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Headquarters Updates, 2019
Messages from Bishop Eric Matsumoto
A Humble Reflection
(following the shootings at the Pittsburgh Synagogue
From the Office of the Bishop
Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, Office of the Bishop, would like to express our loving thoughts and condolences to those who are, directly and indirectly, most affected by the tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which took 11 precious lives. At this time, let us avail ourselves to All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion for guidance and comfort.
In the Smaller Sukhavativyuha Sutra, it mentions the Chaotic period of the Five Defilements in which tainted views, rejection of moral laws and the Law of cause-conditions-and-effect and an increase in anger, greed and ignorance arise, to name a few. Once again, we are made to painfully acknowledge that we live in a world in which confusion and chaos abounds and immense suffering prevails as we must confront the tragedy which struck on October 27, 2018. As we deal with the shock, loss and grief, may we seek guidance in the Wisdom of Enlightenment so that we may all understand the oneness of all Life and may we seek assurance in Unconditional Compassion so that we are motivated to non-violent ways and inspired by the saying from the Dhammapada “Hatred is not overcome by hatred. Hatred is overcome by love. This is an ancient truth.”
On November 1, 2018, a special “Prayers for Pittsburgh” was held at Temple Emanu-El Honolulu to which a very diverse cross section of the community gathered to express sympathy and also show support for the Jewish Community. It was a service to honor those who were killed and also a time to comfort to those most affected according the Rabbi Ken Aronowitz. At the Service, prayers to the Divine were offered, the 11 individuals were dearly remembered and a touching Muslim response was also shared. Amidst the sorrow and sadness, there was also encouragement on how to transition from the grief and loss. As part of the Service, “When I Die” by Merrit Malloy was read. In part, it reads “When I die give what’s left of me away…And when you need me, put your arms around anyone and give them what you need to give me…Love doesn’t die, people do. So when all that’s left of me is love, Give me away.” I was most touched by it. This reading tries to transform the tragic loss of life and its affect into something which helps to positively transform other people’s lives.
A constant theme throughout the evening was hope. That, one day, there would be peace, harmony and contentment for all people. Despite the challenges we face living in samsara we must not give up. Just as Great Compassion or Love has not given up on us, we must have hope. The source of our hope is Wisdom and Compassion and our endeavor towards a more peaceful and harmonious world is our grateful response to that All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion.
Namo Amida Butsu/Entrusting in the Buddha of Immeasurable Life and Infinite Light.
Eric Matsumoto, Bishop
From the Office of the Bishop,
Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii
Statement Against the Separation of Families
June 20, 2018
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
In just a few words, the above, which is found on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, summarizes for many around the world, past, present and future, what America represents, promises, is and should be. As human beings, as people, we all need hope. As a nation, are we going back on our promise to the world? I hope not.
From a Buddhist perspective, both the process and end result are important. The procedure of how matters are handled is as important as the outcome. While the current policies of our nation do not outright deny individuals and families entry into the United States, the procedure must be more compassionate and should not be tearing families apart. The bond between parent(s) and child(ren) is one of the most, if not the most, precious relationships a person can have especially when young. The policy of Zero Tolerance is too extreme. As Americans, I believe, we have pride in that we are a just and fair nation. We may not be perfect, but in our interactions around the globe, we have tried to uphold this standard which is becoming of a world leader.
Our Jodo Shinshu Buddhist tradition has a long history of valuing human life, seeing the importance of relationships including with the natural environment and emphasizing inclusiveness as evidenced by the Great Vows of Amida (Amitabha-Amitayus) Buddha and writings of Shinran Shonin and Rennyo Shonin, our foremost spiritual leaders.
Although the circumstances may have been a little different, I also draw from the past experiences of a segment of our Buddhist membership who, because of their (Japanese) ethnic and national origins, had to unfairly experience separation from family during the last great world war. There was, and for some still remain, so much pain and trauma from the separation. It is a circumstance that should not be repeated for anyone. Is it not one of our basic understandings in America that the family is the backbone of our nation? We need strong individuals and families being guided by universal values to be a better nation and world.
A quote from the Metta Sutra reads, “May all life be happy. May they be joyous and live in safety. All life, whether weak or strong, in high or middle or low realms of existence, small or great, visible or invisible, near or far, born or to be born. May all life be happy. Let none deceive another nor despise any life in any state; Let none by anger or hatred wish harm to another. Even as a mother at the risk of her life watches over and protects her only child, so with a boundless mind should one cherish all life, suffusing love over the entire world, above, below, and all around without limit; so let us cultivate an infinite goodwill toward the whole world.”
As such, with this statement, I express my lament and express my ardent wish that we rescind the Zero Tolerance Policy and its ramifications which result in separating families. May we become a more just, fair and compassionate nation.
Eric Matsumoto, Bishop
Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii
Photo by US Government (U.S. Customs and Border Control) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. source »
Headquarters Updates, 2018