Yuka Saionji, Deputy Chairperson of Byakko Shinko Kai
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for attending the ninth annual Symphony of Peace Prayers. Every year, the SOPP has been growing and spreading across the world from Fuji Sanctuary. This year, the SOPP is being held in over 104 places in more than 50 countries.
At the same time, it feels like the world is coming to Fuji Sanctuary as well. We feel so blessed and so privileged to have such wonderful leaders and guests from all around the world to be with us here. And their reason for coming is simply to offer their prayers for peace, transcending religion and nationality. This year, especially, it seems like we are coming even more into our name—Symphony of Peace Prayers—because we really felt the harmony of music and prayer together, which is absolutely beautiful.
As was said in the opening remarks, in February of this year, we were able to host an SOPP at the United Nations General Assembly Hall, which was a historic event for everyone. Until now, offering a specific prayer or using prayer was not allowed in the General Assembly Hall. But this time, peace prayers were offered by more than ten religious leaders, and the vibration of prayer was sent from within the General Assembly Hall out to the world. That was the opening of a new world—or, at least, it felt that way to me.
There have been a lot of reasons behind this miracle, but surely, one of them exists in the work of the prayer leaders who have come up on this stage at Fuji Sanctuary to offer their prayers, from the time we started this event. It was the first time for all of them to do this, but they offered their prayers in the belief that, in the end, all prayers are one, and that there is no conflict in praying for each other, through each other’s prayers.
Another reason is the power of all of you, who have been sitting in the Prayer Field to offer your prayers. Without each one of you praying together with the prayer leaders, the SOPP would not have been possible. The pure heart and mind that accepted the idea of praying together with each religion and faith tradition have created a shift, even at the United Nations. The heart and mind that had no doubts and no fear, and accepted that all prayers are beautiful, have made the SOPP possible. Because every one of you has believed in and brought life to these prayers, the SOPP became the SOPP. When we let go of the idea that only my religion, my belief, or my way is pure, right, and true, then something bigger, something deeper, goes through our bodies, and the experience of oneness manifests.
I was so moved and honored today to witness Ambassador Mussie presenting a medal to the prayer colleagues of Byakko Shinko Kai, and to everyone who has sat on this ground for the past nine years, to create this symphony together. Because of their prayers, their being, and their true wish for peace, this has been possible, and I was so happy that they, too, were acknowledged.
Through the SOPP, we go back to our original selves—to our original connection and way of being with each other—and we bring oneness through prayer. Every one of you here today has taught me this truth, again and again, on this field. Lastly, I would like to express my deepest gratitude and respect to all the amazing, wonderful prayer leaders here today, and to our honored guests and youth participants, who have joined us with their beautiful hearts and minds. My deepest gratitude to all of you sitting here, to our staff, our prayer colleagues, our volunteers, and to the people connecting with us worldwide through the internet. With your prayers, this sacred space is created, and with your presence, this event is made possible. On behalf of Byakko Shinko Kai, I would like to send our deepest gratitude to everyone here today, and to all the others who are creating this beautiful symphony together. Thank you very much. May peace prevail on Earth.
The flag bearers returned to the stage, with the Earth flag at center and the national flags joining from either side. Accompanied by Mr. Yamamoto’s rapturous music, they poured out from the stage into the Prayer Field, filling the field with color and rousing enthusiastic applause from the participants and guests. From the aisles, the flag bearers turned to face the stage, their flags waving in unison. The final flag bearers stayed on stage, creating a formation to welcome back the Earth flag. Finally, the Earth flag alone was held aloft on stage, where it was slowly turned around to face all directions. As the music reached a crescendo, all the flags were lifted high in celebration. For the ninth consecutive year, the Symphony of Peace Prayers ceremony was carried out with great success.