“The New Normal”

Bishop Eric Matsumoto
August 2020 “Bishop’s Corner” message from HQ Update

As we slowly head towards the end of summer, it will soon be September when we observe the fall equinox. At the time of the autumn equinox, as with the spring equinox, balance and harmony is emphasized and closely associated with harmony is peace. In Hawaii, because of our historical, cultural and geographical circumstances, the months of August and September abound with reflective commemorative remembrances of WW II and Peace Day in Hawaii. This year is no exception and had it not been for the COVID-19 Pandemic we would have been participating in many such remembrances especially in this significant 75th anniversary year of the bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki and also the end of WW II.

Bishop Eric Matsumoto at Pohaku Stone Monument at August 6, 2020 dedication

Pohaku Stone Monument at August 6, 2020 dedication Bishop Eric Matsumoto shared a dedication-aspiration at the dedication of a Pohaku Stone Monument on August 6, 2020.
Top photo by Brandon Saigusa (Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjinkai)

However, regardless of COVID-19, it is still important to remember and honor those who sacrificed their lives and also reflect and aspire for world peace and harmony. Thus, on August 6th, the dedication of a Pohaku Stone Monument was co-sponsored by the City and County of Honolulu and the Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjinkai Association. Due to restrictions brought on by the Coronavirus Pandemic, the dedication consisted of only a small number of representatives such as Managing Director Roy Amemiya representing Mayor Kirk Caldwell of the City and County of Honolulu, the Honorable Consul General of Japan in Honolulu Koichi Ito, and other important community leaders including President Wayne Miyao of the Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjinkai Association who was Master of Ceremonies, to name a few. It was my honor to share a dedication-aspiration after acknowledging the presence of Amida Buddha with an opening chant.

We have all become familiar with the expression “The New Normal.” My emphasis for the dedication was our need for a new normal to guide and inspire us as we endeavor for world peace and harmony. As part of my dedication-aspiration, I shared,

Today, similar to COVID-19’s bringing a “new normal” to our world, more than ever, we need to be guided and inspired by an All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion which gently transforms our way of thinking and encourages us to act and live differently. Let us realize that we are not as independent and exclusive as we think we are, but are instead deeply interrelated and interconnected by our relationships with each other. Let us recognize and respect those relationships and know how we affect and are being affected by one another other.

As a prominent religious leader (His Eminence Kojun Ohtani from his book “Moving Forward Just As You Are”) shares, “anywhere in the world we may go, we must never forget about the tragedy of war that cost the lives of so many people.” “The weakness of our relationships with each other is the result of us thinking about ourselves more than others.”

Also, let us remember the wisdom of the words “Human beings tend to move in the direction of their thoughts” (The Teaching of Buddha, BDK).

In this 75th Anniversary year of the bombing of Hiroshima and also the end of WW II, let us recall and be inspired by the compassionate gesture of Sri Lanka/Ceylon at the San Francisco Peace Talks at which Ceylon renounced all war reparations “based on the noble and ancient saying “hatred ceases not by hatred, but by love.”

As we get closer to the equinox, it will soon be Peace Day in Hawaii. It was 14 years ago that with the cooperation of many including certain political representatives, but especially the youth of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii Hawaii Federation of Jr. Young Buddhist Associations and students of Pacific Buddhist Academy, that Peace Day became a reality in Hawaii.

This year, the HHMH Peace Day Committee chaired by Rene Mansho is planning several endeavors throughout the state and even reaching out to the world to increase the awareness of the importance of Peace Day. One project that we can all participate in will be the Minute of Silence in honor of all those who have endeavored for peace around the world at 12 noon and a bell ringing at 12:01 p.m. on Monday, September 21, 2020. Everyone is invited to participate by ringing a bell even from home. The plan is to reach out to the Hawaii Buddhist Council and the Interfaith Community in Hawaii for a statewide bell ringing and also invite the world to join us.

In this 75th anniversary year, let us take a moment to deeply consider an alternative, a new normal, to bring about peace and harmony. Not the external forces of laws and sanctions imposed, but rather an internally motivated force or power which comes from deep within each of us guided and inspired by the virtues of Great Wisdom and Compassion. Thank you and 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.