Opening with sunshine and gratitude
The sun shone down brightly on the morning of May 15, as participants and guests began arriving at Fuji Sanctuary. Many participants viewed the various booths and exhibits in the central plaza, including the special Soul of WoMen exhibit. Here, participants were invited to write down a word or phrase that they felt expresses the divine feminine. Many people were photographed holding these Soul of WoMen papers, and instant prints of these photos were displayed at the exhibit, along with photos taken at gatherings held in other parts of the world.
Ceremony staff and volunteers welcomed everyone and handed out program booklets along with a laminated flag for each participant, to use during the Prayers for Peace in Each Country. As participants and guests took their seats in the Prayer Field, the live internet broadcast began, hosted by Fumi Johns Stewart of the World Peace Prayer Society. After Ms. Stewart welcomed viewers, a slideshow introducing Fuji Sanctuary and the SOPP was shown on screen before the start of the ceremony. Ms. Stewart continued to emcee the broadcast throughout the ceremony. The full broadcast can be viewed online at bit.ly/SOPP2016.
At 10:15, the 12th annual SOPP commenced with opening remarks from Tomohiko Naya and Masami Saionji.
Tomohiko Naya, President of Byakko Shinko Kai
Welcome to the 12th annual Symphony of Peace Prayers! It gives me great pleasure to see so many of you here today. I thank you all for coming despite your busy schedules.
In the spirit of oneness of the SOPP—to pray for world peace together, transcending our religious differences—last year, we issued the Fuji Declaration from this Fuji Sanctuary to the rest of the world. At today’s ceremony, commemorating the first anniversary of the Declaration, we are sending out the message of the Soul of WoMen campaign through the SOPP global network. I firmly believe that this campaign will revive in people’s minds what humanity has forgotten for such a long time—that is, the significance, importance, and relevance of the divine feminine.
On this very important occasion, we are blessed with the participation of many distinguished guests from around the world—religious leaders, performers, and prayer colleagues, all of whom are very active in their respective fields. As we open today’s ceremony, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all of you. I would also like to thank you sincerely for your dedicated cooperation and support, both spiritual and material.
This year, although we have made the stage much simpler than in previous years, the consciousness of everyone gathered here remains as elevated as ever. How wonderful it will be if this elevated consciousness is shared by many more people, so that together we can create a world of oneness—a world of the sacred spirit.
Today’s SOPP focuses on the revival of the divine feminine, and we are linked with many different countries through our global network. In Italy, Pakistan, Malaysia, the United States, Argentina, and elsewhere, religious leaders who have traveled to Fuji Sanctuary in the past were kind enough to send us joyful messages saying that they will be holding SOPP events in their respective countries, in the spirit of the Soul of WoMen campaign.
In all the many countries that are part of the SOPP network, a great number of people have expressed their support for the Soul of WoMen campaign, joining as one with the consciousness of all of you gathered here at Fuji Sanctuary. Those who are celebrating the SOPP will undoubtedly be pioneers in living in accordance with humanity’s sacred spirit.
It is my sincere wish that the vision of this SOPP and beyond will bring great hope for the future of humanity. Thank you very much.
Masami Saionji, Chairperson of Byakko Shinko Kai
To all of you gathered here at Fuji Sanctuary, and to everyone joining us from around the world, as a result of your warm support, we are able to host the 12th annual Symphony of Peace Prayers—an event in which we transcend faith and tradition to pray in unison for the peace of the world.
Our success is due to all of you who have continued to offer your prayers here at Fuji Sanctuary, gathering outdoors even on rainy and windy days, in deep snow, and under the hot sun. Here at Fuji Sanctuary, for over 50 years we have offered only prayers of peace. Rather than being judgmental and critical, we have focused on the positive aspects of others. This sanctuary is flowing with light-filled words and thoughts. That is why we are able to offer the prayers of various religions with deep, devoted hearts.
The SOPP has expanded to a point where people in over 100 countries and more than 600 locations are participating along with us today, offering prayers for peace simultaneously around the world. Since the first SOPP in 2005, the event has spread throughout the world and has evolved into a great movement. In 2013, the Symphony of Peace Prayers was presented at the United Nations General Assembly Hall, as another huge step forward. We have been able to enjoy such miraculous expansion because of your support, as well as support from our online viewers and also from the peace-loving colleagues who have since departed from this world.
I would like to offer my deep gratitude to all our guests and participants, and all those who are connecting with us with one heart and mind around the world. I would especially like to take a moment to thank the prayer leaders who participated in the very first Symphony of Peace Prayers, which had no history or reputation at that time.
Also, over the years, many precious and noble prayer leaders and guests have come to offer their prayers for peace, and many more individuals and organizations have supported us in their regions of the world. I would like to express my gratitude to them by reading their names out loud. While I am doing so, please offer your prayers for peace and feel your connection to nature and to the world.
(A long list of individuals and organizations were thanked as their names were read aloud on stage, while the live broadcast showed a slideshow of photos from past SOPP events featuring many of the people whose names were announced. Please click here to download the list of names.)
So many people are connected with us in prayer, and we can see how the light of the SOPP is reaching more and more people around the world. As a result of their and your support, we are able to host our 12th annual ceremony today. We cannot begin to imagine how the amount of energy and the light that you have generated with each and every one of your peace prayers have fundamentally transformed the world.
On the other hand, we have not yet been freed from turmoil on a global scale. We see a world in which natural disasters, war, and struggle have not subsided—a world in which humanity is realizing that the cultures we have built are fragile and are crumbling. What are these conditions trying to convey to us? At first glance, it seems like a harsh situation without hope, but in reality, it is the opposite, because it is time that each and every one of us accepts and takes ownership of these various problems. A great opportunity has reached each and every member of humanity to embrace and awaken to their inner divine spark.
Peace will not come for as long as we continue to wait for nations, society, systems, a few wise individuals, sages, politicians, and professors to come and save us. As long as each member of humanity relies on and gives their power away to others, true peace and happiness will not manifest.
It is under such trying circumstances that the divinity which flows at the core of the human consciousness comes to awaken the way of living of each and every human being. However, the choice is up to the free will of each individual. Whether or not the world is guided toward true peace depends on the decisions and choices of each member of society. The world is dependent on what we choose—whether we choose divinity or materialism.
The existence of each individual is important, and at the same time, we each hold a great responsibility. Will each and every member of humanity choose divinity, or will humanity remain attached to the unstable reality of materialistic living? If we trust in divinity and pray, such prayers will directly connect us to our inner divine spark, and from that moment, we will awaken to divine life itself, and we will be able to experience true self-healing, calm, happiness, and freedom.
Then, every member of humanity will awaken to their divine spark, and we will know that we are deeply connected with each other at our source. When we live with this kind of consciousness, there is no separation, confrontation, or judgment, but only one focal point, as we will be connected to each other’s divine sparks. We will attain oneness, bringing stability and peace to the earth and happiness to all people.
At such a critical time, spiritually-minded women from around the world are standing up in order to open the door leading to the divine spark. At a time when humanity is ready to take a step forward to realize their divine spark, the energy of feminine wisdom is most important. This goes beyond gender equality or respect for the voices of women. What is needed is cooperation between men and women, facing issues together as members of humanity. It is to draw out the divinity which exists equally within each of us. When we each awaken to our divine spark and discover the divine spark in our family, the sparks within various circles begin to awaken, and they expand and begin transforming societies, countries, and the world.
In order to experience this vision, we chose the theme of awakening the divine feminine within the hearts of humanity for this year’s event. By focusing on this theme, we are able to plant seeds of love, forgiveness and nurturing within society. The first step toward a new future is an accumulation of tiny steps taken by each individual.
Here at the Symphony of Peace Prayers, we wish to give expression to the Fuji Declaration and the awakening of the divine feminine. Your existence, as you offer your prayers for peace, provides hope for world peace, and is light itself. Thank you for your support today.