Impressions from Participants
Following the 2020 Symphony of Peace Prayers, the prayer leaders and many people around the world who took part in the online ceremony sent us their impressions and experiences. We are pleased to share some of these with our readers.
I was watching and listening throughout the whole thing, and I’m really glad I had the chance to do so. I had it on in the background while I was doing my housework and morning chores, and it was awesome to listen to all the prayers, to Masami Saionji, and to Yuka, Rika, and Maki Saionji.
Thank you all so much for bringing the world together in such beautiful ways, and for giving us all a chance to really think about each other as family. I always find it so powerful when we start saying “peace” in all the different languages and saying each country’s name—I think it’s so deeply moving to see that togetherness.
Nimo Patel (USA),
Musical guest at 2018 and 2020 SOPP ceremonies
I watched the program, and it was beautiful. I love what you are doing and hope to come back to Japan one day soon.
James Twyman (USA),
Musical guest at 2016 and 2020 SOPP ceremonies
Greetings of peace! What a great way to start a Sunday, watching the SOPP live on the internet all the way from Japan! It was a very thrilling and spiritually uplifting ceremony, as we see that the entire world is going through so much pain, suffering, uncertainty and social distance. You have united us all by holding this ceremony, praying for the whole world and offering peace for each country by holding its national flag and praying for peace in its national language. I cannot express enough in words how beautiful the ceremony was, especially keeping in mind the present situation of Covid-19. Thank you very much!
Thanks to Mr. Hiroo Saionji and Mrs. Masami Saionji for your very beautiful, inspiring, and moving messages. It was so wonderful to be reminded of the divine spark and the Fuji Declaration.
I know it was not the usual public ceremony, with a huge number of people from so many different religions and countries gathered at Fuji Sanctuary. I missed being there physically. But I was with you spiritually, and I am confident that God will provide an opportunity to be there physically in the future. Thanks also to Mr. Tomohiko Naya and all the others who made this extraordinary ceremony possible!
May Peace Prevail on Earth! May Peace Prevail in Japan! May Peace Prevail in Pakistan!
Fr James Channan OP (Pakistan),
Prayer leader at the 2010 SOPP ceremony
and guest speaker at the 2007 and 2019 SOPP ceremonies
It was such a joy to see the whole team reading the opening statement with Masami Sensei, and to witness the prayers. This morning, I preached in a local church and spoke of the SOPP.
I offer my profound gratitude for your leadership and service, and for the flame of peace and transformation you help keep burning. May light and love pervade and prevail.
Rev. Canon Charles P. Gibbs (USA),
Prayer leader at 2012 and 2015 SOPP ceremonies
It was a wonderful ceremony. Everyone did an amazing job putting this together online. I particularly enjoyed seeing and praying with the prayer leaders in their churches, temples, and places of worship. It put another dimension into the event. Thank you, Masami Sensei and the beautiful shining lights of Yuka, Maki and Rika, for your heartfelt sharing of this event with the world. Perfectly Accomplished!
Silvana Bennachio (Australia)
I was very grateful and happy to be able to participate with you in this encounter of light, peace and love. I prayed with you from Palma de Mallorca, Spain. May Peace Prevail on Earth. Infinite Peace!
Yolanda Blázquez (Spain)
It was a very beautiful ceremony, with solemn grace, harmony, and beauty. I felt so united in our prayers, moving across the world—a very special SOPP 2020.
The prayers of the religious leaders touched my heart, as well as the messages of hope and wake up calls from the Fuji Declaration. I loved the music and the images and videos that accompanied all the various programs—it added so much. Nimo was great, too—he brought tears to my eyes.
My infinite, deep gratitude to Masami Saionji and her family for their inspiring, loving, wise and warm guidance. Infinite gratitude to all the staff at Fuji Sanctuary!
All was perfect and accomplished!
Nicole Cressiot (France)
What a resounding success was SOPP 2020! There were times when my heart expanded so much, I just cried and cried. This happened early on with Yuka Saionji’s introduction, even without an English translation. The same happened at times with Masami Saionji’s speech, too. Mr. Naya radiated joyful love and oneness! I could feel light flowing from him, expanding heart love as he gave his speech. The Shinto chanting really affected my heart chakra too; it felt very natural.
You are all to be congratulated for the effort and love given to producing this engaging program—Masami Sensei, Hiroo Sensei, their three magical daughters, and all the staff at Byakko!
I loved seeing the prayer leaders ‘on location,’ so to speak. Everything else was such a magnificent flow, with brilliant visuals, both pictures and writing and musical accompaniment to the continent visuals and flag presentations. It was also a joy to see so many staff presenting the flags and to hear Stano reading the name of each country; my heart again overflowed. James Twyman and Nimo Patel were also wonderful.
I love you all, and realized more fully today how I miss seeing and being with you! May the time come again soon.
Jenny Funston (Australia)
At Hovea Ashram, our usual SOPP venue, we joined in the SOPP 2020 online event, and what a different but very special experience it was. We commented on how very powerful and nurturing this new format was, and how much we all learned from the experience.
What stood out to me was that, although at times we did not understand the words that were being spoken, our hearts certainly understood. The strength and commitment to peace on earth of the presenters was very tangible, and was a gift to experience.
We were also blessed to have our very own flag booklet, which was created by Ava and Nathan George, our 12 and 10 year old grandchildren. It has some amazing artwork by Ava included. It was also a pleasure to sit with them while the booklet was being created, and to see the love and commitment to peace that went into it.
Following the program, we shared good food, good company, and our personal experiences of the SOPP. How blessed we are to have the gift that SOPP is!
Elaine George (Australia)
I loved the music. I loved seeing the familiar faces—it gave me a real sense of being back at Fuji Sanctuary. I had a feeling of deeper connection and focus, as there was not the distraction of leading a group or even being with others.
In the message from Yuka, Maki, and Rika Saionji (that appears in the program guide), I loved the analogy of fireweed, which blooms with beautiful purplish/pink flowers as it brings new life to different regions where Mother Earth is desolate, her life force interrupted by the mistaken acts of humans. Fireweed is a pioneer plant that allows for an awakening to new life, just as we awakened beings share our divine nature for new growth in new areas. I held a vision of a beautiful carpet of ‘prayer flowers’ surrounding the planet throughout the ceremony. Thank you, Yuka, Maki, and Rika, for this beautiful, hopeful message.
Rosalind Gregg (Australia)
Thanks for the beautiful ceremony. It was such a blessing to see all the peace messages and the engagement of all who did the work, both on screen and behind the scenes.
Infinite love and light.
Sylvia Johannsen (Denmark)
Thanks for all the great work! I am so pleased to be part of this peaceful, loving family. This is a terrible time where we surely need peace and inner strength to keep us going. I watched the recorded broadcast online, and by myself, prayed for peace to all in the world. Thanks, and much gratitude. May peace prevail on Earth!
Fremma Emannuel Kibibi (Uganda)
Congratulations! We know you worked very hard for the SOPP this year. The Byakko staff did an amazing job putting everything together. It was nice to see many of the staff on screen, knowing that even more of you were working behind the scenes. We know it wasn’t easy, having to switch your plans from the usual live event to an online gathering.
All of the videos were excellent—so professional and beautiful to watch. While we missed hearing all the voices joining in all the different prayers (as happens in a live event), we really liked seeing the prayer leaders in their own locations. That added something new.
We really liked the way you performed the flag ceremony. Very creative! It looked super on screen. We loved the flags presented with the map in the background, and the video of Yuka, Maki, and Rika Saionji together with the large map shown in between sections. Beautiful! We also loved hearing all of you say “peace” together in each language after the country’s name was announced.
It was a pleasure to watch and listen to Masami Sensei, Hiroo Sensei and their three daughters. Mr. Naya also did a great job. The English captions were very helpful, of course! Everyone gave a very light and bright feeling. It was very interesting to see how Masami Sensei’s energy seems to come right through the screen.
Overall, we think Symphony of Peace Prayers 2020 was a very beautiful and moving event. We were glad to participate. It’s marvelous that so many people were able to join and to watch the recording.
Jennifer Kim (USA)
This is a very special time, with the coronavirus pandemic, and most of us around the world must stay at home and we can’t gather together.
It was a great joy to be online with the participants, prayer leaders, and speakers in this year’s SOPP. For me, the ceremony started very early, at 4am Warsaw time. But it was great to be with the Saionji family and the Byakko staff members, even in that virtual space. Masami Saionji’s words always touch me deeply. I enjoyed participating in the prayers of many religious leaders. In particular, chanting the Buddhist Heart Sutra, led by a monk from the Sotoshu Zen sect, warmed my heart and reminded me of my visits to many Japanese Zen temples.
When I participated in the flag ceremony, I noticed that Mr. Tomohiko Naya, the President of Byakko Shinko Kai, presented the Polish flag. It made me cry, and I felt deep appreciation to all the participants online around the globe for their prayers for peace and harmony.
I felt that this year’s ceremony, coming in this difficult time for all of us, is a blessing for all and a real transformation for all humanity. May peace prevail on Earth.
Jacek Kozłowski (Poland)
Unlike in past years, when I did a lot of coordination with various peace and interfaith personalities and organizations in the Philippines, this year, I celebrated the SOPP on my own, and virtually with peace and interfaith friends. I missed the physical presence of friends and family praying and doing the ceremony together, sharing songs, music, poetry, mandala arts, speeches, food, warm embraces, and gracious handshakes. Nonetheless, I felt a deep connection with everyone on the spiritual plane—that we were all interconnected and interlinked with our thoughts, consciousness, and prayers for a better, peaceful, sustainable, and safer world. Now, more than ever, I appreciated the essence of the SOPP, the Fuji Declaration, and Soul of WoMen, on both a local and global scale.
In the live-stream video, the accompanying music was very soothing to the ear, while the peaceful scenery and all of the individuals who appeared on screen uplifted the spirit to think and feel peace. The following nuggets of wisdom have touched me and left a great impression on me:
This global pandemic hastens our awakening to grow more spiritually. It provided an opportunity to be deeply in touch with who we really are—spiritual beings who were lovingly created to be in constant dialogue with the universal God, with creation, with others, and with ourselves.
The welcoming address from Masami Saionji had a particularly strong impact on me. I was also struck by the words of Hiroo Saionji when he shared some thoughts from well-known personalities like Dr. Ervin Laszlo, Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Bruce Lipton, and Dr. Jane Goodall. Many of the world’s indigenous peoples, who have always been close to the land and have been protecting our forests and seas, have affirmed what these individuals have mentioned.
Dr. Jane Goodall is a kindred spirit among us. I have admired her research and passion to save wild chimpanzees, stirring folks to safeguard the ecological milieu we all share. Inspired by her work, my family and I are eating locally produced foods, clearing untended farm lands, planting seeds and seedlings, and landscaping peace gardens.
As I go to the garden and walk the rice paddies, it gives me the opportunity to know myself more profoundly, to make a shift from the usual grind of busy life in the city to a life of solitude in a farming community. I agree with Mr. Saionji, that we either take the road to our downfall or carry ourselves to a breakthrough.
Genevieve Balance Kupang (Philippines)
The Divine Spark IN is ever present in my mind and heart! I was very glad to see the beginning and also a small part of the flag ceremony. Lovely to see some familiar faces! It was beautiful and sunny here, and yet I imagined a gentle rain falling on Fuji Sanctuary. Even though I couldn’t understand what the Byakko Shinko Kai team read, my eyes filled with tears and my heart felt very open. It was great to have the translation of Masami Sensei’s speech, even though my vision was blurred with tears. Thank you all for such a wonderful presentation.
Dot Lyons (Australia)
I tuned in at 4:05 am UK time, just before the flag ceremony, and thought that what I saw was very good. I liked the didgeridoo music for Oceania. The best part was listening to what Masami Sensei had to say. She is always a radiant presence and always says something of great value.
Mark Menezes (UK)
Thank you for the great job you did with SOPP 2020. Thanks to Masami Saionji, Hiroo Saionji, Rika, Yuka and Maki Saionji, and to all the staff of Byakko.
Infinite Love and Power. May peace prevail on Earth.
Saulius Mikutis (Lithuania)
Thank you very much for organizing such a nice gathering of light energy, especially in such circumstances. I felt an appeasing, calm, and harmonizing energy during the ceremony. This is very encouraging for our own personal development, and for spreading vibrations of peace all around us!
May peace prevail on Earth. May our missions be accomplished.
Jacques Muguruza (France)
I was very happy to participate in the SOPP 2020 YouTube live stream from Fuji Sanctuary! In our SOPP ceremony held later in the day, we used some of the video from the Fuji Sanctuary broadcast, including the flag ceremony and the prayer of Gratitude to Nature. Thank you all!
Vito Palladino (Italy)
This SOPP was so special and blessed! Infinite gratitude to Masami Sensei and her enlightened family! Infinite gratitude to all the Byakko prayer colleagues. It was beautiful and perfect! Infinite gratitude to all participants around the world! Infinite love, light, peace, and harmony for the earth!
Helga Dias Rayol (Brazil)
On the day of the SOPP I felt very sleepy, and I could only join for half of the ceremony. But a few days later, I had the chance to see the entire ceremony. It was really amazing and so touching, down to every single detail.
I loved hearing the message at the beginning, read by the Saionji family and the directors. It was so moving, even though I don’t understand Japanese. It was incredible to see Masami Sensei’s speech with English subtitles. I was able to feel what she was saying in all the cells of my body.
I loved the messages and songs of Nimo Patel and James Twyman.
The flag ceremony performed by the board of directors and staff, along with the prayers of Yuka, Maki, and Rika Saionji, was so beautiful and powerful. I was vibrating love, pure light, and happiness.
Thank you very much for this amazing and wonderful online SOPP.
Andrea J. Solana (Argentina)
The SOPP production was so lovely. Everything was planned out beautifully, and I thought that the interfaith prayers were perfect—short and on target! Loved it. It was especially nice to see all the staff as flag bearers, too. Congratulations to all!
Fumi Johns Stewart (USA)
Congratulations! It was a beautiful ceremony, full of grace, lightness and love—a collaboration of harmony and creativity. Infinite gratitude to all on the screen and off!
Caroline Uchima (UK)
Thank you to all for your amazing work to create this successful event. This was a wonderful and deeply moving SOPP. I felt very touched by the words of Masami Sensei, and I really enjoyed the way you put the program together, with great photos and dynamic videos. I loved the way you did the prayers of gratitude to nature and the prayers for each country. I did not experience any fatigue, even though it ended at 11 pm where I live. I felt very energized and happy, filled with light and pure hope and joy.
The parts that left a strong impression on me were Masami Sensei’s speech and the prayers of different religions. Seeing the prayer leaders in their actual religious setting was very powerful and moving. I felt motivated to do the prayers, and the words came naturally. I especially liked seeing the prayers for Shintoism and Buddhism—these really left an impression on me. The bell in the Buddhist prayer was particularly powerful. All of the prayers left beautiful images in my mind.
I also liked that, for the prayers for peace in each country, we said the word ‘peace’ in that country’s language(s). It was so simple, and I felt motivated to join.
I look forward to watching this event again.
Diane Elizabeth Vanaria (USA)
Absolutely wonderful! So precious! Coming together as one via the internet, speaking in all the world’s languages, praying together and proclaiming our divinity strengthens the emission of our divine spark. I was moved to tears several times, and I felt embraced by all the love and light.
Thank you so much for creating this beautiful experience—all of you!
Gail White (USA)