The Importance of Hōonkō
Reverend Matt Hamasaki, Resident Minister

Minister's Blog

November 2022

This month, we are observing Hōonkō which is the annual memorial service for the founder of our sect, Shinran Shonin. In the word, “Hōon” means “gratitude” or repaying a kindness” and “kō” means “a gathering” or “lecture meeting.”

The tradition began with Shinran’s daughter, Kakushinni, who took care of her father’s mausoleum and invited his followers to pay their respects.

The Hōonkō service is one of, if not the, most important service for Jōdo Shinshū practitioners. This is because, without Shinran’s clarification, we would not be able to understand the deep meaning of the nembutsu teaching.

The Hōonkō service is one of, if not the, most important service for Jōdo Shinshū practitioners. This is because, without Shinran’s clarification, we would not be able to understand the deep meaning of the nembutsu teaching.

This faith is not a blind faith, but rather one that necessitates activity. It is vital to our spiritual lives to question things, to have trial and error, and to find what makes sense or not; otherwise we will simply have a surface-level grasp of the teachings.

Only when we put in the time and effort to work it out and then try to live what we learn will we be able to see the benefit.

The reason we’re on this journey is different for each person and so our motivation comes from somewhere incredibly personal. We must find this within ourselves to keep the course steady, inching closer to lasting happiness as we go about our daily lives.