This morning, members of Soh Daiko participated in the New York Buddhist Church’s annual Hiroshima-Nagasaki Memorial Service. Held in front of the statue of Shinran Shonin, a statue that originally stood overlooking the city of Hiroshima and witnessed the devastation of the first atomic bomb 71 years ago, this service serves neither to admonish nor approve of these events, but rather to encourage everyone work towards finding the best versions of themselves, striving towards a common goal of peace.
In an article posted before the 2013 service, writer Laura Itzkowitz explains the significance of the statue of Shinran Shonin as a symbol of peace:
“When 150,000 people were killed and 90% of the buildings in Hiroshima were destroyed by the atomic bomb, this statue was one of the few artifacts to survive. Shinran Shonin founded the Jodo Shinshu school of Buddhism in the early 13th century because he had become disillusioned with what Buddhism had become during the turmoil of the early Kamakura period.
The statue was brought to the United States in 1955. It was originally offered to the United Nations as a symbol of peace, but the UN declined the proposal due to the lack of a proper space. Instead, it was placed in front of the New York Buddhist Church, which has been operating on the Upper West Side since 1938. It was the first center for Jodo Shinshu in New York City and continues to be active, with Buddhist chanting and meditation sessions, study groups and religious services.”
We are thankful to the NYBC for including us in this important service and will strive to live up to its message.