Blue Skies and Warm Greetings
With bright sunshine beaming down on Mount Fuji and the Asagiri Highlands, participants and guests at the SOPP were greeted with spectacular views as they arrived at Fuji Sanctuary on the morning of May 20. Soft white clouds floated through the sky, and a steady wind waved the national flags and the lush green foliage.
Those arriving at the Sanctuary were greeted by staff and volunteers who distributed programs, welcomed guests, offered books and other goods for sale, and handled all sorts of tasks in preparation for the start of the program. In the central plaza, participants viewed exhibits on past SOPP events, as well as activities stemming from the Fuji Declaration and Soul of WoMen initiatives, such as the 21 Day Reverence challenge on KindSpring.org that led up to the 2016 SOPP. At another booth, participants were offered information about and instruction in the Divine SparkIN.
In the prayer field, Ms. Fumi Johns Stewart of the World Peace Prayer Society began hosting the live broadcast at 10 am, welcoming viewers and giving an introduction of the SOPP and host organization Byakko Shinko Kai. A few of the guests attending from overseas also greeted viewers online.
At 10:15, the ceremony began, with opening remarks from Tomohiko Naya and Masami Saionji, the president and chairperson of host organization Byakko Shinko Kai.
Tomohiko Naya, President of Byakko Shinko Kai
It is with deepest gratitude that I welcome all of you—prayer leaders, distinguished guests, and participants—to the 14th annual Symphony of Peace Prayers. We are also extremely grateful for the invaluable support, both material and spiritual, given by a great many people in order to hold this ceremony today.
The number of people who resonate with the power and beauty of praying together from different faiths and traditions is steadily growing, and today, SOPP events are being held all around the world in connection with our ceremony here at Fuji Sanctuary. My hope is that this growing network of prayer represents a great leap forward toward peace on earth. It is also my heartfelt wish that the SOPP lays the foundation for a shift in humanity’s consciousness toward a way of living in which all people manifest their inner sacred spirit and create a new civilization that is free of conflict and discrimination, and coexists in harmony with nature and our planet Earth.
The essence of prayer is, I believe, strongly linked to the divine spark that resides within all of us. During today’s ceremony, we will be introducing a new method for connecting with our divine spark, called the Divine Spark IN. Our hope is to share the spirit of this IN with all those who are connected with the Symphony of Peace Prayers.
We are also honored to welcome our special guest, Mr. Nimo Patel, whose music and activism have brought to children the loving heart that comes from the divine spark. At today’s SOPP, I hope that Nimo’s words and music foster an awakening of our sacred spirit, which transcends the frameworks of religion.
Lastly, I would also like to express my deep gratitude to the many people who sent messages of support and congratulations from around the world to this year’s SOPP. Thank you very much.
Masami Saionji, Chairperson of Byakko Shinko Kai
We are blessed today with great weather and a brilliant view of Mount Fuji. It is as if Mount Fuji is blessing us for gathering here. I am delighted to see so many of you gathered here from around the country and around the world. Thank you very much for travelling all the way here.
Back in 2005, we held the very first SOPP. We invited prayer leaders representing six major world religions, and everyone prayed their prayers together. Back then, it was thought that it would be impossible to do such a thing, but today, after so many years, we are gathered here to pray together, transcending differences of faith and tradition. I think you will see for yourself, when you participate today, that this is an extremely moving experience.
We have been able to realize this miracle thanks to all of you who have continued gathering here. To everyone who has enabled us to hold this SOPP year after year, I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude for your support and cooperation. Initially, almost all participants came from Japan, but today, we are delighted to welcome so many people from different countries around the world. We have also received many messages of support, through email and other means.
We are transcending both time and space in this gathering today. For some of you watching our live broadcast, it might be late in the evening or the middle of the night, but we are gathered here, both in spirit and in body, to pray together.
Fourteen years ago, the SOPP was considered to be impossible, but it was possible, and we have been able to expand the event to the extent that we see today. What I always say is that nothing is impossible—our mindset can change the world. Our mind and our spirit can make the impossible possible. We can transcend any tragedy or catastrophe.
I have always emphasized the potential that we have within us. Any issues or problems in the world do not come from others. They don’t originate outside of us. They come from within us. Within our hearts, there are anxieties, discontent, vanity, greed, competitiveness, and the desire to possess more and more. These are the source of all the world’s problems, and they all come from within us. The issue is not differences among countries, peoples, or religions. It is not discrimination or persecution. It is the consciousness that resides within each and every one of us.
Peace is not given to us by an external God, nor is it something that we can take away from others. Rather, it comes from the awakening within us of our divinity. I believe that every being on the face of this earth is precious. All life is precious—the lives of refugees, and the lives of terrorists. Every one of us has to rise above our egocentric way of thinking and shift to an altruistic approach, in which we contribute to and make a difference for the wellbeing of others. That will lead us to affirm the divinity that we all have within ourselves—our divine spark.
We must make sure that we do not repeat the tragedies of wars, disasters, pollution, and so on. This negative legacy must not be passed on to future generations. These are all things of the past. What has happened cannot be changed. Maybe some of us are still caught up in things that happened in the past. Maybe some of us are still fixated on the past. But we cannot change what has already happened.
What we can change is our mindset, our viewpoint, and our vision for the future. We can have hope for the future, and with that, things will change. Maybe we are facing anxiety. But when we focus on our hopes for the future, our destiny, our environment, and everything can be changed. We need to bring our minds together in order to bring about a new spiritual civilization. We need to treasure each life and help each other to treasure life.
For over 50 years, I have dedicated myself to this. What I have learned is that, although our individual power may seem small, when we combine our efforts and our power, it is strong enough to change the world. To those of you who are here for the very first time, please join us in praying with the religions of the world and praying for peace in each country. You will find that, just by doing this, your energy is sent out to every corner of the globe as light.
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for coming all the way to join us at the 2018 Symphony of Peace Prayers. I look forward to enjoying today’s ceremony with all of you. Thank you.