The end of the year is a time of reflection. What kind of year was 2022 for you and your loved ones? What kind of year do you want 2023 to be?
In general, coming out of the pandemic, we anticipate that 2023 will be a much better year as we resume much of our pre-pandemic activities. However, it is also a fact that 3 whole years have passed and, directly and indirectly, the world including ourselves have changed in many ways.
On one hand, the Pandemic showed how susceptible we are to worldly conditions and, at the same time, our resilience. However, as we move forward, it is not merely a simple matter of resuming pre-pandemic activities by scheduling them. We need to connect more than ever with each other including with the Dharma and our purpose as an organization.
Have you ever wondered “why” the Bodhisattva Dharmakara (Amida Buddha) made vows such as in the Buddha’s realm there would be no hellish, craving-ghostly, and beast-like existences or that one and all would be of radiant pure gold, or that everyone’s appearance would be equally pleasing to all, or that each would possess the wisdom to see into the minds of others, and thus…know the(ir) thoughts, and that those who, even now, receive the Buddha’s Light will become soft and gentle in body and mind?
Did you know that Sakyamuni Buddha promised that “In the future, all the sutras will become extinct. However, out of compassion and pity, I will ensure that this (Larger) sutra alone remains for a further one hundred years. Those sentient beings who encounter this sutra will attain emancipation in accordance with their aspiration.”
Do you know why “When the (Historic) Buddha finished expounding this sutra, Bodhisattva Maitreya (see photo), the bodhisattvas from (all) the ten quarters (of the universes), the Elder Ananda, all the great sravakas, and all those who were in the assembly, without exception, rejoiced upon hearing what the Buddha taught.”
Do you know why Shinran Shonin was able to read the (Larger) Sutra in the following way “If there are persons who, having heard the Name of that Buddha, leap and dance with joy and say it even once, know that they receive the great benefit; that is, they acquire the unexcelled virtues.”
Do you know why our Hongwanji Denomination’s Constitution states our purpose as “…The organization transmits the wisdom and compassion of Amida Tathagata to all people, and in doing so, contributes to the realization of a society in which everyone, both within and outside of the organization, is able to live a life of spiritual fulfillment.” and why our Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii Mission Statement reads “To share the living Teaching of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism so all beings may enjoy lives of harmony, peace and gratitude.”?
If you don’t, in 2023, I would encourage you and those who have a connection with you to visit your nearest Hongwanji temple to find the answers. I sincerely hope that in the New Year, we will be able to meet at the temple with the Nembutsu of Awareness and Gratitude in our hearts and be able to share that Joy with each other to bring to life our Hawaii Kyodan Theme and Slogan for 2023 “Building Healthy Sanghas: Sharing Joy Together.” I close by expressing my wish that 2022 closes for you in a meaningful way which prepares you for a bright 2023. Thank you and Namo Amida Butsu/Entrusting the All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion.