Impressions from the ceremony
Following the ceremony, the prayer leaders, youth participants, and several the guests were kind enough to give their thoughts and impressions. We are pleased to offer their heartfelt remarks here.
Mr. Jagmohan Swamidas Chandrani, Chair, Indian Community of Edogawa
It was wonderful participating in the ceremony. I first participated in the SOPP last year, and that was a very good experience for me, but this year, the ceremony felt even more open to me.
When standing on stage in front of a large number of people, I often feel pressure, but here I felt that all the people were genuinely opening their hearts to me and giving me encouragement and support, and I wanted to embrace their hearts, too. I am sure this is because the space is so open and surrounded by nature. But I also felt that this year, people’s minds were much more open, and that there was more cohesion amongst the participants, with each prayer serving like an instrument in an orchestra. I also believe that everyone’s spirit of harmony served to elevate this orchestra. This is extremely important for all of us who live in this era.
Hinduism is not originally its own religion, but rather means ‘the Hindu (Indian) way.’ The meaning of ‘way’ is the guidance that shows you, for example, when you walk a mountain path, you should walk this way, and when you walk on flat land, you should walk this way. We face different problems at different times, and when our environment changes, our way of walking also changes. There is a way to walk under the scorching sun, and another way to walk in the pouring rain. When people understand this, they can accept all kinds of differences.
At this year’s SOPP, one of the youth members told me about a person who belongs to a specific tribe. The things that this person cherishes are respect, religion, hospitality, friendship, and death. ‘Peace’ is not included because the person does not have that concept. To this person, hospitality and friendship represent peace, and even in the midst of war, this person can still sense moments of peace. Even though the person does not use the word ‘peace,’ he or she does wish for peace. So, if we ask ourselves what we can do when people think in such different ways, we will see that the only thing to do is to pray for peace.
Human beings live from moment to moment. I believe that what is important is what we feel in each moment. As I mentioned before, we are like instruments in an orchestra—a drum can produce only the sound of a drum, and in a symphony the drum does not continually produce its sound. Its part may be only a momentarily bang, and yet it is serving an extremely important role.
In this sense, I felt that the SOPP created an open space that enabled us to awaken to our own individual roles. I hope to see SOPP ceremonies organized in more countries in the future. And I also hope to see the continued involvement and support of young people, as we had this year.
Rabbi Antonio Di Gesù, Rabbi, Jewish Community of Japan
This year, I was more relaxed than last year, and I was able to relax even more after I offered my message so I could enjoy the messages of the other prayer leaders. Each one of them said something that resonated with me, and that I will take back to my community when I report on this event.
The story of the Shinto priest was very moving—an amulet from a shrine in another prefecture went to his shrine after the earthquake. Also the message from Bawa Jain—he said, be proud of your faith and don’t hide your faith. Let it out, then you can change the universe. I also love the idea that Hinduism believes that the path is eternal, just as we believe in Judaism.
The part of the ceremony that touched me the most, giving me goose bumps, just as it did last year, was when the flag bearers walked in, and again when they walked out. It is an extremely powerful image. Both times, it made me think how great it would be if all the countries really came together like that, walking in harmony. I’m quite sure that this part of the ceremony would always be special, no matter how many times I attended the SOPP. You know, I’m Italian, so I pray for Italy every now and then; I pray for Israel, of course, and I love Greece so I pray for Greece, too. Last year and this year, I found myself praying for countries that I never think of. That was also powerful. After a while, you stop thinking about whether they are friends or foes, and you pray for all of them.
I think the first step to create world peace is to make peace in our own environment. That’s how we can start. I’ve been trying to do some interfaith work here in Japan—in Tokyo, where I live. I’ve been meeting with several Shinto priests and Buddhist monks and I hope to have the energy and the support from my community to keep doing that. My desire for the years I have left in Japan is to do something that involves the two Japanese faiths, working on some common interest, finding a common ground where we can contribute spiritually to this country. Maybe it can also involve Masami and Yuka Saionji, with support from Byakko. I am praying that my community and also the communities for which my Shinto and Buddhist friends work respond positively.
The Rev. Canon Charles P. Gibbs, Executive Director, United Religions Initiative
The SOPP, for me, was just a phenomenal experience. To begin with, the physical setting is beyond description—the great physical beauty of this place combined with the energy that is created here over time, with people praying and praying and praying and praying.
I was so moved the day before the ceremony to see the written prayers and mandalas that were on display downstairs, and to see the care that people have taken in writing those prayers in each country’s national languages. For example, when I look at the peace prayers written in Arabic, I can’t imagine reproducing that. And yet to see that people whose native language is Japanese have taken the care to write out prayers for peace in Arabic, on behalf of people whose language is Arabic, and to feel the power of that going on day after day, year after year, is deeply impressive. That faithful prayerfulness, I think, is part of the spirit of this place. And for me, that spirit was so very present in the ceremony.
That same spirit could be felt even before the ceremony started. Arriving here and seeing so many gracious, joyous volunteers greeting you, directing you so kindly and so gently wherever you needed to go, and then looking out at the field as it filled little by little with people who, with all the things they might do with a day, have chosen to come sit in who knows what kind of weather—hot sun, cold, or some of both—for several hours because they care so deeply about peace in the world… that spirit for me was just phenomenal. It was a gift I will hold and cherish always.
I believe that every moment of history is a moment of transition. At each moment, we have an opportunity to go toward the light or toward the darkness—toward our higher nature or toward our lower nature. But I’m not sure there has ever been a time in history when the potential consequences of that choice have been greater. With the capacities we have today, we can either destroy the human community and do incredible damage to the Earth and the environment, or we can connect with each other globally and create the shared humanity that we really are meant to be.
I think the SOPP definitely has a role to play in creating this kind of shared humanity. If you went to a place where there are two parties that are at war or else perilously close to war, and you said, “would you all please pray for one another?” you might not be sure of getting the response that you wanted. But if you had people from those two groups of people as part of this ceremony, praying for every single nation in the world, when it came time to pray for each other’s people, how could they not wish the same for them that they wished for all other people?
So, for me, the SOPP is an experience of our unity, and the prayer evokes our best nature—to wish for every single group of people in the world what we would wish for ourselves: to live in peace. I think it’s impossible to participate in this ceremony and not feel our global oneness, and not be in some way inspired to want to do something to help manifest that. I am so grateful to be here, and so grateful that this work is going on.
Dr. Bawa Jain, Secretary-General of the World Council of Religious Leaders of the Millennium World Peace Summit
For me, it was a dream come true to be able to come to Mount Fuji. This is a vision I’ve held for almost twenty years. I was overcome with a lot of emotions, and I truly feel that my life will never be the same again. Every day, when I sit in meditation, in the morning and in the evening, this image will always be central and will always remain with me. I believe that this will serve to inspire me tremendously, and give me the energy to continue to strive for peace in the world.
This was a goal that I set for myself many years ago, with the blessing of my spiritual father, and it was almost twenty years ago that I came to Japan for the first time with him. So, there seems to be a connection here. And I truly believe that while, physically, I am here, it is not really me, but my spiritual father who is here. And so, I am deeply, deeply grateful to the Saionji family, to Byakko Shinko Kai, to all the staff and volunteers, and to everyone involved in the SOPP for bringing us here.
Affirmations and signs are very important, and yesterday at the ceremony there was great sign. We had sincerely prayed and shared our prayers, and as we came off the stage, Mrs. Saionji was hugging me and thanking me for my speech, and I was thanking her for her energy. We both looked up, and saw a halo around the sun. And I said to her, “Go to the stage, and share it with everybody!” There are great signs here. Something else happened at four in the morning that day that was linked to the halo. I woke up and went to look at Mount Fuji, and I saw a ring around it, like the rings around Saturn. The first word that came into my mind was ‘halo.’ And then, just as we finished that part of the ceremony, we looked up and saw a halo. So, I believe that we have come here at a very special time, with God’s blessings, and that this is going to have special meaning as we go forward.
When I talked with Yuka Saionji the night before the ceremony, she said that if I felt inspired to share something tomorrow that was not in my speech, I should go ahead. And because of those special words, I was able to ask for everyone’s participation. In the Japanese culture, holding hands and participating in that way is not so common, so I felt that we overcame some barriers.
I also had two special moments outside of the ceremony here at Fuji Sanctuary. The first was walking to the top of the Seven Stations and finding a place where I could sit and pray. The second one was being able to write prayers in the 7-21 activity. I had just come from Iran, where I was on a very sensitive peace mission. And so, when they asked me to pray here, I was able to offer that intention here, to pray for peace in Iran. And of course, Mount Fuji is also very special—mighty and majestic.
I think that the more people who come here and experience this, the more they will be transformed. And that’s all we need—transformation. This event is a great instrument of transformation, raising people’s consciousness, and giving them inspiration and hope. So, I hope we can continue to spread this movement.
Mr. Noriyoshi Kashima, Chief Priest of Kashima Shrine
May the world be at peace, and may all people live with a strong spirit—these two prayers are the basis of all religions. This is what I felt while listening to the various prayers today. However, it troubles me that this truth is not universally understood.
What should we as religious people do in the days to come? Although I am humbled to speak of the world of God, based on the two prayers mentioned above, I believe it is the duty of people who serve God to listen to what the divinities are telling us, and to convey it to others.
When I look at last year’s disaster from the viewpoint of mythology and the legend passed down at Kashima Shrine, I cannot help but feel that it was not an accidental occurrence, but rather an act of God. I spoke about this when I told the story of the talisman that washed up on the shore at Kashima.
It is said that divine work comes first. That is, if we act in service to the divinities, without delay, then they will also provide us with their power. Joining our power with that of the divinities, we must work towards the reconstruction of our nation. I pray that those displaced by the disaster can soon return to their homes, and that the people of Tohoku can soon regain a peaceful life.
Mr. Humayun A. Mughal, Islamic Sufi Spiritual Leader
This was my fourth time serving as a prayer leader. Since I first led a prayer (in 2008), I have continued to improve my prayer every year. This year, I felt that I was able to offer a great prayer that was tremendously spiritual.
In Japanese, you have the term kotodama (divine word or phrase), and as this term reveals, the vibrancy of the human mind changes in accordance with the voice. I was therefore pleased to receive the compliment that the Adhan (the Islamic call to prayer) sounded wonderful, and I would say that it is because the words themselves are sacred words that have descended from heaven. Moreover, when we recite each other’s prayers—which are also words descended from heaven—in different languages such as Arabic and Japanese, with a purity of spirit, then our minds also become united as one.
After the SOPP ceremony, people came to me saying, “I was so moved!” “Thank you!” and they hugged me. I also received wonderful comments from other prayer leaders, such as that my prayer was inspiring and brightened up the whole venue like some form of lively rock and roll music! Many people said they were moved to tears, but it is also true that I received an enormous amount of energy from their positive response to my prayer. I myself was recharged by that energy, and my spiritual level has been greatly elevated. Moreover, I felt great joy in receiving the heartfelt response to my speech and prayer. I could immediately sense that the participants’ applause came from the bottom of their hearts.
Why did God create human beings? It is for us to experience joy. Prayers are also a joy. However, joy cannot be born on its own—it requires a partner. In the SOPP, there are several thousand partners with whom I create this joy together, and therefore my spiritual level has been dramatically elevated, and I was filled with joy and revived.
Within us human beings reside the qualities of God. That we have a ‘divine nature’ means that we possess the qualities of God, and these qualities have been resurrected within me. I think that everyone comes here seeking their own revival. I myself felt revived this year, and I believe that everyone else did, too. It is for this reason that I felt this year’s SOPP was different from other years.
I believe the success of SOPP will lead to the realization of world peace, and therefore I am going to continue spreading the prayer May peace prevail on Earth and continue supporting the SOPP until the day when world peace is realized.
Mr. Honnen Nakamura, Director of The Research Institute of Esoteric Buddhist Culture and Professor at Kôyasan University
I feel a deep sense of joy in my heart for having been connected to today’s precious ceremony. It was my privilege to have been able to meet and work with prayer leaders from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, and of course ancient Japanese Shintoism. I cannot express in words how deeply touched I was that throughout the ceremony, we were able to pray together for world peace and the well-being of humanity, transcending any differences in principles and ideology while respecting the rites and rituals of each faith. Once again, I embrace the profound significance of this ceremony.
Throughout his entire life, Kôbô-Daishi Kûkai never held any biases or fixed ideas about different religions and sects. Kûkai’s philosophy is reflected in the Esoteric Buddhist mandala, in which various Buddhas coexist in harmony and create a sacred space. The original meaning of mandala is ‘that which possesses the true reality,’ and in Buddhism, ‘true reality’ means awakening to our true, original nature. Thus, a mandala depicts the world of saints and holy people, such as Buddhas and boddhisatvas, who have manifested their divine nature. At the root of this is an awakening to our own pure mind—our original self. The true nature of each one of us is indeed a mandala.
In the real world, we face many challenging issues and causes for concern, and the state of the world appears more and more chaotic and confusing. Especially since the Great Tohoku Earthquake, it seems that a major shift is about to occur in our culture and our sense of values. In many places, people are discussing how we can build a sustainable world and a new sense of values, and they are seeking a consciousness revolution on a global scale. As this movement quickly builds momentum, I am grateful for having this opportunity to recognize just how important it is to earnestly pray for the peace of each country, transcending all religious differences.
Dr. Shlomo Alon, Vice-President of IARF, Vice-Chair of URI, Former Head of Arabic Studies in the Israeli Ministry of Education, Member for life in the Israel Academy for Arabic Language (Israel)
In this world, we are still confronted with many wars, disputes, and religious conflicts, and there are also many conferences and movements to resolve these problems. Of these, I believe that the SOPP is the most outstanding spiritual ceremony or gathering. From all over the world, religious-minded people—and even those who do not have a specific faith—have been gathering and praying for world peace for years. Every time I participate in this ceremony, I am deeply touched by the purity and honesty of the prayers.
Fuji Sanctuary, from where these prayers are sent out, basks in the energy of Mount Fuji and its surrounding nature, and I myself also feel that I receive strength from the natural world and from the people I meet each time I come here. Fuji Sanctuary is a unique place, and I don’t know if there is any other place where people offer peace prayers in the language of each country.
The SOPP ceremony is not extravagant or glitzy, but rather it begins with prayer and ends with prayer, and yet its simplicity and artlessness fascinates me. I believe that its significance resides in people coming together amidst these natural surroundings and offering prayers. I wanted to offer prayers together with all the participants, and to feel the power of those prayers, and this is the reason that I participated again this year.
Moreover, as a follower of the Jewish faith, I know the greatness of the power of prayer, and therefore I believe that the noble and pure prayer of the SOPP serves as a strong support for humanity. There is a prayer phrase—Baruch Hashem in Hebrew and In Shaa Allah in Arabic—which means “If it be your will, Lord…” I strongly feel that when we send out a powerful prayer for world peace, through that prayer, God will help us.
The month of May, which is the month of the SOPP, is also the month of the Israeli Independence Day, and also Memorial Day, which comes just before it. That we are here today is owing to the existence and sacrifices of those who came before us, and therefore Memorial Day is an important time for me. On this day, I always examine on what basis I am standing now, and by doing so, I establish the direction towards which I should be moving. While I was here at Fuji Sanctuary, I was thinking of Independence Day, and strongly felt that it is truly important to pray for world peace. I have no doubt that peace between Israel and Palestine will be accomplished through the beacon of an event like the SOPP, which accepts all differences and brings people together as one.
I felt that this year’s ceremony was extremely spiritual. As I offered prayers in many different languages together with people who have come from different ethnic backgrounds, what struck me in particular was the sense of ‘faith’—of a ‘trusting mind’ within which God, all the participants, and the great number of supporters who linked with the ceremony around the world are united as one. I also feel strongly that this trusting mind will have an influence on others. I felt that the power of the prayers has grown stronger since last year’s ceremony, and since the year before last, and I also feel that the prayers and Fuji Sanctuary itself are continuing to evolve.
Finally, I was thrilled to have been reunited with Mr. Charles Gibbs of the URI at this year’s ceremony, as he is my longtime friend. I felt it was God’s will and blessing.
Ms. Naomi Avivi-Weisblatt, Lecturer, Tel Aviv University (Israel)
I have known Dr. Shlomo Alon for over thirty years, through my Arabic language studies. For many years, I have been working in the Arab community, to facilitate exchanges between the Jewish and Arab peoples and to build a bridge between the two cultures. Dr. Alon told me a little about the SOPP ceremony, and living in Israel, where all kinds of problems come up on a daily basis, I was amazed to hear that people from different countries with different languages, cultures, religions, and ethnic backgrounds would gather in one place to pray. What a miracle that such a ceremony exists! I thought. Without a doubt, I want to be part of it! Also, it was my first time visiting Japan.
It was truly an honor and a privilege to be able to participate in this ceremony of prayer for world peace, with so many people from all over the world. There were prayer leaders from a number of different faiths, and I was amazed and impressed to see them confidently praying prayers from their own religious traditions.
The Muslim prayer leader was sitting behind me, and he greeted me with kind words like: “Shalom, shalom! It’s very nice to meet you!” It made me very happy. I felt that all the participants were people of outstanding character. Also, as far as I know, Muslims usually pray individually, and Sufis in particular don’t pray in large crowds, so that was one thing that surprised me.
I was also very moved to see everyone—people of different languages and faiths—praying together in the languages of each country. There were some countries whose names I had never even heard before. Each part of the program was connected, and in the end, it all came together for one great purpose. I felt there could be no better prayer ceremony.
And Fuji Sanctuary! As we Jewish people say, ‘it fits like a glove.’ It is such a marvelous, spiritual place, and I feel it is the most fitting place to pray for world peace.
The program booklet we received contains so much information—all the prayer words are there. What wonderful booklet to have! When I return to Israel, I will tell my friends and acquaintances about the SOPP. Using the program booklet, I will think about not only my own country, but about many different countries, and it is my wish that my colleagues and I will be able to pray for those countries together.
Mr. Ram Shenkar, Conductor and pianist (Israel)
When I learned about the SOPP, I thought that if the people gathering there prayed for world peace sincerely, from the bottom of their hearts, then the ceremony would be successful. There are people in the world who believe that their religion is foremost, but I felt that if the venue was genuinely a sacred space, then all religions would merge into one and echo throughout the world as a wonderful prayer of harmony, and so I decided to participate. When all of the programs were completed, I was enveloped by a surge of deep emotion. I could feel an amazing, positive energy radiating from all the participants. I also felt how wonderful it was to pray for world peace with this superb energy.
Even though the result of the prayers may not reveal itself immediately, I believe that the achievement and effect of today’s prayers will begin to emerge after one or two days. It is the same with myself—I feel that I am receiving it deep within my mind, and I would like to wait for it to gradually emerge on the surface.
This was my first opportunity to participate in the SOPP, and I felt that the ceremony was organized and carried out in an excellent way. The prayers from different faiths, the speeches, the flag bearers hoisting their flags as they proceeded from the rear of the field onto the stage, and the prayers for each country of the world in their own languages—each movement and scene was a perfect picture in itself.
The ceremony was composed with such a wide range of movement, and yet it was performed with such fluency—I was quite amazed. In Israel, even if people share the same aim, it often is quite difficult to lead them into this kind of organized flow of movement. Observing the participants here, who patiently remained seated and continued offering prayers, gave me a very special feeling.
The SOPP inspired me to think that, rather than working only as a conductor, I may also be able to radiate the power or energy of prayer through different genres of music. Every music performance is unique, and no two are ever the same. Each performance is a serious undertaking and a one-time opportunity for me, and in that sense I think it has a great deal in common with the SOPP. In the case of a musical performance, the musicians get together in one venue and each plays their own instrument. We focus our energy on perfecting the orchestra, and this process is very much like the SOPP.
Together, we created harmony by playing the music called prayer, and in its composition I felt a likeness to the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven. The flow of the SOPP, beginning with a great number of people getting together, followed by the speeches and prayers, the entrance of the flags, and the prayers for each country of the world, which could be seen as individuals appreciating each other and sublimating such appreciation to a love for humanity—it completely matches the composition of the Ninth Symphony. Then, their joy for the recognition of the world being one is heightened, and as that joy reaches its climax, heavenly love and love on earth are united as one.
Mr. Mark Zion, Associate Professor, Tama University (United States, Japan)
The SOPP affected me on a subconscious level. I found myself weeping three or four times during the ceremony because I was so touched and so moved. But I can’t put into words exactly why I felt the way I did. Part of it was the nature and the atmosphere, and the people coming together as one, and the music as well. It touched me on a very deep, personal level, and I know it was a very special day for everyone—especially for me.
Creating a better future begins in the heart. As some of us were saying today, it’s about accepting yourself, forgiving yourself, and also having a vision for yourself of what you want to do for the world and for other people. And then, you just begin. You begin with yourself.
I think it’s important for people to be healed, to make sure they’re healed deep inside of themselves. If they’re healed, they can heal other people and bring blessings to other people.
I think Fuji Sanctuary is a very special place. It’s a sacred space and a very holy place. This was actually my fifth time to come to Fuji Sanctuary, and my image always changes as I grow and as I understand and appreciate Fuji Sanctuary more. I appreciate what the Saionjis have done, and what other people have done to make it possible.
Mr. Madhusudan Agrawal
I was moved. I think that, at one time, individual practice for enlightenment was necessary, but now the time has come for the collective consciousness to rise. So, I think what’s important is to create spaces—spaces like this, which invite us to bring out the best in ourselves and to connect with our own inner self.
What profoundly touched me was to be in that space and suddenly realize how divine you are, and how divine every one of us is. Through the magic of each other’s presence, you can really see the goodness in all of us. It goes beyond religion and beyond countries, and we come together as humanity. So, I think it’s very important for people to come together and share their humanity, share who they truly are. It’s more than just important—I don’t see any other way. Gandhi also used to say that there is no way other than this. The SOPP was the peace I wish to see in the world.
Ms. Barbara Arredondo
The SOPP is a celebration of love. It’s an opportunity to respect who we are without judging—I felt that when everyone was praying so willingly, in every language, with so much respect. When we were praying for peace in each country, I felt that we weren’t just Japanese, Mexican, et cetera. We transformed ourselves into Afghans, Chileans, and so on. We embodied each country.
I felt my heart expand, and I felt like I was at home. It’s nice to feel at home when you’re on the other side of the world, and that’s how the SOPP felt to me. Today I had a chance to witness a part of this huge masterpiece that is also being sung in different cities across the world at the same time. It was really an honor to be an instrument in that music that was playing all around us. It’s amazing to see how the idea of the SOPP has unfolded, and it was magical to share and take part in it. The SOPP is something everyone should experience at least once in their life.
Ms. Daniela Arrendondo de Kehoe
For me, the SOPP was the greatest treasure I’ve ever encountered. It was one of the best moments of my life. I’ve never felt so happy to pray, and most importantly, to pray with others. I felt like part of a family. I felt so welcomed, so loved, so nurtured. I felt that I was in a space where I was able to grow spiritually, and where I can’t wait to grow even more. That’s something that I’ve always looked for in my life—someplace where I can learn. And when you do that in the most important part of your being—your spirit—that is a treasure.
I also felt that this was a materialization of what it is to pray, what it is to be in community, what it is to be in spirit, and what it is to find the divine in yourself and in others. The challenge is in thinking about how this seed will continue to flourish. I was privileged to have been invited to be part of this, and I can’t wait to share it with my family and my friends, and through the work that I want to do.
I could feel a sense of authenticity and integrity in the participants, many of whom have been praying for peace for over forty years. It was an honor to be in their presence, and I felt deep gratitude for having been invited and to be part of this.
Mr. Sunny Forsyth
It was amazing to feel so much warmth and love. I really enjoyed listening to the prayers from the different prayer leaders. The diversity was amazing, and you could see how so much of the diversity and richness in the world came about through different religious practices. And yet, at the same time, they all came back to a similar message. To see both the diversity and the universality of it was wonderful. The SOPP honors what it means to be human.
The other thing that struck me was the sincerity. Seeing the flag wavers during the ceremony, I could really feel the sincerity and the full commitment to what they were doing. If you look at a flag waver, not from your own personal or cultural perspective, but with an appreciation of their sincerity, it becomes a beautiful thing. It’s like wearing your heart on your sleeve, isn’t it? You are not concerned about anyone’s perceptions during that moment—you just live wholeheartedly. It’s wonderful!
I felt this same sense of sincerity and focus when I looked at the handwritten mandalas—a complete commitment to that one moment, that one little detail that you are turning your attention to. Life is really breath after breath, or letter after letter, or word after word, isn’t it? That really struck me in a tangible way. I felt that this continuation of moments is a process—not of intellectualizing or closing down, but of opening up.
Mr. Ben Hart
For me, the SOPP was a celebration of being alive. It’s the world that I feel is in each of our hearts. I think it was Thich Nhat Hanh who said that the next Buddha won’t be a person—the next Buddha will be a community. I was really feeling that today, seeing everyone participating from their heart, with their deepest wish for the world. The word that comes to mind is ‘sincere’—how sincere it is. There is no tradition or self-consciousness—it’s just a feeling of: “We want the best for the world, and the world is in our heart, so let’s pray for the world.” I was so moved to feel people’s authenticity and devotion.
Spirituality and prayer are not often talked about in our society, but in environments like this, they become beautiful, and embraced, and cool! The feeling I had was that this is the world I want to live in, and we’re creating it right now. There was a moment when we were praying for the United States, and I saw a woman praying so deeply, and it moved me so much to think that my country and my people are in her heart, just as she’s in mine. And then we get to reflect that back to each other and realize that we’re all one heart.
So, I feel a sense of inspiration to take this home, as well as a deeper commitment to being who I really am, and to thinking about how we can be that together.