To fellow seekers in our overseas Higashi Honganji districts, I wish you “Happy New Year.”
It’s been almost a year since my appointment as Overseas District Abbot. Despite the assignment, I haven’t had a chance to join you in person at any Dharma activities—not even at your Hōonkō services—due to the pandemic. I truly miss meeting you in person.
During the pandemic, many of your temples have utilized the Internet for new types of Dharma sharing activities. I’m happy to hear about the new ways that Jodo Shinshu is being shared in these challenging times.
These virtual events, which include memorial services, seminars, and study classes, have allowed people who never before accessed our temples to participate, including people from different cities and even different countries. Such activities help us share nenbutsu teachings in new ways and represent how we may share the Dharma in the future.
However, I strongly feel the importance of having a “place” where we “meet” in person and together listen to, learn, and share the nenbutsu teachings. It’s my wish you’ll continue to maintain this “place,” our temples, where our nenbutsu sangha may grow.
We are approaching the 850th Celebration of Shinran Shōnin’s Birth and 800th Anniversary of the Establishment of Jōdo Shinshū, planned for 2023 at our mother temple in Kyoto. Steady progress is being made to prepare for those events. I look forward to this opportunity to celebrate in person with you the birth of Shinran Shōnin.
-Bishop Yul Ōtani is Higashi Honganji’s Overseas District Abbot