“Share Peace” is the 2014 theme for the Hongwanji temples of Hawai’i. A few months ago there was a photo/art contest for the upcoming 2014 calendar put out by Honpa Hongwanji. The contest asked, “Can you picture peace?” I thought long and hard about the different ways that peace can be manifested, and in the end decided to illustrate a path to finding peace within.
Inner peace is an essential component in being able to share peace with others. When you have peace in your heart, it radiates outward. The Nembutsu can not only lead to inner peace through entrusting Amida Buddha, but can also inspire compassion to share with others. The Japanese characters radiating outward are 南無阿弥陀仏 Namo Amida Butsu – mindfulness of Amida Buddha.
Hawai’i is the first state in the US to officially recognize Peace Day (September 21st, same as the United Nations International Peace Day). Peace starts as an idea, powerful enough to transcend all boundaries. A day when people of all backgrounds can come together to share their dreams of peace is very powerful. There are many roads to peace, but they all start with what you choose to share with others.
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Yet pumpkin carving is an art that I really should dabble in more often. It’s lots of fun, and with the right tools, not too difficult.
I picked this pumpkin at a local farm (yes there are pumpkin farms in Hawai’i). The weather was perfect, and it was fun to stroll through the rows of sunflowers, corn, green beans, and pumpkins. A friend and I each carved our own pumpkin. I was surprised at how easily the tools from the pumpkin carving kit sliced through the pumpkin – much easier than the knives I used to use growing up. It makes me want to create an even more intricate design for next year.
How did I get inspiration for an Amida Buddha pumpkin? It just popped into my head. Hardly traditional Halloween decor. But just as Jack-o-lanterns light pathways, the Buddha also illuminates a path. On this night celebrating the connection between this world and the next, it is a reminder that not everything on the other side is scary.
This art piece illustrates Amida Buddha’s Golden Chain of Love. Inspiration for this artwork came from a popular verse:
I am a link in Amida Buddha’s Golden Chain of love that stretches around the world. I must keep my link bright and strong. I will try to be kind and gentle to every living thing, and protect all who are weaker than myself. I will try to think pure and beautiful thoughts, to say pure and beautiful words, and to do pure and beautiful deeds, knowing that what I do now depends not only my happiness or unhappiness, but also that of others. May every link in Amida Buddha’s Golden Chain of love be bright and strong and may we all attain perfect peace.
The verse was written right here in Hawai’i, and is one of my favorite Jodo Shinshu verses because of its themes of compassion, unity, interconnection, peace, and love – as well as for the beautiful imagery it inspires. May we all attain perfect peace.