Watercolor illustration of clouds
Skip to main contentThe eight-spoked wheel of Dharma, with a graphic representation of a lotus at its center.

Her Holiness’ inspirational message for 2024

January 01, 2024

An energetic calligraphy of the Japanese character for dragon appears on a background of gently blended pastel blue and purple watercolor, marked with a red Japanese name stamp representing Her Holiness Shinso Ito.

Tokyo, Japan / Calligraphy of ideogram 龍 (“Dragon”) by Shinso Ito, Seal: Shinso

Unified in one heart as successors to our founders’ sacred wishes for the awakening of all far and wide, may we be inspired to spring forward into action, like the powerful dragon that symbolizes this year. With heartfelt prayers for the peace, harmony, and happiness of all.

This year—2024—is the Year of the Wood Dragon. Wood signifies beginnings, and the dragon is associated with burgeoning growth and expansion. We should see the coming year as an opportunity to soar like a dragon in flight.

To share my hopes for our community for this year, I have composed this verse:

Basking in the merit of shinnyo ever-present do we live,
turning to the treasured sanctuary of sesshin do we practice,
hopeful and in sincerity.

As we work to complete the preservation of our traditional head temple so it may become an enduring place of spiritual refuge for posterity, we should also cultivate reverence for ever-present shinnyo as a means to further beautify our home. When we practice namu shinnyo, “namu” refers to turning to someone or something for spiritual refuge with a sense of reverence and trust. “Shinnyo” refers to the light of wisdom that permeates everything and the wellspring of compassion by which all life is nourished. Master Shinjo taught that we beautify our hearts and minds by acting in ways that uphold and share that Dharma.*

At this time when we are witnessing many terrible conflicts and environmental disasters that bring great suffering to the world, we must work for the benefit of all others with genuine care. We must embody compassion and emulate the gentleness that our spiritual teachers exemplified by putting our good intentions into practice through small acts of loving kindness in our immediate lives, contributing to peace and harmony in our local communities, and supporting our ongoing philanthropic efforts around the world.

The strength of our faith and confidence in the interconnectedness of everything, the effects of our actions, and the potential for goodness within all living beings help us to behave in ways that promote honesty. This is why we should strengthen the pillars of our convictions. Diligent, daily practice of sesshin meditation allows us to reflect on our convictions so we can further better ourselves, building integrity in our practice by engaging in service, joyous giving, and spiritual care.

This is a time for strengthening our efforts, like a dragon in flight builds up strength. Setting out to fulfill our bodhisattva vows, made for the happiness and liberation of all others without any discrimination, requires great strength of will. May we be inspired in the coming year to act vigorously for the well-being and spiritual liberation of humankind, the myriad living beings that share our world, and our entire cosmos.

Shinso Ito
Head Priest of Shinnyo-en

*Buddhist concepts such as “Dharma” and Shinnyo-en-specific terms like “sesshin” are defined in the FAQ and Glossary of our website. Learn more here.

View more news and events