The Value of Harmony

2018 New Year’s message from Bishop Eric Matsumoto

Bishop Matsumoto in orange robes at the pulpit

Happy New Year! “The Value of Harmony”

Please let me express my warmest Aloha and best wishes to you for a joyous and harmonious new year!

At the start of the new year, let me share some Dharma sayings which have a special place in my heart. First, (slightly adapted) from The Teaching of Buddha:

  • “Thousands of people may live in a community, but it is not a true community until everyone knows each other and has empathy for one another. A true community has faith and wisdom that illuminate it. It is place where people know and trust one another and there is harmony. In fact, harmony is the life and essence of a true community or organization.”
  • “Thus, the true teaching is the fundamental requirement of a perfect organization.”

Secondly, from Prince Shotoku:

  • “Let us cease from wrath and refrain from angry looks. Nor let us be resentful when others differ from us.”
  • “We are not unquestionably sages, nor are they unquestionably fools. Both of us are simply ordinary people. How can any person lay down a rule by which to distinguish right from wrong? For we are all, one with another, wise and foolish, like a ring which has no end.”
  • “Sincerely revere the Three Treasures. The Three Treasures are: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.”
  • “There is no age in which people cannot find the Dharma to be noble. Those who are extremely wicked are few, but when they are taught the Dharma, the can follow it. Unless they align themselves with the Three Treasures, on what basis can they correct their mistaken ways?”

Thirdly, Shinran Shonin’s words:

  • “May there be peace in the world and may the Buddha’s Teaching spread!”

Our Theme & Slogan for 2018 is Embrace Change: Harmony (Accept Differences) and encourages us to accept differences and live in harmony with each other, but due to our self-centered tendencies this is most challenging. However, we are being encouraged by the Buddha-Dharma. Harmony and accepting differences is not a sign of weakness or powerlessness. On the contrary, it requires deep insight and inner strength as exemplified by the Two-Headed Bird/Gumyocho (found in the border pattern of this year’s calendar) that symbolizes the truth of interdependency which our 25th Spiritual Leader is emphasizing.

His Eminence Gomonshu Kojun Ohtani shares:

  • “Everything in this world exists based on interdependency. When we are not aware of this, we tend to think to ourselves that our own perspective is the only one that is right and justified. This is what causes conflicts to arise.”
  • “How then, do we attain peace that we seek in the world today?”
  • “…it is necessary that we first treat others with the same care and respect that we would show ourselves.”
  • “The weakness of our relationships with each other is the result of us thinking about ourselves more than others.”

In 2018, nurtured by Buddha’s Wisdom and Compassion, may we become more aware of the virtues of humility, self-reflection, mutual respect, non-violence, equality and harmony contributing towards a more peaceful, compassionate and harmonious world. Namo Amida Butsu/Entrusting in All-Inclusive Wisdom and All-Embracing Compassion!

In Gassho/Anjali,

Bishop Eric Matsumoto
Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii