Address by Her Holiness Shinso Ito at the 14th Annual Lantern Floating Hawaii Ceremony

May 28, 2012
Honolulu, Hawaii

Aloha! I’d like to personally welcome all of you to the Lantern Floating. Let me first offer my heartfelt gratitude to Mayor Peter Carlisle, the Honorary Chairman of this event, as well as to Governor Neil Abercrombie." I’d also like to thank all our honored guests, the people of Honolulu, and all the staff and volunteers who’ve made it possible to hold this lantern floating again this year on Memorial Day.

The beautiful Ala Moana Beach Park has been transformed into a very special place. It’s become a realm of the sacred where we can reach out to family members, friends, and loved ones who have already passed on into the next realm. Together, we remember those who’ve come before us, and have an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the life we have been given. And with that, we can step forward to a future of hope. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, all of us gathered here for this occasion today, from Hawaii and around the world, are connected through the bonds of ohana (family). The light of the lanterns brings us both tranquility and courage. Further, it binds us together as one big family.

The theme of this ceremony is “Many Rivers, One Ocean.” When countless streams merge and become one, the result is an ocean. That all-encompassing oneness brings us many blessings as human beings. Around us today there is a diversity of cultures, religions, and ways of thinking. Also, each of us has a different and unique character. The founder of Shinnyo-en, Shinjo Ito, once said, “True peace is born from mutual understanding.” When we respect one another with the spirit of aloha, accepting and embracing our differences, we can create a sense of harmony amid our diversity. Valuing the deep connections we have with each other will make it possible for all to be able to swim in an ocean of joy.

The lanterns floating in the twilight remind us of one such connection. It is the one we have with those who’ve gone before us. The flickering lights are like the joyous exchange of hearts we’re having today with them. Tomoji, the spiritual mother of Shinnyo-en, used to speak of her hope that our everyday actions would help us realize how we are all inter-connected. Thinking of our various families and communities, and so that all in this realm and the next may rejoice together, I ask you to join me today in extending a warm light of friendship and love from the seas of Hawaii to the rest of world. Mahalo nui loa.