Dear Wailuku Hongwanji members and families, I hope all of you are well and enjoying the profound spiritual guidance of the Nembutsu. I would like to extend my deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims of the devastating fires in the Lahaina and Kula districts, as well as to those who have lost their spiritual gathering places and homes. May Amida Buddha’s boundless wisdom and compassion be with them, bestowing upon them Amida’s profound spiritual blessings. Namo Amida Butsu.
It is now the month of September, and it’s remarkable how swiftly time is passing. According to legend, “March and September are the most opportune times for us to introspect through the guidance of the Buddha Dharma and recommit ourselves.” This concept likely stems from the fact that during the months of March and September, the weather is particularly delightful, neither excessively hot nor cold in Asia. This time is conducive for reflecting upon the preceding six months of our actions. Numerous Buddhist teachers have upheld this tradition, introspecting through the teachings of the Buddha Dharma, reevaluating themselves, and, if necessary, rectifying their paths. This enduring tradition has been passed down through generations and is practiced today as Ohigan.
Although many from outside Hawaii perceive it as a perpetual paradise with year-round summer, this notion is inaccurate. Hawaii experiences distinct seasons just like any other place: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. The people of Hawaii can discern these seasonal variations. When the weather shifts, we don long sleeves and jackets, while still retaining our penchant for shorts and slippers—typical Hawaiian style, I believe.
March and April mark the spring season, May to September signify Summer, October and November usher in Autumn, and December to February bring Winter. Consequently, each season brings its assortment of fruits, including strawberries, medlar, watermelon, figs, persimmons, and others. Personally,
these are all my favorites. When I encounter or savor these fruits in their respective seasons, the words “Reflection and Re-dedication” come to mind.
Regrettably, being the flawed person I am, I perpetually forget that despite my introspection and evaluation of the past, I remain prone to making diverse mistakes. Instead of focusing on the positive aspects of others, I tend to seek out their faults. Once discovered, I often cast blame without acknowledging my own errors. It’s a simple task to identify others’ shortcomings but challenging to recognize their virtues. It saddens me that my blind passions persist even when I endeavor to improve. The deep-seated roots of these negative impulses persist within me. Perhaps Shinran Shonin experienced similar struggles during his time on Mt. Hiei. He encountered numerous challenges and likely found them difficult to resolve. However, by heeding the calling voice of Amida—Namo Amida Butsu—he came to realize that Amida Buddha accepts him unconditionally and guides him toward truth through the teachings of Buddha Dharma.
Buddha’s teachings emphasize, “Discarding greed and nurturing a charitable heart are virtuous deeds. Even more virtuous is cultivating reverence for the Noble Path.” One should relinquish self-centeredness and cultivate a sincere desire to assist others. A single act that brings happiness to another often inspires them to replicate such actions, generating a chain reaction of happiness. Just as countless candles can be illuminated from a lone candle without diminishing its lifespan, sharing happiness does not deplete it.
Jodo Shinshu firmly upholds that by listening to the Dharma, we are guided toward realization of our faults. Through this introspective process, we are enabled to rectify ourselves according to the teachings of the Nembutsu. This journey of recognizing our errors leads us to recommit ourselves through the profound teachings of the Nembutsu.
The following verse illustrates the path to truth through the enlightened guidance of the Nembutsu: To encounter a genuine teacher Is rare even amidst difficulties: No hindrance in transmigration surpasses The obstacle of doubt.
(The Collected Works of Shinran, Hymns of the Pure Land Master 108, page 389)
This is why dedicating ourselves leads to the joy and happiness in our lives. Joy emerges from genuine gratitude and dedication, fostering happiness in our hearts.
Message from the Bishop
It is with immense joy and a sense of humble responsibility that I began my duty as the 17th Bishop of Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii. While I am fully aware that I have much to learn and that the responsibilities of this role are significant, I am also filled with an unwavering enthusiasm to serve alongside each and every one of you.
As we continue this shared Nembutsu journey, I want to, first of all, express my gratitude for the dedication and commitment you have put into your temple, district, and the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii. Thank you very much. I am humbled to be surrounded by such inspiring ministers and Dharma friends. I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to meet you and collaborate with you to share the joy of the Nembutsu teaching with people in our community.
Please know that my door is always open, and I am here to support you in any way that I can. Whether it is guidance, encouragement, or simply a listening ear, I am committed to fostering a warm and nurturing relationship within the embrace of Amida Buddha. Together with the entire Headquarters staff, I look forward to working together with you. If you are in the vicinity, please drop by to say “Hi” and visit YOUR HQ’s Office and Bookstore.
May our life’s journey be inspired and guided by the Wisdom and Compassion of Amida Buddha.
Namo Amida Butsu