired by a non-dichotomous love or compassion.

The Buddha said, “Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time; hatred ceases by love, this is an old rule.” May we be guided by All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion which encourages us to go beyond our ego, whether it be our individual ego, our national ego, or sometimes our religious ego and even our ego as humankind so we have a true community. It is said, Thousands of people may live in a community but it is not a real community until people know each other and have empathy for one another. A true community has faith and wisdom that illuminate it. It is a place where the people know and trust one another and where there is harmony.”

Again, may this Exhibit and the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center fulfill its purpose of nurturing all people’s hearts and minds, regardless of ethnicity, culture and religious affiliation, as we “see” through the eyes of another and begin to truly understand which leads to true peace, harmony and respect in the world for all peoples.