Praying with the Religions of the World
The ceremony then moved on to its first main program, Praying with the Religions of the World, in which prayer leaders from different faiths and spiritual traditions lead participants in prayers for peace. It is this unique program that gives the Symphony of Peace Prayers its deep significance in fostering the development of world peace and interfaith harmony. Over the years, prayer leaders from numerous faiths and traditions have come together at SOPP ceremonies around the world to show their respect for and acceptance of all other faiths, to join in their prayers, and to send out a unified message for peace on earth.
With great applause from participants, prayer leaders from seven world religions were introduced on stage, joined by Mrs. Masami Saionji, Chairperson of Byakko Shinko Kai. One by one, they greeted participants and guests with a personal message and then offered a prayer from their own spiritual tradition.
Mr. Honnen Nakamura (Shingon Esoteric Buddhism)
Mr. Honnen Nakamura was born in Kobe in 1955. He graduated from Kôyasan University in 1976, and in 1983, became a lecturer at Kôyasan University’s Special Institute. The following year, he completed the doctoral course at Kôyasan University and became an assistant professor. In 1989, he became a lecturer at the Kôyasan Institute for Nuns.
In 1995, Mr. Nakamura was awarded a prize from the Esoteric Buddhism Society of Japan. In 2002, he became a full professor at Kôyasan University, and in 2007, became head of the university’s Correspondence Education program. In 2009, he became a trustee for the Association for the Study of Japanese Mountain Religion (Shugendô). In 2011, Mr. Nakamura began his current position at the Research Institute of Esoteric Buddhist Culture, and also became Director of the Japanese Association of Indian and Buddhist Studies.
Mr. Nakamura is also involved in studying the work of Kôbô-Daishi Kûkai, who systematized the theory and practice of Sokushin Jôbutsu (the attainment of Buddhahood during life), as well as researching the history of Esoteric Buddhist studies. He is the author of several books, including Kûkai and Kôyasan: Problems in the Study of Esoteric Buddhism, Reading the Ben-ken-mitsu-ni-kyo-ron, and Peace through Esoteric Buddhism (all in Japanese).
Hello. My name is Honnen Nakamura, and I am Director of the Research Institute of Esoteric Buddhist Culture. I am extremely honored to be participating in today’s Symphony of Peace Prayers ceremony.
I study Esoteric Buddhism in the Kôyasan region, which was first settled by Kôbô-Daishi Kûkai. The mandala is one of the ways of giving expression to the world of Esoteric Buddhism. Mandalas in Esoteric Buddhism depict various Buddhas and bodhisattvas in vivid colors, with Dainichi Nyorai (Mahâvairocana) the divine embodiment of the sun and universal truth—at the center.
Along with images of Buddhas and bodhisattvas, these mandalas depict the Five Wisdom Kings of Esoteric Buddhism, symbolized by Acalanâtha, as well as deities such as Sakra and Vaisravana, who have been worshipped by people in India since ancient times. They show how these figures guided people in accordance with their own individual characteristics. Also included in these mandalas is the idea that all living things come from the same source and are essentially one, and all are noble, radiantly shining existences, and thus we do not negate or reject non-Buddhist faiths and cultures.
Kûkai, who founded the Shingon sect of Buddhism at Kôyasan, taught people to attain Buddhahood within this lifetime, and throughout his life, he talked about the innate purity and infinite potential of human beings. In his last years, he proclaimed, “My wish will not be fulfilled until all human beings awaken to truth,” and this became his eternal prayer. Contained in this vow is a wish to usher each and every living being—birds that fly in the sky, bugs that crawl on the earth, fish that swim in the water, and animals that frolic in the forest—into the world of truth.
In addition to the Great Tohoku Earthquake that occurred in March of last year, numerous disasters and conflicts continue to take place all over the world. Amidst these tense conditions, I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to pray for the peace of humanity together with all of you. A nation or society is shaped by the consciousness of its people, and in this sense, it is said that a new world of peace and harmony begins in the heart of each individual. Through our prayers for peace on earth and the peace of humanity, I feel certain that this new world will absolutely become a reality.
Prayer (spoken by all in Japanese)
The truths and teachings of Buddha are never far away from us. Indeed, they are as close as can be—right within our hearts. The truths that Buddha taught do not reside outside of or apart from us.
If we do not look at our own self, which is an embodiment of truth, where shall we seek it? Whether we attain enlightenment or fall into illusion depends on whether or not we awaken to this truth. If we turn our thoughts toward this awakening, we will soon attain this state of mind.
Whether or not we perceive this perfect light and harmony is entirely our own doing—it will not come about through anyone or anything else. If we believe deeply in this teaching and practice it, we will instantly experience this elevated state of mind.
I am the world of truth itself. I am the law of truth itself. I am Dainichi Nyorai, the divine embodiment of the sun and universal truth. My existence is indestructible like a vajra (diamond or thunderbolt). I am all Buddhas. I am all bodhisattvas.
Asame trisame samaye svāhā. Having made this inimitable vow to see the human mind, the enlightened mind of Buddha, and all other things as equal, let it be fulfilled. [Sanmaya mantra for attaining oneness among oneself, Buddha, and all other things—excerpted from Sokushin Jôbutsugi.]
Namu Daishi henjo kongo. [The Buddha name given to Kôbô-Daishi Kûkai, who became perfectly enlightened during his lifetime.]
May peace prevail on Earth.
The Rev. Canon Charles P. Gibbs (Christianity)
Since 1997, the Rev. Canon Charles P. Gibbs has served as the founding Executive Director of the United Religions Initiative, a global grassroots interfaith network for peace, justice and healing that is active in 79 countries. An internationally respected spiritual leader, interfaith activist, speaker and writer, Charles has been blessed to collaborate with remarkable leaders around the world, and has spoken and written extensively about spiritual growth and interfaith cooperation as tools to build a better world.
With colleague Sally Mahé, he co-authored Birth of a Global Community, a book about the URI’s birth. In addition, he has contributed chapters to other books and published articles and poems on interfaith work, spiritual growth, and peacebuilding. An Episcopal priest who is also a visionary and a poet, Charles brings to his life a commitment to spiritual transformation and to work for peace, justice and healing, as well as an abiding belief in the sacredness of all life on this planet. He and Debbie, his wife of thirty-seven years who leads the Lowell School in Washington, DC, have two children and two grandchildren.
Dear sisters and brothers in peace, it is a privilege to be with you here today at the foot of this majestic and mystical mountain to serve the world by offering a symphony of peace prayers. I wish to express my profound gratitude for the transformative vision of Masahisa Goi, expressed so eloquently in these words:
It’s the dawn.
Everyone living in the imperfect world,
Polish your true heart and reveal its light.
Under the great love of God,
Manifest your power as children of God,
And proceed with vigor and courage
To construct a new world.
I wish to express my profound gratitude for the work of Byakko Shinko Kai, which keeps Goi Sensei’s vision alive, guided by the spiritual light of Masami Saionji. I offer my profound gratitude to the entire Saionji family, to all who work through Byakko Shinko Kai and to all gathered here today for your dedicated witness to the spirituality of peace. May peace prevail on Earth.
In that spirit of gratitude and with great joy, I offer you greetings of love and peace on behalf of the United Religions Initiative’s global community. We are nearly 550 grassroots interfaith Cooperation Circles, with over half-a-million members, in 79 countries. Our purpose is to promote enduring daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.
We respect the sacred wisdom of all traditions; and respect differences among traditions. We cherish our diversity as unique expressions of the fundamental unity of all humanity, indeed of the entire Earth community. As a global community, we unite to use our combined resources only for nonviolent, compassionate action, to awaken to our deepest truths, and to manifest love and justice among all life in our Earth Community.
We know, as you know, that peace begins with inner transformation that allows us to be peace and to work for peace. We understand that we are called to offer our lives each day as an enduring symphony of peace prayers that flows through our prayer and meditation, through our words and through our actions. We are privileged to be your partners in shining the light of peace in the world.
May peace prevail in our hearts. May peace prevail in our families, in our communities and in all countries. May peace prevail on Earth. Thank you.
Prayer for Peace (spoken by the Rev. Canon Gibbs in English)
In humility, gratitude and great joy
we open our hearts, our eyes, our ears, our minds,
to the ultimately unknowable One—
all and nothing;
presence and absence;
fullness and emptiness;
darkness and light;
ending and beginning.
We open our whole selves to the One—
in all times, in all places,
through all languages
and in deepest silence –
speaking to humanity:
…a message of love—
you are loved more than you can ask or imagine,
so may you shine the light of love in the Earth community;
…a message of peace—
you are offered a peace that passes understanding,
so may you shine the light of peace in the Earth community;
…a message of healing—
you are offered healing for even your deepest wounds,
so may you shine the light of healing in the Earth community;
…a message of hope—
you are offered the hope of living in the light of the One,
so may you shine the light of hope in the Earth community;
…a message of oneness—
in your glorious diversity
you are invited into unity with the One,
so may you shine the light of oneness in the Earth community.
(spoken by all in English)
May we, gathered here today, as pilgrims of peace,
and may all of humanity, hear the eternal message
of love, peace, healing, hope and oneness.
May we, individually and in our communities and institutions,
especially our religions, governments and businesses,
be guided by wisdom, compassion and commitment.
May all suffering be eased.
May all live in peace, in secure homes, with sufficient food,
ennobling education and right livelihood.
May we heal and protect the Earth.
May all dwell in the light, that all may be the light
of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.
Mr. Humayun A. Mughal (Islamic Sufism)
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, 2009, and 2011 SOPP ceremonies at Fuji Sanctuary.
I am very thankful to Masami Saionji, all the members of Byakko Shinko Kai, and all the participants for giving me the chance to speak here today. Last night, I was very moved by the card I received with many wonderful messages on it—it really touched my heart.
My father once told me that when a child feels pain, the parent can understand the pain, but cannot feel the same pain that the child is feeling. It’s the same with interfaith activities. We can understand other religions, but we cannot follow the same path, because we have our own faith. So, we try to understand other people’s faiths, and to respect them. How can we understand another religion’s feelings of faith? The only way is to pray together. Prayer is the important thing.
The meaning of prayer is not only in reading a prayer, but in trying to pray from your heart. When you pray from your heart, it resonates in your mind, which is connected to your nervous system. So, your nervous system is energized through your prayers. Prayer is the tool to charge your nervous system, gain power, and draw nearer to God, or Allah. So, I request all of you to pray with me today.
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.
(spoken by all in Japanese)
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 years, several natural disasters have taken place in various parts of the world. 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.
Rabbi Antonio di Gesù (Judaism)
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, he 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 has 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.
Saionji Sensei, honorable guests, dear friends, shalom. Today I would like to share with you an ancient teaching contained in one of the most revered Jewish books, the Mishnah.
The Mishnah teaches: “Rabbi Hillel said: ‘Follow Aharon’s footsteps: love peace and pursue peace, love all human beings and bring them close to God.’”
First, let me tell you who Aharon was. Aharon was Moses’ brother, and was the first High Priest of the Jews. According to Jewish tradition, he lived around 3500 years ago, he lived a peaceful life, and all his days were devoted to bringing peace among the people, and when he died God granted him a peaceful death. The Mishnah is commanding every Jew and every man who wants to follow his example to be like him. Let me explain how.
Again, the quote from the Mishnah said: “Follow Aharon’s footsteps: love peace and pursue peace, love all human beings and bring them close to God.”
What does it mean ‘to love peace?’ To love peace means to know the value of peace and its benefits, to live at peace with the people who surround us, and to make sure that we reach out and mend every relationship we have damaged. An important part of loving peace is to be at peace with ourselves, to accept who we are, acknowledging our flaws and strengths, and accepting them. But this is not enough.
The next step is to ‘pursue peace.’ Aharon blazed with desire to bring peace among all human beings, he was not satisfied with living in peace. The Sages tell the following story: Every time Aharon saw two men arguing he would go secretly to each one of them, unbeknownst to the other one, and tell him: “You see, your friend sent me to you. He has sincerely repented having a fight with you, and he feels remorseful that he hurt you, and wants me to come and ask you to forgive him.” Then he would go to the other one and tell him the same, so that at the end the two men who originally hated each other would make peace and live in harmony. This is what it means to pursue peace. To make efforts to bring peace among fighting parties, be they family members, neighbors, friends, or broader groups.
The next requirement to follow Aharon’s footsteps in the Mishnah is “to love all human beings.” What does it mean? How does one love every human being? Is it something that is done in words, proclaimed aloud? Or is it something that one shows with one’s actions? Aharon was able to see the Divine in every human being, and deal with every individual with respect and compassion. The Sages tell us that despite his personal high standing among the Jewish people and his most important role as the High Priest, he would humbly approach everyone who needed a comforting word or a little help. Moreover he would always ignore the protocol and be the first one to greet anyone he met in the street, no matter how lowly this person’s status was.
The last requirement of the Mishnah is to bring people close to God. Jewish tradition teaches that this was the natural result of Aharon’s humility and devotion to others. When people would see the way Aharon acted, his sincerity of feeling, and his heartfelt desire to help others, they would instantly praise God, and realizing that Aharon’s behavior flowed from Aharon’s love of God and love of God’s word, they instantly wanted to walk in God’s ways.
I know that this command that the Mishnah has for us is difficult to accomplish. I know that it requires a constant struggle to perform it. But my request to you is that when we leave this sanctuary where we have gathered today, we try our best to follow Aharon’s footsteps: accepting ourselves and others, acknowledging the divine light in others and acting with humility and sincerity in all our interpersonal relations. Thank you.
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.
Mr. Noriyoshi Kashima (Shintoism)
Mr. Noriyoshi Kashima was born in 1947 in Shizuoka Prefecture. In 1958, he moved with his family to the city of Mito in Ibaraki Prefecture. After graduating from Waseda University in 1969, he began working for a private corporation. In 1977, he entered into service at Tokiwa Shrine in Mito.
In 1994, Mr. Kashima began serving at Kashima Shrine in Kashima city, where his family had served for generations. He was appointed Chief Priest of Rights in 1998, and in 2005, was appointed Head Priest of Kashima Shrine. In the same year, he also took up the position of Head Priest at Ikisu Shrine in Kamisu, Ibaraki Prefecture.
Good morning, everyone. My name is Noriyoshi Kashima, and I am head priest of Kashima Shrine in Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture. I am extremely grateful to Byakko Shinko Kai for this opportunity to join with many like-minded people in offering prayers for peace here at Fuji Sanctuary today.
Throughout the world, many countries are still aiming to become military powers, with each country thinking that it must maintain the ability to go to war for the sake of self-defense. Those of us who pray for peace find this a regrettable situation. However, I believe that our prayers are heard by divinities around the world, bringing us even one step closer to peace.
The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that occurred on March 11 of last year caused an unimaginable degree of devastation. On top of that, it is said that it will take many years to restore the areas affected by the nuclear power plant accident. Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress expressed their deep concern following this disaster, and all of us are very grateful for their support.
The deity enshrined at Kashima Shrine is known as Takemikazuchi no Ôkami. According to legend, this deity traveled to the land of Izumo at the command of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu to negotiate the transfer of the land. After winning a test of strength with the deity from Suwa, Takemikazuchi successfully completed the transfer and is known as the deity who succeeded in founding the nation of Japan. In the year of Japan’s founding, Takemikazuchi was enshrined at the country’s easternmost point, where the sun first rises over the land.
The Tohoku earthquake caused damage at Kashima Shrine, too, including the collapse of the ôtorii, or large entrance gate. One month after the earthquake, a large talisman reading “Suwa-Daimyôjin” washed ashore at Kashima. Later, we learned that this talisman came from Suwa Shrine in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, and we returned it there. I strongly felt that the deities were giving us power for Japan’s restoration.
Today, I would like to offer a prayer for both world peace and the restoration of Japan, so that we who are living in this period of history may build a magnificent future. Once again, I would like to express my deep gratitude for having been invited to take part in this prayer ceremony today. Thank you very much.
Prayer (spoken by Mr. Kashima in Japanese)
From this sanctuary in view of Mount Fuji, I, Noriyoshi Kashima of Kashima Shrine, humbly appeal to you to hear the prayers for peace offered by the people gathered here today.
(spoken by all in Japanese)
We who are gathered here today offer our gratitude to the deities for being able to share this day in history.
In the long history that our forefathers built with the blessings of the deities, there have been times of peace, but there have also been frequent conflicts, and still today, such conflicts are taking place through the world. For those of us who wish for peace, the signs of conflict cause us great concern. We are endowed with divine wisdom, and we must put this wisdom to work for the cause of world peace.
We must eternally face the forces of nature, such as the Great Tohoku Earthquake that occurred on March 11th of last year. It is the bonds shared by people that enable us to rebuild after such disasters. In addition, scientific advancement may lead to further man-made disasters, and we must be prepared for these as well.
Living in this period of time between the past and the future, we human beings must put an end to our disputes. Instead, we must pray for world peace, and put it into practice. If we pass this on to the next generation and it continues to spread, I am sure that a peaceful world will come about.
From the bottom of my heart, I wish that our prayers today might reach the ears of divinities throughout the world.
Mr. Jagmohan Swamidas Chandrani (Hinduism)
Mr. Jagmohan Swamidas Chandrani was born in Kolkata, India and graduated from Delhi University. In 1978 he visited Japan for the first time for marketing research, and moved to Tokyo in 1979, where he has lived since. In 1981, he established a company called Japan Business Service Ltd, through which he imports Indian tea and foods, and also runs four Indian restaurants in the Tokyo area. Mr. Chandrani is Chairman of the Indian Community of Edogawa, which supports people from India living in Japan. He also facilitates grassroots exchanges between Japanese and Indian people.
Ladies and gentlemen, Namaste. Let me congratulate you on holding this ceremony today. I would like to express my gratitude to Byakko Shinko Kai for inviting me here.
The prayer leaders who came before me have offered such beautiful prayers and explanations of their faiths, so I would like to tell you a little bit about Hinduism, much as I did last year.
The path of Hinduism is, essentially, a path of freedom. In India, Hinduism is known as Sanatan Taruma. Taruma is equivalent to the Buddhist term ‘dharma,’ while the word Sanatan means a path with no beginning and no end. The name ‘Hindu’ came from the Indus River. In ancient times, people outside of India called the region and its people ‘Hindus,’ after the name of the river, so the words ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hinduism’ derived from there.
What I emphasize today is the importance of keeping the dharma in your heart and choosing your own path. The prayer I am offering today is a prayer for peace and the safety and stability of our planet. Please join me. Thank you.
Prayer (spoken by Mr. Chandrani in Sanskrit)
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 tranquility be everywhere and in everyone.
God the Guru in your manifestation
as the Brahma the creative principle
Vishnu the preservative principle
Maheshwara the principle of re-absorption,
to you my humble prostrations.
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 Sanskrit)
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.
Dr. Bawa Jain (Jainism)
Dr. Bawa Jain, Secretary-General of the World Council of Religious Leaders of the Millennium World Peace Summit, is a visionary leader in the interfaith movement throughout the world. After working closely on the World Peace Summit with the office of the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Jain committed his life to finding ways for religious and spiritual communities worldwide to work together as interfaith allies with the United Nations on specific peace, poverty, and environmental initiatives.
Dr. Jain now serves as the Founding Secretary-General of the World Council of Religious Leaders. The Council is charged with being a strong resource for and a collaborator with the United Nations and other international and national organizations whose purposes include promoting peace, harmony, tolerance, and mutual respect among human beings and the evolution of world social and economic justice.
In 2001, Dr. Jain was asked by the World Economic Forum to help integrate a religious dimension into the Forum’s activities by bringing a delegation of religious leaders to their meeting in Davos, Switzerland. The strategic partnership that was formed between the World Economic Forum and The Millennium World Peace Summit resulted in the launching of the Forum’s Religious Initiative. Dr. Jain continues to develop an integrated framework for world religions, business, and government communities to address world problems collectively.
As founder of the World Movement for Nonviolence, he conceived of the Gandhi-King Award, which fosters the practices and principles of nonviolence in daily life. Past recipients include UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, and Dr. Jane Goodall. As co-director of the Season for Nonviolence from 1998-2000, Dr. Jain helped create its second ongoing activity—nonviolence youth programs. These programs are now operating in 115 cities in the United States and in 15 countries.
Dr. Jain travels around the world to speak on religious diplomacy, spirituality, religion, and peace. His writings have been published and he has been the recipient of numerous awards.
My very dear Masami Saionji Sensei; my very dear Hiroo Saionji Sensei; my dear young Senseis—Yuka Saionji, Maki Saionji, and Rika Saionji; members of the board of Byakko Shinko Kai, the SOPP Committee, and all the staff, colleagues, and volunteers; distinguished fellow leaders of prayers; my very dear brothers and sisters—fellow sojourners for peace!
At this time, I would like to ask you to join in prayer. Please stand and hold the hands of the people next to you, as we begin to pray for all those people—the millions of people around the world who are suffering today, who are in need of our prayers today. From here, the prayers that you offer have the power to reach every part of the world. You are surrounded by the flags of all the nations. Hold your intentions as you stand in silence and hold hands to pray for those people in the world who need our prayers. If there is nobody next to you, reach out and hold the hand of God. (Participants held hands for a moment of prayer and then were seated.)
It is a great honor for me to join you here at the most sacred Mount Fuji, a place I have yearned to be at, for a very long time. Thank you so much to all the leaders, the staff, the volunteers and all of you.
Just over a year ago a tragedy of untold proportions struck this beautiful land. The effects of the tsunami have been felt around the world. Yet today, we witness the spirit of the Japanese people, who have re-built so quickly. I commend you all for being so strong in the face of enormous adversity, and for all your sacrifice, to go out and help all those in need. You are truly an inspiration. This is the character and the indomitable spirit of the Japanese people the world has grown to respect and admire.
Today, as we gather here, the world is in urgent need of healing. Let us join together as we pray for those millions of people all around the world who are oppressed, who are hungry, who are downtrodden, who have no hope. They are in need of our prayers, now. I urge you to reflect deeply—know that darkness suppresses us, whereas light nourishes us.
I see around me these thousands of points of light. This light can radiate to all the corners of the world. Let us not be afraid of the magnificence of the human. I quote from the words of Marianne Williamson:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
I am convinced that your/our prayers will have a profound impact for all those in need, wherever they might be. Let this energy from here—from this sacred sanctuary—reverberate throughout the world. These prayers can transform the world, for the greatest power is the power of prayer.
I ask you, what is the world that we aspire for, yearn for? I believe it can be best summed up in the profound words of Rabindaranath Tagore, a Noble Laureate from India:
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
I wish to paraphrase the end. I want to say: Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, lead me on.
Last night, my dear friend Yuka Saionji said to me, if you feel inspired and you want to say something, please do so. So, may I have your permission to say something that is not in the script?
It feels to me like the great Mount Fuji—Fuji-san—is embracing all of us. So, I want to ask you something, and if you agree, say yes; if you don’t agree, say no—it’s up to you. But when you say it, say it loudly—let every part of the world hear your voice!
Do you want to give up fear? (Participants shouted, “Yes!”)
Will you love all and serve all? (Participants shouted, “Yes!”)
Will you dedicate yourself to work for peace in the world? (Participants shouted, “Yes!”)
Then, we can have peace in the world! Thank you very much.
Maha Mantra Namokar (spoken by all in Prakrit)
Obeisance to the Arihantas—perfected souls—Godmen
Obeisance to the Siddhas—Liberated bodiless souls
Obeisance to the Acharyas—heads of congregations
Obeisance to the Upadhyayas—ascetic teachers
Obeisance to the Sadhus—all ascetic aspirants
This five-fold obeisance mantra
Destroys all demerit
And of all auspicious recitations
Is the first and foremost
(Afterwards, Dr. Jain demonstrated how the full version of this prayer is traditionally recited.)
Lastly, Byakko Chairperson Masami Saionji offered her own message and led participants in a special prayer for peace.
It is with great joy in my soul that we are here with prayer leaders from various religions who have offered their respective prayers, and I am so grateful that the Symphony of Peace Prayers has allowed us to commune in prayers for peace together.
As a result of each of your precious prayers of truth and wisdom, we have been enveloped in a beautiful vibration of peace and harmony. Today, we are filled with gratitude that we could assemble here, not only to focus on the prayers of Byakko Shinko Kai alone, but to learn and experience the truth and wisdom of various other religions. Here, we make an agreement that we will elevate ourselves even further, with gratitude that we are making a great ripple of peace throughout the world together.
I will now offer a prayer from Byakko Shinko Kai—first alone, and then I will invite you join me in the prayer.
Prayer (spoken by all in Japanese)
Every human being has an original divine nature—
Infinite life itself,
We are connected with,
And perfectly intermingled with,
All living things
And divinely created nature.
In God’s realm,
The world is originally at peace.
We are here to express this truth
In this present-day world.
May peace prevail on Earth.
May peace prevail on Earth.
May our missions be accomplished.