Address by Her Holiness Shinso Ito at the 15th Annual Lantern Floating Hawai’i Ceremony

May 27, 2013
Honolulu, Hawai’i

Aloha, and welcome to Lantern Floating Hawai'i 2013. Let me first offer my heartfelt thanks to Mayor Caldwell, the Honorary Chairman of this event, to Governor Abercrombie, and to all our honored guests. I'd also like to thank the staff and volunteers who have made this magical day possible.

When the founder of Shinnyo-en, Shinjo Ito, and I visited Hawai'i in 1970, we offered sincere prayers to the spirits of all who have lived here since days gone by, and we have continued to include them in our daily prayers. The people of Hawai'i have a beautiful tradition of offering their gratitude and love to the departed through expressions of song and dance. Much the same way, the lantern floating is a moment of prayer in which the lanterns symbolize our wish to remember our ancestors and share with them our appreciation, inspiring us with the courage to strive to be better ourselves, and to improve the world around us.

As Shinjo said, true peace can only be realized through the accumulated effort to achieve mutual understanding. The theme of Lantern Floating Hawai'i is "Many Rivers, One Ocean," and looking around us today, we can understand why. We see a diversity of cultures, beliefs, and perspectives, yet we are united with one heart toward a common goal of compassion and peace.

In the Mah?pariNirvana-Sutra, believed to be a culmination of all the Buddha's teachings, it is written that we all have a buddha nature -- our unique goodness and source of hope that shines brightest when we dedicate ourselves for the sake of others. In gazing out over the hundreds of lanterns shimmering on the blue water, I hope you will join me in acknowledging our outward differences, while at the same time encouraging what is special in each of us and recognizing that in truth, the buddha nature that we all share is what unites us.

All of us here today to witness this event are connected through the light of the lanterns. As we look back and forth from the lanterns to each other, we feel an overwhelming embrace of healing, of our own innate ability to promote harmony in ourselves and in others. Hand in hand, let us start from the shores of Ala Moana Beach to expand our prayers of love and generosity so that our actions of friendship reach far and wide, throughout the world.

Mahalo nui loa