A roman saying “A rolling stone gathers no moss” has been well-known over the past centuries. It was used and quoted in many countries and was also translated into Japanese. The meaning of this saying is very simple however depending on the countries, the meaning of this saying can be quite different.
In Japan, for most Japanese, moss is a symbol of natural beauty especially found in the Japanese garden. The dark green of the moss in the garden gives us strong impression of the depth of the beauty and Japanese garden without moss cannot be good. And because moss can be increasing a lot, it also represents fortune. Therefore, a rolling stone which brings no moss is regarded as something bad. An example of rolling stone can be “to change jobs” and moving. If you are changing jobs a lot or moving places in Japan, you will be told “a rolling stone gathers no moss” which means you won’t get fortune. So traditionally Japanese people don’t move places from here to there. Also they try not to change jobs.
On the other hand, here in the united states, “moss” is usually understood as “unnecessary thing” or “something dirty.” Therefore a rolling stone which brings no moss is actually very good. Especially because USA consists of so many immigrants from so many foreign countries and also development of the West was made by moving, “moving” is considered to be great. Also changing jobs in the US, is quite common to seek for the better life.
Is moving good or bad? I’ve been thinking this question because I’ve been here on Kauai for 20 years while many other Buddhist ministers moved to serve other temples in the past 20 years.
Good thing about staying here for a long time is definitely a bond with our members, friends and community. I feel Kauai is my hometown and members are Ohana or family. At the same time, I believe I’ve gotten their trust. In a sense, to stay one place for a longer time makes it possible to deepen the relationship. Also no-moving saves money and energy. Staying in one place is very stable but there are of course bad things about no-moving for a long time. At the same time, Just like American understanding of “A rolling stone gathers no moss” there are also good things about moving. That’s why other Buddhist schools move ministers from time to time. Moving costs much more but ministers get more stimulations and become motivated by moving. And members are maybe also happier to have a different minister every certain years.
I haven’t had an answer yet whether I should continue my life here or move but at least I decided to challenge to seek for a change when I was nominated to be next Bishop of Hawaii Council of Jodo Missions. Fortunately, officers and members of Jodo Mission are very supportive and flexible. Their kind words made me accept a nomination and will serve as a Bishop of Hawaii Council of Jodo Missions for the next two years. I will be going back and forth to Oahu for the time being.
Honestly speaking, I wished Rev. Koji Ezaki to continue to be Bishop since he has done excellent jobs for Hawaii Jodo shu including 125th Anniversary Celebration after Bishop Narashiba’s passing. This was the most sad and difficult time in the history of Hawaii Jodo Shu but Rev. Ezaki fulfilled unfinished projects which Bishop Narashiba wanted to do. Since my first arrival at Jodo Mission in 1997, Rev. Ezaki has been such a hard working minister and I’ve learned a lot from him. I asked him to be Bishop again and again but his thinking was rigid because of Mrs. Ezaki’s health.
As I take new position, I’d like to express my deepest appreciation to all the past Bishops, ministers and members for everything they have done for Jodo Shu. Without them all, I wouldn’t be what I am today.
Last but not least, I have a favor to ask you. Please continue to call me “Sensei” or “Kosen” or whatever you currently call me. Please try not to call me “Bishop.” I’m a newly elected Bishop but “Bishop Ishikawa” sounds very strange! Anyway, your continued support will be greatly appreciated.