Praying with the Religions of the World

As music filled the Prayer Field, prayer leaders from six different faiths were introduced on stage to lead participants in prayers from their respective religious traditions. This simple yet profound act of sharing in prayers from a variety of faiths is at the core of the Symphony of Peace Prayers ceremony, and it sends a powerful message of tolerance and unity for peace.

One by one, the prayer leaders took center stage, addressing participants with a personal message and then continuing with their respective prayers for peace.


Mr. Riten Tanaka

Mr. Riten Tanaka is the abbot of Kinpusen-ji, the head temple of the Shugendô Buddhist sect. Born in Kyoto Prefecture in 1955, he entered monastic life in 1971 and began serving at Kinpusen-ji in 1981, becoming abbot of the temple in 2001.

Presently, Mr. Tanaka serves as Deputy Secretary of the Council of Three Sacred Sites in the Kii Mountain Range, Trustee of the Japan Buddhist Federation, and Trustee of the Sangaku Shugen Academic Society. He is also Chairperson of the Council to Preserve the Forests of the Kii Peninsula, a nonprofit organization.

Mr. Tanaka was involved in advocating the inclusion of the Yoshino Omine region in the Kii Mountain Range UNESCO World Heritage Site. He is also active in protecting these sites, and helped establish the Council for the Preservation of the Omine Okugake Michi and the Council of Three Sacred Sites in the Kii Mountain Range.

Following Mr. Tanaka’s prayer, three priests from Kinpusen-ji, Mr. Kousei Sakai, Mr. Yuten Ito, and Mr. Chikaku Nishikawa, performed sacred music on conch shells, before and after a special invocation by Mr. Tanaka.


My name is Riten Tanaka. I came from Kinpusen-ji, the head temple of the Shugendô faith, in Yoshinoyama, Nara Prefecture. Since the massive earthquake and tsunami that occurred in the Tohoku region on March 11, the country has faced a national crisis, and the situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant still remains uncertain. However, we will not lose hope. With a peace-loving mind and a spirit of great harmony, Japan will come together as one, and I believe that we will rebuild and revive our country. It is my sincere wish that Japan will be able to return the support and aid we are receiving from around the world by rebuilding the country and contributing to peace on Earth. With this in mind, I have brought a ‘message of prayer for peace’ from the Shugendô faith. It is indeed a great pleasure and honor for me to participate in the seventh Symphony of Peace Prayers event here with you today.


Message of Prayer for World Peace (spoken by all in Japanese)

We human beings are inhabitants of this Earth.

On Earth, and in all creation, we human beings are neither above nor below other beings. All beings and all lives exist equally in this world.

However, we human beings have forgotten this truth, mistakenly thinking that life is only about fulfilling our desires. As a result, we have turned our backs on the world of nature.

We gain wealth and abundance by looking down on and doing harm to beings whose lives are equally precious.

We discriminate against people based on their religion, race, history, culture, and other trivial matters, leading us to despise, oppress, and humiliate others, and even to kill.

As a result, we have brought about ceaseless environmental destruction and repeated acts of terror and war. These seeds of destruction that we have sown will continue into future generations, so that we are taking the future away from our children and grandchildren.

In the UNESCO Constitution, it is written: “…since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” This is indeed the truth. The cause of war is not in some great invisible force, but in the heart of each individual.

Furthermore, in the UN World Charter for Nature, it is written: “Mankind is a part of Nature”.

Unless we can humbly examine our deep connection with nature, we will be unable to set our crooked minds straight.

In Shugendô, ascetic training takes place in the mountains and fields, with prayers to Buddha, the Deities, and the world of nature. Our aim is to guard against the mistakes and wrongdoings which lodge themselves in our minds, to purify ourselves through physical and spiritual ascetic practices, and thus to be born anew.

By contacting with the spirits of great nature, Shugendô has helped to cultivate respect and appreciation for mountains, trees, all life and everything in creation.

Shakamuni Buddha left us this message: “May all living things be happy.”

Consideration for one another without regard for the past; forgiveness without blame.

This spirit—the way human beings should be—is summed up in the Japanese character jo (恕), meaning ‘tolerance and forgiveness.’

On the occasion of the seventh annual Symphony of Peace Prayers, we of the Shugendô faith—a faith which is unique to Japan—send the spirit of jo out to the world and to the future.

We continue to offer prayers for ‘Peace on Earth and Peace in the World,’ with respect and gratitude for all human beings—transcending all differences of religion, race, history, and culture—for mountains, rivers, grasses, trees, and all of nature, and for the entire universe and everything in creation.


Mr. Jagmohan Swamidas Chandrani

Mr. Jagmohan Swamidas Chandrani was born in Kolkata, India and graduated from Delhi University. In 1979, he moved to Tokyo, where he has lived since. In 1981, he established a company called Japan Business Service Ltd. His work consists of the import of Indian tea and foods, as well as the management of an Indian restaurant. Jagmohan Swamidas Chandrani is the chairman of the Indian Community of Edogawa (ICE) and he supports people from India living in Japan. He also facilitates grassroots activity exchanges between Japanese and Indian people.

Ladies and gentlemen, Namaste. I am very honored to be given such a great occasion today to pray with you all. I would like to introduce a little bit about Hinduism. The name ‘Hindu’ came from the Hindus River. The people of India call Hinduism ‘Sanatan Dharma,’ which means ‘dharma with no beginning and no end.’ In this dharma, we put importance on each individual choosing his or her own way. Today’s prayer is for the peace, stability and serenity of Earth.


(spoken by Mr. Chandrani in Hindi)


I. Ganapati Prarthana

Salutations to Ganapati,

Chief of the hosts of attendants of Shiva.

Wisest of all, abundantly glorious,

the only true reflection of the Supreme.

May your blessings be upon this (ritual, practice, undertaking).

Please be happy with us,

give us your protection and Grace

and be in our hearts.

May our efforts be pleasing to

you and be blessed.

I bow to the great

Lord Ganesha (Ganapati).


II. Sarva Mangalam

May there be tranquility on the earth

May there be tranquility in the water

May there be tranquility in fire

May there be tranquility in the wind

May there be tranquility in the sky

May there be tranquility in the sun

May there be tranquility in the moon

May there be tranquility on our planet

May there be tranquility in all living things

May there be tranquility in the body

May there be tranquility in the mind

May there be tranquility in the spirit

Tranquility of all

May that tranquility be everywhere and in everyone.



God the Guru in your manifestation

as Brahma the creative principle

Vishnu the preservative principle

Maheshwara the principle of re-absorption,

to you my humble prostrations.


IV. Twamewa Mata Ca Pita Twamewa

You are my father and mother,

You are my relative and friend,

You are my learning and wealth,

You are my all in all.


(spoken by all in Hindi)


V. Gayatri Mantra

Salutations to OM which

Pervades everything (the three realms—

that which is below, that which is

earthly, that which is heavenly).

May we meditate on the

Sun. May the Sun stimulate our

Intellect and set us in the right

direction so that the right

learning can be had, for the

benefit of all.


Mr. Hiroshi Nakahigashi

For most of his career, Mr. Nakahigashi served at Kasuga Taisha, a well known shrine in Nara. In the 1960s and ‘70s, he traveled to China, the Philippines, the United States, India, the Netherlands, and other countries to perform Gagaku—a form of traditional Japanese court music. He also performed Takigi Noh (Noh theater performed at night by a bonfire). On the occasion of the Emperor’s visit to Kasuga Taisha in 1979, he performed a traditional Shinto dance called Yamatomai.

In 1992, on the occasion of the 59th ritual transfer of Kasuga Taisha, Mr. Nakahigashi took part in a three-year-long nationwide pilgrimage. The following year, he began offering instruction in Shinto rituals within Nara Prefecture, continuing this service until 2009. He worked to collect funds for the ritual transfer of Kasuga Taisha in 1995, and in 1997, he became chief priest of Kasuga Taisha Shrine. In 2000, he became the grand guide for the Kasugayama Primeval Forest (part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Kasuga Taisha), and he has guided many people to Mount Kamiyama.

Mr. Nakahigashi retired from Kasuga Taisha in 2006 and became chief priest of the Shiraya Yawata (Hachiman) Shrine. In 2009, he became chief priest of Hiraoka Shrine in Higashiôsaka. He currently serves on the board of the Nanto Shinto Music Performance Association and the Association of Shinto Shrines, and as a trustee at Kokugakuin University and Kougakukan University.


My name is Hiroshi Nakahigashi, and I serve as chief priest of Hiraoka Shrine. It gives me great pleasure to be invited by Byakko Shinko Kai to come to Fuji Sanctuary and offer prayers for world peace with all of you.

Today, the world’s population is steadily increasing, and people’s self-centeredness knows no end. If this situation continues unabated, the Earth will soon reach its limit. Fortunately, our country can look forward to a very auspicious event two years from now.

In 2013, both Ise Shrine, which represents the Heavenly God, and Izumo Taisha Shrine, which represents the earthly divinities, will be moved. Ise Shrine is moved every 20 years and Izumo Taisha Shrine is moved every 60 years, so this is a very auspicious year that we encounter but once in a lifetime.

I believe that 2013 will mark an important turning point. As we move toward that year, I think people will begin to talk more about divinities, and their minds will gradually shift from a materialistic to a more spiritual outlook, breathing new life into Japan and the whole world. Now is a crucial moment in this process, and today’s ceremony of prayer for world peace is of great significance.

Hiraoka Shrine was enshrined by an imperial edict of the Emperor Jimmu three years before this country was founded. Thus, our shrine has a history that goes back 2,674 years. The deity of Amenokoyanenomikoto, who opened the Gate of the Celestial Rock Cave with prayer, is enshrined there. Through our beautiful prayers, let us open the gates to our own hearts, letting our inner divinity shine forth. Let us hold each other’s hands and pray together for world peace. I would like to express my deep gratitude to Byakko Shinko Kai for giving me the opportunity to take part in these important prayers today. Thank you very much.


Prayer (spoken by Mr. Nakahigashi in Japanese)

I, Hiroshi Nakahigashi, chief priest of the Hiraoka Shrine, sincerely offer my prayers to gods watching over this great universe.


Firstly, I would like to offer my deepest sympathies to the victims of the unprecedented large scale earthquake that took place on March 11th,and I pray that they may heal and rebuild as quickly as possible.


(spoken by all in Japanese)


With each passing year, more and more souls are born into this world. They are becoming more and more egocentric, and the future of all living things is at risk.

However, if we are always penitent for our mistaken thoughts and actions, push open the door to our hearts, keep our eyes focused on the truth of things, and polish our inner spirit, gratitude for all that keeps us alive—from grasses and trees to divinities—will well up like a spring, our joyful hearts will become compassionate, and with minds of peace, we will honor and respect all living things. As more and more people possess such feelings, heaven and earth will flow in harmony into eternity, filled with divine light. I pray that we will bring about a world of many blessings from joyful divinities. May peace prevail on Earth.


Rabbi Antonio Di Gesù

Rabbi Antonio Di Gesù, a native of Sicily, Italy, is the rabbi of the Jewish Community of Japan. A graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, Rabbi Di Gesù holds an M.A. in Bible and Ancient Near East Studies and an M.A. in Jewish Studies.

He has served the Jewish communities of Naples, Italy, and Wanaque, New Jersey and Baldwin, New York in the United States. In all three communities, he has been involved in various interfaith groups, promoting cultural and spiritual exchanges.

In New York City he taught Hebrew and Biblical Exegesis at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and also worked with God’s Love We Deliver, an organization that takes care of people who are ill and homebound.

Rabbi Di Gesù is among the founding members of the Sicilian Institute for Jewish Research. He has translated several major works of contemporary Israeli literature from Hebrew into Italian and he is currently working on the translation of the Midrash Vayikra Rabba, a medieval commentary on the biblical book of Leviticus.


Dear friends, it is a joy to see so many of you gathered here today for peace, and an honor to be part of this event. Allow me to share with you a little Jewish teaching.

Jewish tradition talks about a man who will come to soothe the world’s pains and bring about a long-lasting peace. In Hebrew, we call him Mashiach—Messiah. He will be a great political leader descended from King David, the most beloved of all the kings of ancient Israel. He will be endowed with great military skills, but at the same time, he will be a charismatic leader, inspiring others to follow his example. But above all, he will be a normal, humble human being.

Jewish tradition also teaches us that, before Mashiach, someone else will come into the world, someone who will begin the work of Mashiach and prepare the world for his arrival. This person is the prophet Elijah. Elijah lived in the land of Israel almost 3,000 years ago, and the Bible tells us that he performed many miracles, and always stood by the side of the poor and the weak. According to an ancient Jewish tradition, Elijah did not die, but rather, he is still alive today, and he roams the world, helping people in trouble.

The Kabbalah, a Jewish esoteric document, has a very interesting take on the prophet Elijah. Elijah is still alive today, but not in the way that you and I are alive. Elijah is alive within each one of us.

Elijah, says the Kabbalah, is a symbol of the desire to do good that every human being has within himself. According to the Kabbalah, when the Bible talks about Elijah, it is talking about the divine spark—the desire to reconnect with God. And in this quest for God, we perform good deeds and spread seeds of peace and joy all around. According the Kabbalah, then, each one of us can be the prophet Elijah and bring peace and harmony to the world.

I am sure that the energy that we are generating here today with our prayers will heal some of the world’s wounds. But we have to keep working on creating this healing energy when we go back home. And the simplest way to create and release this energy in the world is by doing little selfless deeds of love and kindness toward the people around us. This is what Elijah would do.


Prayer (spoken by Rabbi Di Gesù in Hebrew)

May we see the day when war and bloodshed cease, when a great peace will embrace the whole world. Then nation will not threaten nation and mankind will not again know war. For all who live on earth shall realize we have not come into being to hate or to destroy. We have come into being to praise, to labor and to love.

Compassionate God, bless the leaders of all nations with the power of compassion. Fulfill the promise conveyed in Scripture: I will bring peace to the land, and you shall lie down and no one shall terrify you.

I will rid the land of vicious beasts and it shall not be ravaged by war. Let love and justice flow like a mighty stream. Let the knowledge of God fill the earth as the waters fill the sea. And let us say: Amen.


(spoken by all in Hebrew)


May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be accepted unto you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

May the One Who Makes Peace in the heights make peace for us, for the household of Israel, for the household of Ishmael, and for all humankind. And let us say: Amen.


Fr. Paul Koroluk

Fr. Paul Koroluk is a priest in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate, and pastor of that church’s mission to Japan. With a background in nuclear engineering, he has traveled internationally to speak on the topic of faith and science, and his writings have been published by the Romanian Academy and in the journals Orthodox Canada and The Japan Missionary Journal.

In addition to his missionary work, Fr. Koroluk is secularly employed as a consulting engineer working for a Japanese intellectual property law firm. He is married and has lived in Japan since 1988.

Active in interfaith efforts, he participates regularly in the Tokyo Interfaith Dialogue and in 2008 was awarded a fellowship to spend a week at the Chautauqua Institution studying with twelve other clergy of different faith groups, becoming the first Orthodox priest to participate in that program.


Litany of Peace (sung by Fr. Koroluk in Japanese, with refrain sung by all)

FR. KOROLUK: In peace let us pray to the Lord.

PARTICIPANTS: Lord, have mercy.

FR. KOROLUK: For the peace from above, and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.

PARTICIPANTS: Lord, have mercy.

FR. KOROLUK: For the peace of the whole world, for the well being of the Holy Churches of God, and for the union of them all, let us pray to the Lord.

PARTICIPANTS: Lord, have mercy.

FR. KOROLUK: For this place, and for all who assemble with faith, reverence, and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.

PARTICIPANTS: Lord, have mercy.

FR. KOROLUK: For this city, for every city and countryside, and for those living within them, let us pray to the Lord.

PARTICIPANTS: Lord, have mercy.

FR. KOROLUK: For peace and comfort to the people of Tohoku, and for the endurance and strength of those bringing them aid, let us pray to the Lord.

PARTICIPANTS: Lord, have mercy.

FR. KOROLUK: That the earth may rest from earthquakes and tsunamis, and that we may have the wisdom to respect the awesome invisible power of His creation, let us pray to the Lord.

PARTICIPANTS: Lord, have mercy.

FR. KOROLUK: For seasonable weather, for an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord.

PARTICIPANTS: Lord, have mercy.

FR. KOROLUK: For the safety of those who travel, and for the salvation of the sick, the suffering, and the captive, let us pray to the Lord.

PARTICIPANTS: Lord, have mercy.

FR. KOROLUK: That we may be delivered from all affliction, wrath and adversity, let us pray to the Lord.

PARTICIPANTS: Lord, have mercy.

FR. KOROLUK: Protect us, save us, have mercy on us and preserve us, O God, by Thy Grace.

PARTICIPANTS: Lord, have mercy.

FR. KOROLUK: O Lord, who blesses those who bless Thee, and sanctifies those who trust in Thee: Save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Sanctify those who love the beauty of Thy House; glorify them in return by Thy divine power, and forsake us not who put our hope in Thee. Give peace to Thy world, to this God-loving and God-protected country of Japan, and to all Thy people. For every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from Thee, the Father of Lights, and unto Thee we render glory, thanksgiving, and worship: now and ever and unto ages of ages.



Mr. Humayun A. Mughal

Mr. Humayun A. Mughal, an Islamic Sufi spiritual leader, is a descendent of the Mughal imperial family. At age 11, under the guidance of his father, Mr. Mughal learned to commune with the spiritual world, and he attained an awakening through healing prayers.

In 1984, he graduated from Islamabad University with a major in Japanese language, and the following year, he was invited to study in Japan as part of an international exchange program. He studied psychology at Kyushu University. As the head of an Islamic culture study group, he gave talks and held other activities on Islamic Sufism, often appearing on live television. Mr. Mughal has worked in Japan as a journalist, critic, interpreter, and facilitator of televised discussions on cross-cultural topics. He has presided over various groups, such as Japan and Pakistan Cross-Cultural Exchange, New Hope Fukuoka 21, Fukuoka English Speaking Society, and two NGOs: Japan Peace Service and United Peace Foundation Pakistan. He has also authored several books, including Islam and Japan (Japanese, Bungeisha Publishers) and Let Me Come to Pakistan (English, Pakistan Fiction House). Mr. Mughal lives in Fukuoka with his wife and family.

Mr. Mughal was a prayer leader in the 2008 and 2009 SOPP ceremonies at Fuji Sanctuary.


When I was a child, I asked my father where a human being comes from, and where it goes. He told me that, from a child, you grow up to become a youth. When you are a child, you don’t know what it feels like to be a youth. But when you become a youth, you can understand what youth is. Later, you become an old person. Maybe, in your house, you had an old mother, father, grandmother, or grandfather, but you can’t feel their feelings. You have to experience it. When you become an old person, then you can feel what an old person feels. Then, you are looking at the graveyard and watching funeral ceremonies, but you cannot understand what death is. He said, you have to experience death. Without experience, you can’t understand what death is.

But I said, no father, I want to hear more—what will happen after death? Where will we go? He said, you have to think about it from the reverse side. Before you were old, you were a young man. Before you were a young man, you were a child. Before you were a child, you were in the womb, and before that, you were blood. And where does blood come from? He said, blood comes from food, and food comes from this earth. Therefore, you have to respect this holy ground, because it’s giving us life.

He said that when we die, our body will go to the graveyard. But, we have another spark of life. We have a spirit. The spirit comes from God, and it’s a light. This light is inside. So, in the beginning, a child has a small light, like a candle’s light. You have to make this light bigger and bigger, so you have to do more meditation and more prayer. Prayer and meditation is the way you generate power, generate your spirit. And as you generate spirit, your life becomes brighter and brighter. And finally, you can meet with God when you are my age. When you are dark, you cannot meet with God. Everybody has a desire to meet with God, to see God, but for that purpose you need a special light inside of you.

God is light. Finally, we go back to the light. This prayer is for the people who died in the tsunami and earthquake, because a lot them haven’t prayed enough. So, we can pray to their spirit and make it brighter, and give their families more peace and more love.


Call to Prayer (sung by Mr. Mughal in Arabic)

God is Greatest.

I bear witness that there is not reality, but one reality.

I bear witness that Mohammed is the messenger of God.

Come, come to prayer.

Come, come for your highest spiritual enlightenment.

God is greatest.

Nothing exists separate from God.


Prayer (spoken by all in Japanese)

Allahu Akbar.

I am grateful and overjoyed to have the opportunity to pray for peace today with so many esteemed people of faith.

The world continues to be a place of conflict and struggle, and poverty, hunger, and other adversities have yet to cease. I pray for peace to come even one day sooner. I pray for the souls of those who were victims of earthquakes and other disasters around the world, especially the recent Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Last time I came to pray at Fuji Sanctuary, we prayed to awaken all humanity, but during these past two years, several natural disasters have taken place. Now more than ever, all human beings need to reflect on the course of their lives, and with modesty and humility, follow their conscience in praying for peace and creating peace.

Given the honor of praying for peace here at Fuji Sanctuary today, I myself make a heartfelt pledge to create peace in the earthly world. Furthermore, I pray that the saints and wise people in the spiritual world will assist us in our efforts. I pray with all my heart that this prayer reaches to heaven.

May peace prevail on Earth. Amen.


Lastly, Byakko Chairperson Masami Saionji offered her own message and led participants in a special prayer for peace.


For the last half century, Byakko Shinko Kai has been dedicating prayers for peace to cultivate the path toward the realization of world peace. With your blessings, Fuji Sanctuary has become an international sanctuary where united prayers are offered, embracing all faiths, traditions, and cultures. At this sanctuary today, let us merge as one, in heart and in prayer, to visualize the unfolding of another page in the history of peace. Thank you.


Prayer (spoken by Mrs. Saionji in Japanese)

World peace is not something bestowed by God.

It cannot be given to us by others,

Nor can others take it away.


World peace and humanity’s happiness are constructed

Through the prayerful heart of each and every human being.

They are created.


Thus, it begins with the resurgence

Of each human being’s true being—our divine nature—

Through our prayers for world peace.


(spoken by all in Japanese)


Originally, human beings are truth itself—sacred and divine.

We are infinite life itself, we are shining light.

We are joined as one with all living things,

With nature, and everything in creation.

For a long, long time, human beings have neglected the principles of heaven.

By cleansing and purifying ourselves,

Clearing away the mistaken thoughts and actions that have stood in the way of truth,

We will be able to restore our divinity.

When the divinity of every last human being is revived,

World peace will naturally be achieved.

May peace prevail on Earth.

May peace prevail on Earth.

May our missions be accomplished.

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