A Statement of Sympathy

The following is a letter sent to the White House stating the feelings of all Higashi Honganji ministers regarding the World Trade Center tragedy and future American foreign policy.

September 24, 2001

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President

The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. on September 11th have brought tremendous confusion and suffering. We, the followers of Shin Buddhism, express our deepest condolences to the victims, their families and friends. This tragedy reminds all of us how helpless we are in the face of such a catastrophe where only sadness, pain, and anger remain.

However, while we do not accept any act, terrorist or otherwise, in which the dignity of human life is ignored, we cannot condone any retaliatory acts that can lead to war. Such actions will only result in spreading more hatred and violence throughout the world and lead to the suffering of innocent victims. We therefore urge you to seek a course of non-violent action to detain and bring before a world forum of justice, those who may be responsible for the acts of September 11, 2001. We further urge you to seek a way of building bridges of understanding and reconciliation with all those who have harmed us. In addition, we ask that you do everything possible to defend the safety and rights of citizens here in the United States who may be targeted because of their ethnic or religious background.

Six years ago in June 1995 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, our Headquarters, Shinshu Otani-ha of Kyoto, Japan, issued an Anti-War Statement which reaffirmed that all followers of our tradition should do our best to work for world peace and walk the same path as all people, regardless of their ethnicity, language, culture, and religion. Buddhism is a religion to free oneself from sufferings, one of which is the attachment to one’s own views and the imposing of it on others. This attachment hinders true dialogue.

The terrorist attacks and the probable American retaliation reconfirm the urgent need for our pledge to be practiced. The primary wish of all humanity, past, present, and future, is to live peacefully in a world free from discrimination. Only through realizing this universal wish, may all human beings be united as one.

It is our fervent hope that America display her greatness by looking deeply into the nature of all suffering and showing true Compassion.

Respectfully,
Ministers of Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temples
(North America and Hawaii Districts.)

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