The Golden Chain is a beloved gatha within North American Shin or Pure Land Buddhist communities, especially those associated with the Buddhist Churches of America.
I am a link in Amida Buddha’s golden chain of love that stretches around the world. In gratitude may I keep my link bright and strong.
I will try to be kind and gentle to every living thing and protect all who are weaker than myself.
I will try to think pure and beautiful thoughts to say pure and beautiful words, and to do pure and beautiful deeds.
May every link in Amida Buddha’s golden chain of love be bright and strong and may we all attain perfect peace.
We thank the Buddha for showing us the way of freedom.
We will endeavor to walk in his noble path, everyday of our lives.
The Golden Chain was composed by Dorothy Poulton Hunt, wife of Ernest Shinkaku Hunt.
The Hunts were convert Buddhist pioneers, who immigrated to Hawaii from their native England in 1915. As near as I can tell, they did this principally to live in a community that had a significant Buddhist population. Once there they threw themselves into the Shin Buddhist community. Her husband, Earnest became a popular speaker. Both, near as I can tell, were ordained. Although I’ve learned one needs to be careful when one sees that word, as it covers a multitude of sins.
A google search reveals very little about Dorothy. While I’ve found a couple of pictures of her husband, I was unable to find one of her. I did stumble on an obituary for her daughter, Dorothy Poulton Hunt Gillis who died in 2016 at the age of ninety-seven. For fifty years she, the younger Dorothy, led the Island Paradise Academy in Kaimuki. The obituary notes that the school was founded by her mother who led it from the 1030s until her retirement in the 1060s.
Dorothy senior was a poet, and a number of her poems were set to music and became early English language Buddhist hymns. The Golden Chain appears to be the one that has continued on to this day. It was used in religious education programming, and so generations have now grown up with it in the back of their hearts.
Here’s a reflection on the Golden Chain and its continued use by the Reverend Fredrich Ulrich.
And, in these two clips, the Reverend David Matsumoto of the Berkeley Buddhist Temple addresses the Golden Chain.
Finally, here’s a teen band giving us a musical benediction using the tune closely associated with the Golden Chain.