Sympathy Message & Statement on the Wildfire on Maui
We are truly saddened and shocked to learn about the recent wildfire that devastated Lahaina, one of the most beautiful historic towns in Hawaii. With much pain and sympathy, we must report that our Lahaina temple buildings were all burnt to the ground while we are relieved to know our resident minister, Reverend Gensho Hara, and the family are safe after evacuation several times during the night.
I wish to express our sincerest condolences to those who lost their lives, residents of Lahaina, and all those affected by the devastating wildfire on Maui. The loss of precious lives and properties is truly heartbreaking and our prayers are with the community as they rebuild and heal from this tragedy. Please know that we are not alone. Our ancestors must have experienced this devastation many times in the past and every time they got to be strong and rebuild what they lost.
According to the Buddhist teachings, life is marked by change with the impermanence of all things, and it is our understanding that true solace can be found in supporting one another during these challenging moments. May we all find strength in the interconnectedness of all beings as we move forward on the path of healing and recovery.
We have now two Go Fund Me fundraisers for both rebuilding Lahaina Jodo Mission and supporting Rev. Gensho Hara. Your kind support will be greatly appreciated.
Namu Amida Butsu.
Bishop Kosen Ishikawa
Dear members and friends,
It’s been over a month since the Maui wildfires raged over Lahaina, Kula, and their people on August 8. I was heartbroken to know that eleven members of the Lahaina Jodo Mission lost their houses in addition to the loss of Rev. Hara’s house and temple buildings. I also recently met one of the relatives of our member who lost his house while he was traveling on the mainland. I was speechless and felt condolences to hear this loss from the 89-year-old man. Are your families or relatives in Maui okay? If not, please let us know. I would like to support not only Rev. Gensho Hara and the temple but also the relatives of our Jodo Mission members who were affected by the fires as we are “Ohana” of Jodo Mission.
No matter how small the donation may be, its value will be significant. I strongly feel rebuilding members’ houses is as equally important as rebuilding the temple. Without members and ministers, the temple cannot fully serve its community. Therefore I’d like to continue to support Sensei, the temple, and its members in whatever I can do for them for now and for the future. I thank those who already sent relief funds or donations to the Lahaina Jodo Mission. I was also moved to see all the familiar names who contributed to GoFundMe. Thank you very much.
Since this devastation of Lahaina town, I’ve seen many articles and news videos of Rev. Gensho Hara. Though Sensei must have been very stressed and busy, he has done a great job of sharing the Buddha-Dharma with his sincere appreciation for the kindness and generosity he received. At our recent statewide Sunday Service after the Kyoku meeting, Rev. Hara delivered an inspiring Dharma talk and shared the touching stories of the Amida Buddha Statue and his family’s cat called “snowflake” with us. Although this is such a challenging situation and hardship, I see this may be a great chance to share the Dharma because we don’t need to go out to share the teachings but they come to listen to us.
To my surprise, I also received interviews with a major Japanese newspaper editor and saw an article on myself as I happened to be President of the Hawaii Buddhist Council. After experiencing the interview, I was intrigued by the editor’s questions, “What would Honen Shonin teach if he had to face this harsh reality of the devastation?”
Until I encountered this question, I was thinking about how to support the temple materially including online fundraising but this question made me realize that my mission is to help people with Buddha’s teachings and spread the teaching of Honen Shonin which is supposed to be the source of peace and happiness. As soon as I received this question, I immediately thought of the passage from the words of Master Honen. The title is “Tenjuu-kyoju（転重軽受）” which literally means “To convert heavy burden to accept lighter.”
Honen Shonin said, “Illness is the result of unwholesome residual karma. As such, one cannot prevent illness through prayer to any Buddha or deity. If prayer could heal and prolong life, there would be no illness, there would be no death.”
I think this statement by our founder is truly honest. National disaster is also like an illness that we cannot escape. Disasters are always happening somewhere in the world. We ministers always rely on the prayer as if prayer always works. But Honen Shonin clearly states this current situation whether good or bad was brought by the residual karma in the past. No matter how hard we pray, we cannot change this reality and cannot do anything. That’s the reality. However, the only thing we can do to accept this current reality is with the teaching of “Tenjuu-Kyoju” or the teaching to make the heavy burden lighter.
Prayer cannot work as we wish to come true but because of the prayer, we can have peace of mind. Nenbutsu will lead us to be born in the Pure Land which is an extremely happy land after this world. With the faith and practice of Nenbutsu, we can make this heavy burden to accept lighter. Thanks to the Amida Buddha, the Nenbutsu can lessen the impact of the ailment through his great compassion.
Another good understanding of “Tenjuu-Kyoju” is to support Lanaina with many people. The super heavy burden stays heavy if one person tries to carry it by oneself. But even if the burden is heavy, by holding with more people, the burden can be lighter. In like manner, we can overcome this hardship by sharing sadness with many people.
Once again, I thank you very much from the bottom of my heart for your kindness and generosity. Let us work together to ease our Jodo Mission Ohana and friends’ heavy burden through this wonderful teaching of “Tenjuu-Kyoju.
”Namu Amida Butsu with Gassho,
Bishop Kosen Ishikawa
September 21, 2022
Message from Bishop Kosen Ishikawa
Dear Members and Friends of Jodo Mission of Hawaii,
Thank you very much for your warm support and participation in our Obon services last week. It was wonderful to see you and your families. Some of you were our long-time members and friends, while others were new faces. Obon felt like a reunion of "Jodo Mission ohana members," bringing together both the living and the departed.
As we welcomed Obon, it was a honor for me to write 37 Hatsubon O-Toba and to pray for departed loved ones who welcomed their first Obon this year since last summer. It allowed me to recall and think of your beloved ones and families. Your generosity and kindness during this Obon season deeply moved me. On the first day of Obon, the 522 O-Toba looked lonely with nothing but sticks and tables at the social hall. However, as soon as the doors opened, our members started making food offerings and dedicated flowers to the O-Tobas. The empty O-Tobas were gradually adorned with colorful flowers and various foods each day, as if the spirits of our ancestors were visiting one by one. After the Obon service ended, all the O-Tobas were taken down within an hour, as if our ancestors had returned to the world they came from, leaving no trace behind. The sincere offerings on the O-Toba were beautiful due to their ephemerality.
I would like to express my gratitude to President Daryl Masaki, the board members, ministers, and volunteers who dedicated their time and energy to plan, prepare, and observe Obon with the 522 O-Tobas. Special thanks to Ms. Christine Inouye who was our Obon chairperson. She took the time to take photos of O-Toba and sent it to those who ordered. She also prepared meals for the ministers and volunteers. Another Mahalo goes to Ms. Sally Hayashi for her great work, taking care of everything but the religious services for our temple. All of your support and help were invaluable in making Obon a success.
I also extend my heartfelt thanks to Mr. Darin Miyashiro for his beautiful Koto performances, which our beloved ones must have enjoyed along with the food offerings and flowers. Mr. Miyashiro teaches Koto and Gagaku (Imperial Court Music) at both UH and Jodo Mission, so if anyone is interested in learning these instruments, please let us know. I have recently started learning the "Ryuteki" or Japanese transverse flute and would appreciate someone to practice with. Let’s learn together! Also I would like to thank Ryugen Taiko, led by Mr. Nolan Miyahara, for entertaining both the living and the departed with powerful Taiko drumming as we concluded Obon.
Lastly, my sincere “Arigato” goes to my wife and children. I always take it for granted for their help and I forgot to mention and introduce them to you before the services. Their help has been invaluable. Though I’m sorry internet connection was not stable, but my children managed to record high-quality videos of the services. So if you'd like to watch them, please let me know.
This month, we are looking forward to another significant event, the Bon Dance. In Hawaii, Bon Dance is considered an important fundraiser, but it's also an essential community service to provide a fun festive atmosphere and great opportunity to meet both old and new friends. We sincerely wish you to enjoy our Bon Dance. At the same time, We’d very much appreciate your help and support for our Bon Dance. Once again, a heartfelt mahalo nui loa to you, your family, and your beloved ones from the bottom of my heart!
Bishop Kosen Ishikawa