I’ve been on the board of directors of Jodo Mission of Hawaii since 2006, taking the seat of my grandmother Bessie Karamatsu after her passing that year, serving as the 1st Vice President. Since 2011, I’ve been serving as the organization’s president. On Sunday January 28, 2018, I chaired Jodo Mission of Hawaii’s General Membership meeting and ended it with my annual speech, most of which is below, though I free-styled a chunk of my speech:
“Happy New Year everyone!
2017 was a year of rebuilding and repainting our infrastructure. We’ve repaired cracks and breakage on our temple, and painted a new coat of cherry blossom pink on our uniquely designed temple, a beautiful landmark in Honolulu, Hawaii. For the first quarter of 2018, we will continue the repairs and maintenance by rebuilding our copper awning on the Diamond Head end of our temple. We’ve requested the company involved with the awning to board off the construction area so that our members can continue to visit the niches of their loved ones. Also, we will be repairing and repainting our apartment building.
Please join us in this year’s obon services and bon dance, bazaar, mochi-making and sales, monthly services, guest speakers, and other activities. Feel free to invite family, friends, and acquaintances to our events as well. We are very lucky to have you.
In Buddhism, a positive mindset and nonattachment is critical to having a positive life as reflected in the Eightfold Path’s “Right Thought.” How we think will determine our actions. Too often we blow out of proportion what we perceive as problems with excessive worry and sadness, or worse, anger. A person with a positive mindset sees problems as challenges, opportunity, and change. Focus on what we can control, rather what we can’t control. If no can, no can – detach, evolve, and go back on the offense for other opportunities, and everyday say “thank you” for every good thing in your live, the beautiful nature around us, and our loved ones here and those who passed away for being a part of our lives.
“Nonattachment” is an area that can be challenging to practice. Our suffering can arise from our attachments to people and things. When we break up with a significant other or face the death of someone we love, it’s heartbreaking. We can still love people and things even when they’re no longer with us, but not be attached to the darkness of our desires that makes us yearn for them that can cause depression, anger, and the downfall of our health and relationships. The energy of our loved ones who passed away have never been taken away from us, and the same goes for the love and lessons we’ve learned from a difficult break-up.
Buddhism teaches us the importance of being in the middle, that calm and peaceful zone. What brings us great joy can quickly bring us great sadness when we lose what brought us joy. What makes us angry can lead us to the darkness of moodiness, hatred, and even revenge. We can be aware of our feelings, but constantly be awakened as Buddhists and practice our Right Thoughts and avoid attaching ourselves to the darkness. In order to help others we must be at peace within ourselves. Just like in an aircraft emergency, we have to put our oxygen masks on ourselves before we can help others.
Buddhism is a way of life. Our practice sends positive energy to others and the universe. Just as we just prayed to those who passed away with Reverend Nakano. I’ve had enough supernatural experiences to know there is something beyond this physical world. Thus, our soul that’s filled with compassion, empathy, and love will never die, but transcend through all realms to make our universe more peaceful.”
Below are pictures from the 2018 Jodo Shu Hawaii New Year’s Party:
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