Farewell from Bishop Eric Matsumoto, Disciple of the Horaku
Aloha Kākou/Aloha to One and All!
I really don’t know where to begin. There are so many people to thank. As I ponder on what to say for this final message, a quote by Shinran Shonin from one of his Letters comes to mind. “The teachers of Sakyamuni number one hundred and ten; this is stated in the Garland Sutra. Namo-amida-butsu.”
Reflecting on my life and tenure as your Bishop for the last 12 years, I realize that something similar can be said. It is preposterous, to think that I can compare to the Historic Buddha, but my indebtedness to so many others is something I cannot deny. I have been the recipient of their care, instruction, wisdom, knowledge and insight. In short, their generosity, sharing and caring nurtured me.
I am not enlightened and so cannot see beyond this current life, but since I was born the love and unquestioned support of my family especially my parents, Glenn Tatsuki (deceased) and Ann Aiko Matsumoto, and, though long since passed away my paternal and maternal grandparents, not forgetting my brother Alan and, today, my immediate family of Tamayo and her family in Japan, Chika and Caden support me to this today.
Also, throughout my student years from elementary school to graduate school, I have had the good fortune of having incredible teachers and instructors who imparted not only their knowledge, but showered upon me their genuine concern. Every part of my education such as my years at the University of Hawaii at Hilo learning Japanese Language and Culture from Dr. Tazuko (Ajiro) Monane, World History, and being awarded The Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship which took me to Japan was an essential part of my life’s journey which was leading up to a further broadening of my horizon.
As I see it, everything was leading up to my encountering Buddhism, the Wisdom and Compassion of Enlightenment which included my encounter with Rev. Dr. David Matsumoto and Bishop Marvin Harada of the Buddhist Churches of America who were Ministerial Aspirants in Japan back in the 1980’s. Their invitation to me to join them in their studies-quest changed the direction of my life as did the many outstanding professors I learned from such as the late Rev. Takamaro Shigaraki and many other remarkable instructors not to mention the benevolence of our Spiritual Leaders, but not to overlook dedicated fellow-practitioners and fellow-travelers like those elderly neighborhood ladies who picked up litter along the Horikawa Street walkway taken by the speaker for Honzan’s Early Morning Service. It took many years and not without the support of countless people, some long deceased like Former Bishop Yemyo Imamura whose writings influenced me deeply, and entities both in Hawaii and Japan including local individuals like Former Bishop Yoshiaki Fujitani and Rev. Tatsuo Muneto who provided me with spiritual guidance and you, the Sangha of Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii who provided me with a generous scholarship for 5 years and your continued support which culminated with Ordination (Tokudo), Full Certification (Kyoshi), being an Overseas Minister (Kaikyoshi) for 30+ years and eventually your Bishop.
Although I am not retiring, again, if it wasn’t for the support of so many of you, my life would not be what it is. My lifetime refrain is “How can one person be so fortunate!” As I see it, I am a mere recipient of the guidance, encouragement, kindness, and benevolence of others. I have not done anything special. If I have accomplished anything and my words are worth anything it is only because of the remarkable people in my life. I am only a vehicle. I only share what others have shared with me.
However, I share the best for last and that is the gratitude and appreciation for Shinran Shonin’s compassionate activity of sharing Amida Buddha’s immense Wisdom and Compassion which is ultimately the working of All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion (Amida Buddha or Namo Amida Butsu) itself, an unparalleled Wisdom and Compassion which includes everyone and everything with no conditions. It is out of gratitude and appreciation for all of the above and more (which I have not mentioned due to space limitations) that I do what I do. It is responding in gratitude, but especially the Buddhas’ benevolence and the wish to share the Joy of being forever embraced by Great Compassion.
Dear Hawaii Kyodan Board of Directors, Ministers and Temple Presidents and Headquarters Staff,
On my first day, after the completion of tenure as the 16th Bishop of Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to one and all. Although this Note of Appreciation is addressed and being sent to the current Ministers and Temple Presidents including Board of Directors and Headquarters Staff, I would like this message of gratitude to include all previous and past Ministers and Temple Presidents, Board of Directors, Headquarters Staff, and Hongwanji Sangha Members of the past 12 years to also be included as the recipients of my appreciation.
If it were not for your support, understanding and cooperation for the past 12 years, I would not have been able to function as your Bishop. It was an honor to represent all of you at various events and occasions both within and outside of the organization. Please know that your dedication and commitment in response to the Buddha-Dharma is crucial and essential for our organization, the Hongwanji Sangha, to thrive and continue what it does for the sake of all. Again, I want to thank the thousands without whose support I would not have been able to complete my tenure.
Last, but not least, please lend your full support to Bishop Rev. Toshiyuki Umitani, our new Bishop as he assumes the Office of the Bishop, today, as the 17th Bishop of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii.
Namo Amida Butsu/Entrusting in All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion and thank you! In gassho,
July 1, 2023
I conclude my final Bishop’s Corner by quoting, once again, the same Letter by Shinran Shonin. He said, “The selected Primal Vow (of Amida Buddha) is the true essence of the Pure Land way…The true essence of the Pure Land way (the Jodo Shinshu Teaching) is the consummation of Mahayana Buddhism...Namoamida-butsu.”
Finally, please join me in reciting Namo-amida-butsu, The Buddha’s Name Which I Call in Gratitude in response to Namo-amida-butsu, The Buddha’s Name That Calls Me to Entrust. Namo-amida-butsu, Namoamida- butsu, Namo-amida-butsu/Entrusting in All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion.