Statement on Black Lives Matter and Racial Justice: Bishop Marvin Harada and the Buddhist Churches of America Ministers Association

Message from Bishop Marvin Harada

The Color of Pure Gold



“If, when I attain Buddhahood, humans and devas in my land should not all be the color of pure gold, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.
                                                      — Larger Sutra of Immeasurable Life

Our world today faces racial tension and racism that tears at our humanity and society.

We watched in horror as George Floyd was choked to death by a policeman. People have marched in our cities — both large and small — throughout the world to protest racism, police brutality and injustice. It almost feels like we haven’t made any progress since the 1960s and the days of the Civil Rights Movement.

It is my hope and wish that progress can be made, that there will be a day when we won’t have to protest for equality and justice.

Such an aspiration is at the heart of the Buddha, as is expressed in the above quote, which is the third of the 48 vows in the Larger Sutra.

We don’t interpret this vow literally. It is not saying that we all have to have the same golden tan and color of skin. This vow is expressing what is at the heart of a Buddha, the heart of an Enlightened One that sees “beyond” the color of our skin, such that all beings reflect the “color of gold.”

May we strive to create a society and world that is based on that kind of aspiration, a world of oneness, an interdependent world that is made up of all sentient beings, a world beyond discrimination and distinctions, a world in which all beings reflect the color of gold.


Rev. Marvin Harada
Buddhist Churches of America

Statement in Support of Black Lives Matter and in Opposition to Racism

Today we find ourselves in a time of deep unrest and pain. There is no justification for the killing of George Floyd, of Ahmaud Arbery, of Breonna Taylor. These and other countless racially motivated misuses of force against Black people are a travesty that must not continue. The pain and anguish of the Black community is resounding throughout the United States and the world, and is touching the hearts of many more people, including our own ministers and members.

Amida Buddha is said to have the “Wisdom of Non-Discrimination.” This is manifested in the Great Compassion that embraces ALL beings. Amida Buddha does not reject anyone based on age, gender, class, race, or any other basis. Although it is difficult for us as unenlightened beings to manifest this Wisdom of Non-Discrimination, this radical equality is an ideal in our tradition. Although it is difficult for us as foolish beings to manifest the all-embracing Great Compassion, this kindness and caring is our model to strive for. However, this equality will never be reached until Black Lives Matter.

Buddhists are not immune from racism. The insidious influence of racism is learned from many sources, usually unconsciously. It is important for us as Jodo Shinshu Buddhists to engage in self-reflection, and to be open to finding this racism within ourselves, as well as within our temples.

With the Buddha Dharma as our guide, let us help with the work to dismantle systemic and institutionalized racism, both within ourselves and our organization and in the community around us.

Rev. Harry Gyokyo Bridge
On behalf of the Buddhist Churches of America Ministers Association