Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaiʻi 2024

Address by Her Holiness Shinso Ito


Aloha! Welcome to Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaiʻi. I would like to offer my deepest appreciation to all who are taking part, our honored guests, and the volunteers and teams who make this ceremony possible. Thank you.


This year marks the 25th anniversary of conducting such a ceremony here with the community to offer prayers of hope for peace.


As we hold this ceremony on the evening of Memorial Day, we as the spiritual community of Shinnyo-en were humbled to lay a wreath in a ceremony held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl this morning. Shinnyo-en has been honored to participate in this solemn observance every year since 2004, when we were invited to offer a prayer and bring one of these Guiding Lanterns that held prayers specifically for spirits related to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.


The ceremony today opens with the sounding of Hawaiian pū and Japanese suila shells followed by the chanting of a traditional Hawaiian oli that was composed for Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaiʻi on the theme “Many Rivers, One Ocean.” It expresses our message of harmony amid diversity: that an inherent potential for goodness flows forth from each of us, like rivers, to come together as one in the great ocean of our shared humanity.


This year, we are graced with the presence of the great double-hulled voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa, which came home last December following the Lahaina wildfires, to be with her community, to help in the healing. Hōkūleʻa is a symbol of Hope, like a lantern providing light in the darkness. It is our hope that, after a particularly trying year, we will all come together to offer prayers on behalf of those who tragically lost their lives in the fires on Maui last year, and to hold in our hearts the community of Lahaina, which suffered such terrible destruction and loss. May we fill our prayers with a heartfelt promise, dedicating the happy results of all our actions to the benefit of all living beings, beginning with the safeguarding of our environment and preserving nature.


Our floating lanterns of shinnyo are shaped like small boats. The founder of Shinnyo-en, Master Shinjo, taught us to navigate life by understanding the natural movement of the waves of our actions. By observing them, we would see that the positive efforts we make, no matter how small, ripple outward, grow, and accumulate to spread happiness in this world and beyond.


The light of goodness within the lantern-like vessels of our hearts represent warmth and humanity that has been passed down to us from all who have come before, connecting us together across the gulf of years and ages gone by. The wholesome prayers we pray in the present are like a swelling ocean breeze that propels us forward, so that we can make our way home, back to a sense of oneness and shared humanity with others.


We will work hard to help those facing hardships to find peace and comfort. As we amass such good works and expand our deeds to encompass even the well-being of our island Earth, I believe we will become more than just little lanterns. The brightness of the light within us will grow exponentially brighter, and we will become capable of helping all we meet find their way. In this way our lights will grow bright enough to ignite countless others.


I will now conduct the rite. May it ignite the light of truth inherent in each person, and radiate out from the oceans of Hawaiʻi, illuminating all directions.


Namu Shinnyo.


About Her Holiness Shinso Ito

Her Holiness Shinso Ito is the current head of Shinnyo-en. She is one of the few women to become a Buddhist master and attain the highest priestly rank of Daisojo.


When the founder of Shinnyo-en, Master Shinjo Ito, visited Hawaiʻi in 1970, he paid respects at Punchbowl and the Arizona Memorial. Profoundly moved by this experience, he was inspired with the wish to hold a lantern floating where people could share their hopes for peace.


Recognized as Master Shinjo Ito’s most accomplished disciple, Her Holiness Shinso Ito succeeded him as the head of Shinnyo Buddhism after his passing in 1989, and carried out his wish in the form of Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaiʻi on Memorial Day, 1999.


Profoundly aware that a spiritual path must be meaningful for people living today, Her Holiness teaches an engaged form of Buddhism where practitioners see their daily surroundings as their training ground for cultivating their innate “buddha nature” – the seed of enlightenment that can blossom through giving joy to others.


We hope that her message inspires you to share aloha with those around you.