“Are We Really Better Than This?”

Reverend Maria Luisa David’s home in Mexico is about 100 miles from the child detention centers. A psychologist prior to becoming a minister, she also spent several years working with Spanish-speaking children and families in the Los Angeles area who were undocumented immigrants from El Salvador, and all over Latin America.

“I have been so emotionally caught up in the issues related to the children being locked in cages,” said Rev. David. “I see people who tell me what it is they are trying to escape. People in Hawai’i cannot imagine the horror of what is going on in the USA. I know you see it, but being here next to it is a whole different reality.” 

With her unique perspective on a difficult issue, Rev. David’s talk will focus on the idea of the legacies that we leave as human beings, and the way we live on. “Are We Really Better Than This?” will address not only the separation of families by governments, but separation by death, and the way we wish to be remembered by those left behind.

Rev. David’s talk is part of the Honokaʻa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple’s 115th annual Memorial Service on July 21, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. in the Social Hall, followed by Bon Dance at 7 p.m. Anyone of any faith is encouraged to remember and honor loved ones who have passed away in the last twelve months. 

A simple and healing ceremony, open to all, the service not only pays tribute to the departed, but expresses gratitude to them and all ancestors in an uplifting way, often referred to as a “gathering of joy.” During the Memorial Service, names of those who passed away in the preceding year are read aloud, as families and friends step forward to place incense as a gesture of appreciation for their life.

As the service concludes, everyone is welcome to stay, enjoy and join in the dancing, music, food and celebration. A traditional Buddhist style of folk dancing, Bon Odori (Bon Dance) is accompanied by lively Taiko drums and music, led by dance groups in colorful happi coats to represent different temples. Young and old participate, whether they are beginners or lifelong dancers.

The Bon Odori tradition began with a story of family separation. A disciple who mourned his deceased mother asked the Buddha to use supernatural powers to look for her in the afterlife. He discovered she was suffering in a ghostly realm and told the disciple to make offerings  on the 15th day of the 7th month. As the disciple did so, he saw his mother’s release from pain—as well as the true nature of her selflessness and love in life—and began to dance with joy. Today people continue to dance in honor and celebration of loved ones who have passed on.

For the Memorial Service on July 21, names may be submitted in advance by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or text 808-640-4602. During the Memorial Service, when the person’s name is called, anyone may step forward with friends and family to offer a small amount of incense (provided), with aloha. Participants do not have to be a temple member or a Buddhist to participate, and even without advance arrangements, anyone can honor loved ones by submitting a name just prior to the beginning of the ceremony. Admission is free, and all are welcome. For more information, visit www.honokaahongwanjibuddhisttemple.org, Honokaa Hongwanji Mission on Facebook.