Joyous day in Hanapepe

HANAPEPE — Things which are now beginning to be proven by science have been known for the past 800 to 1,000 years, Bishop Eric Matsumoto of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii said Sunday during the annual Hanamatsuri celebration at the Kauai Soto Zen Temple in Hanapepe.

“Wisdom in sutra is being rediscovered by science,” Matsumoto said.

Hosted by the Kauai Buddhist Council, which includes nine Buddhist churches covering Kauai, nearly a hundred people filled the social hall at the Kauai Soto Zen Temple which was decorated in flowers.

“Welcome to Lumbini Garden,” said Gerald Hirata, president of the Kauai Soto Zen Temple. “This year, each of the churches had a responsibility. Kapaa Hongwanji Mission was in charge of the service and decorations and we all came out Saturday to help get this place done.”

Hanamatsuri, or the Flower Festival, is one of the most joyous occasions for Buddhists because it commemorates the birth of a priest who became Gautama Buddha, the founder of the Buddhist religion.

About 2,600 years ago in the northern kingdom of Kapilavastu in India, Suddhodana and Maya, Rajah and Maharani of Shakya clan, ruled. Following years of no children, their dream was fulfilled when Maya gave birth to a son on the eighth day of April.

“In referring to this incident in the life of the Buddha,” Matsumoto said, “the dream is symbolic because life has begun at the moment of conception, leading to Maya’s dream of the white elephant.”

The child was born in a small garden called Lumbini while Maya was en route to her parents’ home, as was the custom at the time to await the birth of the child.

This is the root for the hanamido, a flower encased shrine housing the Buddha, and the pouring of the sweet tea represents the gentle rain that fell on the day the Buddha was born.

As a prince, he had all the material wealth a person could wish for, but after seeing people suffering from illness, poverty and spiritual dissatisfaction, he renounced all of these things to seek a way to salvation.

“As science unravels more mysteries, in Buddhism everyone and everything is connected and relationships are important,” Matsumoto said. “Technology and science makes life more convenient, but there is no happiness. The goal of Buddhists is Nirvana, or a place beyond suffering and sorrow, a place of Perfect Wisdom. Look to be the greatest that you can be.”

Matsumoto said the most important aspect of Buddhism is that it does not tell you what to do. Rather, it offers freedom of choice and the responsibility of that choice.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., making the trip from Hanalei pancakes to visit with Matsumoto, said the guiding principles of Buddhism ties in with the spirit of aloha.

“Connection,” Carvalho said. “This is yet another way that shows how we are all connected. The guiding principles of Buddhism ties in with the spirit of aloha.”

Buddha Day, or Hanamatsuri, was recognized by the state Legislature in 1963. The first week of April of each year is observed as Buddha Week in Hawaii.

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