Her Holiness Shinso Ito's Message at the Lantern Floating Hawai'i 2017

June 02, 2017
Honolulu, HI


I am filled with great joy to see so many of you here at Lantern Floating Hawaii in a shared spirit of remembrance and gratitude on this Memorial Day.

Let me take a moment to express my heartfelt appreciation to the people who each year make this day possible, beginning with Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Director Alvin Katahara representing Hawaii Governor David Ige, Rear Admiral Brian S. Pecha representing Admiral Harry B. Harris, commander of the United States Pacific Command, and our other honored guests. I wish to also give my deepest thanks to the staff and volunteers, and to the wonderful people of Hawaii.

In a moment, we will be floating lanterns dedicated to our loved ones. We share in this opportunity to bring as one our hearts in the present, with those in the past. Together, we are then inspired towards a future of hope. The lanterns symbolize the presence of friends and families that touched and shaped our lives, helping to make us who we are today. As we remember those who have passed, let us also extend our memories to the people who support us in our everyday lives.

We can even extend our gratitude to embrace all that sustains us, from the food we eat, to the air we breathe, to every blessing that fits together, linked in harmony. You have the perfect symbol for this idea, the Hawaiian lei.

It was with this spirit of harmony that the founders of Shinnyo-en and my parents, Shinjo and Tomoji Ito, began their tradition of floating lanterns. Like you, I am thinking about my loved ones today. In this 50th year since the passing of my mother and teacher, Tomoji, I find myself inspired by her steadfast dedication in offering peace and comfort through prayer and action. Her unique courage to embrace life’s challenges and adversities has fortified my own life. To everything she stood for, I dedicate my lantern in a pledge to only go forward.

At home in Tokyo, I also find inspiration in a small garden at our head temple that Shinjo and Tomoji established with so much care. Every part of it is an integral element of the beautiful whole. One stone, shaped like a bowl, when filled with rainwater quenches the thirst of small birds. Each flower, each tree fulfills its own special role. Like the garden, I believe that each and every person here is equally irreplaceable. Each of us has an inherent goodness that, when brought out, can make a crucial difference in the lives of others.

While we can’t dismiss the pain and suffering that we see around us, we can cultivate a compassionate understanding and response. We can challenge ourselves to truly reach out through dialogue and action. And with a mind free and uninhibited—like the light of the lanterns over this great ocean—we can embrace generosity and inclusivity without bounds. Let nothing hold you back.

Mahalo nui loa!