Happy New Year, everyone! At the beginning of this New Year, I would like to extend my best regards to you all.
Over the last year, innumerable people worldwide have been affected by natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, and forest fires. I was particularly shocked by the wild fires that devastated the island of Maui in the state of Hawaii. This disaster completely destroyed the temple hall of Lahaina Hongwanji Mission and one temple member was reported to have lost his life. I would like to offer my deepest condolences to all who have perished in those calamities. I would also like to express my sympathies to those who are still coping with the dire situations. It is my sincere hope that all who have been affected will soon be able to return to a normal daily life.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began in February 2022 is still continuing. Not only that, the conflict between Israel and Palestine has once again flared up from October 2024, embroiling nations concerned with victimizing a large number of people many of whom are civilians. Looking at the appalling state of the world, the following words of Sakyamuni Buddha come to mind. “Everyone fears violence and is scared of death. In consideration of all life, do not kill and do not make others kill.” Every one of us who has received life as a human being, no matter the reason, must be ensured equally of human rights, and no one’s life should be threatened. In reality, however, conflicts and terrorist attacks have occurred everywhere in the world and for many people, their right to live and exist has been threatened. As Buddhists who aspire for peace, we must keep Sakyamuni Buddha’s words seriously in our hearts and pursue our endeavour of contributing toward world peace and security.
During the last year, we observed the Joint Celebration of the 850th Anniversary of Shinran Shonin’s Birth and the 800th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Jodo Shinshu Teaching at Hongwanji, Kyoto for a total of 30 days, divided into 5 sessions during the period from March 29 to May 21. On this occasion, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to those who came to Japan to attend, as well as those who supported it in various ways. This celebratory event could be realized only because our predecessors have cherished the Jodo Shinshu teaching as their spiritual foundation for many years no matter when or where they were, and carefully transmitted it to us today.
Let us, too, continue listening to the teaching as the center of our lives while cherishing each day.
Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha