Planting Seeds of Peace
Before the close of the SOPP, participants welcomed this year’s musical guest, Mr. Nimesh “Nimo” Patel. Having graduated from Wharton Business School and then achieved fame as a rap star on MTV, Nimo gave up everything to seek meaning and purpose in his life. He moved to India, where he helped to serve the underprivileged communities near Gandhi Ashram. Most recently, Nimo has reconnected with his musical roots and is offering his gift of love, peace, and oneness throughout the world through his songs and concerts: an offering he calls Empty Hands Music (emptyhandsmusic.org).
Before speaking, Nimo bowed deeply to the participants and prayed, May peace prevail on Earth.
Nimesh “Nimo” Patel, Hip-hop artist
First, I want to share my gratitude for Masahisa Goi (founder of Byakko Shinko Kai), for Masami Saionji and her family, and for all of you, for committing your life energy to this powerful, beautiful, and necessary work. Thank you all, for giving us this opportunity to help heal the world and heal our own hearts together. I am just an ambassador for our planet, like all of us are. Each of the seven billion of us on this planet are ambassadors. Thank you for the humble honor of being here today.
I wanted to share with you the large impact that your prayers are having. I am sharing the impact on my life, but in the same way, you are impacting millions and millions of people’s lives. Whenever I spend time with children in different schools around the world, the first thing I like to show them is a picture of planet Earth. I tell them, “Do you know what I say when people ask me where I’m from? Planet Earth! And where are you from?” And the children start laughing because they realize, “Oh, yeah, we’re all from planet Earth!”
This is the ripple effect of your prayers. Ever since I learned about the SOPP and all the work you are doing, it has really gotten into my heart that I am an Earth guardian—that we are all Earth guardians. Your work, your prayers, and your love have infiltrated the planet. Everywhere I go around the world, I turn a corner, and I see a peace pole. I go to another part of the planet, I go to another sacred place, and I see another peace pole.
The most beautiful experience has been in India, where I live. In January, we inaugurated a peace pole in Gandhi Ashram, where Mahatma Gandhi used to live one hundred years ago. He opened it in 1918, and in 2018, Masami and Yuka Saionji came and helped inaugurate a peace pole in one of the most sacred sites in India. Now, within a big tree trunk in Gandhi Ashram, it says ‘May peace prevail on Earth.’
In the Fuji Declaration, it is shared that we are divine sparks. And with each prayer of ours, we see that another candle is being lit. The way that change will happen, as was shared earlier today, is one candle at a time, and one spark at a time. This is your work, and it is so powerful.
I want to share a brief story about the Dalai Lama. He was in Mumbai, India, riding in a car. A lot of security guards travel with the Dalai Lama, so he was in one car with many cars in front of him and many cars behind him. As his car was driving along the busy streets of Mumbai, he saw, on the left hand side, a dog being beaten and kicked by another human being. It was being beaten to death. At that moment, the Dalai Lama could not stop the cars. He later shared that what he did was to start crying and praying. But he said that he was not only praying for the dog. He was also praying for the man who was killing the dog.
This is the work that we are all doing. This prayer has no end. It’s the most powerful tool we have. We must act locally and serve locally, but we have to pray globally, and share our love in this way.
A man named Nelson Henderson once shared a beautiful saying. He said, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit”—to plant trees whose fruit you do not expect to eat. What we are doing here, praying for the love of the world and of humanity—not praying only for ourselves, but praying far beyond that—is prayer for which we don’t expect anything in return.
This is the purity that creates strength in the prayer—to pray without expectation, to know, as Masami-san shared, that the seeds that we are planting through our prayers may not heal the world right now, or tomorrow. But we still have to plant these seeds, because we want our children to have a better tomorrow. The seeds that we plant through our prayers on this planet, right now, will bloom. When we boil water, it gets very hot, but we cannot see it. Then, all of a sudden, it starts boiling. This is what is happening with us—we are praying, we are serving, we are loving, and we may not see the fruits right away. But we must have deep faith that underneath it all, it’s boiling—that the seeds are starting to sprout underneath the ground. It may grow while we are around, or when we are not.
I want to share a song with you today that, to me, represents this movement and the life we are all living—a life of planting seeds from which we do not expect to receive the return, the fruit. We keep praying because we know, in our hearts, that it’s the right thing—not because we think that we have to heal the world. We know that, in our hearts, just like Masahisa Goi, in a pure-hearted space, we offer and we don’t expect return.
The song I want to share with you is called “Planting Seeds.” The song’s message is exactly that. Can we live a life to offer ourselves as instruments—to offer ourselves through our prayers and our service—but also to let go, and let the divine take over? To surrender, and not control? To keep doing our part until we leave this planet—to keep praying, to keep offering our heart and our love, without expecting anything in return?
Before beginning the song, Nimo showed participants a series of hand gestures to accompany the song’s chorus. Then, the music began and Nimo performed his song “Planting Seeds,” guiding participants to join in during the chorus.
Words and music by Nimesh Patel and Daniel Nahmod
I spent a long time runnin’
I never knew then what I know I know now,
That the fruits they always comin’
But you can’t go around just knockin’ them down
It takes a long time to showin’
We plant the seeds then, and we look at them now,
But the roots are always growin’
No matter if I’m there or never around…
Whatever grows will grow
Whatever dies will die
Whatever works will work
Whatever flies will fly
Whatever fails will fail
What’s meant to soar will soar
I am planting seeds, nothing more
It’s like your whole life you’ve been training for this moment
And when the time comes you just disown it,
Meaning you just surrender, don’t control it,
Not interested in the clay pots and moldin’
Or sitting next to the path, tryin’ to unfold it
Or waiting for the fruits to fall down toward ya’
You let it go and now your flowing feeling quite gorgeous
So you take steps away instead of towards it,
What a rush, feeling freedom with nothing to hold
We’ve been taught that what you touch will always turn to gold
But now we’re learning when we let it go, it overflows
With no credit to take cuz no credit is owned
A higher power working deeper when the seeds are sowed
And when the seeds are true, then they’re seeds of gold
But the real gold is joy, when life starts to flow
And when it does, you just smile, cuz now you know!
(Repeat Intro and Chorus)
I feel so humbled and honored to be here with all of you, and to know that we are all here to continue to work. We’re here to continue to work until we leave. Our work is to pray. Our work is to love. Our work is to serve each other, and serve all of humankind. These are the seeds that we will selflessly plant, without expecting anything, because we know that this is our life.
On behalf of all of the guests from outside of Japan, I want to share with you that your seeds are blooming all across the world. There are trees and jungles and forests of love, service, hope, freedom, and joy, because of the prayers that we are doing here, from a pure heart. May we continue to work with a pure heart, expecting nothing, giving everything. Thank you very much.
Before departing, Nimo asked participants to pray May peace prevail on Earthtogether with him. They repeated the prayer three times, and Nimo again bowed deeply before exiting the stage. Byakko Deputy Chairperson Yuka Saionji then returned to the stage to make a closing address.
Yuka Saionji, Chairperson of Byakko Shinko Kai
Thank you so much for joining in our 14th annual Symphony of Peace Prayers. Thank you to all the prayer leaders for their beautiful prayers, to the guest speakers for their wonderful, powerful speeches, to all our guests and all of you here at Fuji Sanctuary, to the people in 57 places from 23 countries hosting SOPP events in their area, and to everyone watching our live stream, thank you all so much.
Now, our event is coming to an end, after the beautiful song performed by Nimo, and with our hearts full of oneness. Singing, dancing, sending gratitude and love—they are all prayers. One of our guests today told me a quote from a book, which is, “Any of your actions becomes a prayer when you do it from your heart.” My heart resonated with those words instantly.
In the world today, with all the news and circumstances that we witness and hear every day, we tend to want to close our hearts. The world moves based on our heads. We calculate our gains, we judge others with our minds… at a time like this, our hearts are often left aside. To feel and move from our hearts—this simple act can seem so difficult at this time. So, what we need today is an open heart—a heart that can be open in any circumstances, any difficulties, and any suffering that may come our way.
When others move from their minds, may we stop and open our hearts. But it is so difficult to do this alone. There are times when we want to close our hearts, too, or want to stop feeling. But we have each other to keep going, which is our greatest gift. When I have doubts about the future, when my heart is taken by fear, the people who are here are the ones who help me back. When my heart starts to close, your prayers and this prayer field are what give me hope.
There are people like Barbara Arredondo and Dr. Shlomo Alon, who spoke so deeply and who understand what we do so well—maybe even more than we do. Or people like Nimo Patel, who has been planting all these seeds and giving us so much courage. These are the people who help us open our hearts again.
When we are surrounded by pure prayer, our hearts yearn to open up. To pray with an open heart gives life to our prayers. And those prayers help us to open other hearts, and make spaces to welcome others in our hearts. Even when it seems like a disaster outside, when the world seems to fall apart, may we open our hearts and keep praying for others.
May peace be in all the hearts of the world. Thank you very much.
The SOPP concluded with a joyful finale, in which the national flag bearers formed an arrangement of flags on the stage, and then proceeded into the aisles of the prayer field, surrounded by the robust applause of the participants. A sweeping and bold musical score accompanied the parade of flags. Finally, all the flag bearers had made their way into the prayer field, with only the Earth flag remaining on stage. During the finale, Fumi Johns Stewart, MC for the video broadcast, greeted viewers once more. “We have co-created a resonant field of love, harmony, and compassion here at Mount Fuji, together with all of you watching us live,” she said. “Please join us, each and every one of you, in sending your prayers out to the world, to every corner of the earth, with the prayer May peace prevail on Earth.” With a jubilant musical climax and continued applause, the flags of the world were raised high in the air, bringing the fourteenth Symphony of Peace Prayers to a close.