On May 17, 2009 the Philippines joined more than 52 countries in the world in synergetic harmony as the Global Peace Meditation and Prayer Day / World Shift Day was celebrated with Symphony of peace prayers (SOPP)*, an interfaith program jointly organized by the Byakko Shinko Kai – Philippines (BSKP) and The Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation, Inc. (PCFI), and in partnership with the Center for Peace Education of Miriam College.
Lined with the colorful flags of the different countries in the world, faith symbols, a Peace Pole, mandala artworks, and energized with the presence and prayerful intentions of around 70 peace-loving people representing different spiritual organizations, advocacy groups, cultural workers and artists-- the conference hall of the Environmental Science Institute in Miriam College, Quezon City throbbed with peace vibrations sent out to the rest of the world that Sunday morning.
The program started off with Byakko members engaging everyone in a centering exercise called Ocean Breathing (Kokyuho) while they performed the Divinity-In (body prayer/mudra). This preceded some words of welcome from the founder/leader of BSKP and Peacemakers’ Circle member, Mr. Mario “Toots” Fungo.
The Peace Declaration of the World March for Peace and Nonviolence was then read together as led by Ms. Genie Kupang, a representative of the World Without Wars Movement and the Ang Komunidad (Humanist Movement). This was followed by the Global Prayer for a World Without Conflict and the Prayer for Harmony Between Humanity and Nature (led by Byakko members, Ms. Auchee Villaraza & Ms. Mae Coloma). These were accompanied by live noseflute music rendered by Mr. Leo Emmanuel Castro of SangHabi, Inc.
A dance-prayer was presented by Ms. Lea Tolentino of GINHAWA (holistic wellness center) to the tune of a prayer-song performed live by the young members of Kontra-Gapi (Kontemporaryong Gamelan Pilipino / Philippine contemporary gamelan) —ethnic music & dance ensemble from the University of the Philippines.
One of the highlights of the event was the interfaith peace prayers led by ten leaders and representatives of different faith traditions. They were: Dr. Shakuntala Vaswani of Balmandir Hindu Temple; Mr. Upendra Das of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISCKON/Hare Krishna); Mr. Raymond Cosare (Tibetan Buddhist); Bro. Eli Andrade of Rainbow Peace Mission (Christian); Mr. Alan Berguia (Muslim) of PCFI & Youth for Unity (Y4U); Mr. Satinder Singh of Y4U & Manila Sikh Temple; and Baba Surinder Singh of Guru Nanak Mission (Sikh); Mr. Willi Remollo of Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly (Baha’i Faith); and Mrs. Tomomi Shima of Shinji Shumei Kai (Japanese spiritual organization). Capping off the interfaith prayers was a silent meditation guided by Mr. John Dowling of Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University.
The silence reverberated with powerful peace vibrations that was felt all around, as seen in the serenity on each one’s faces as they slowly opened their eyes. Everyone was then invited to spread the peaceful energy and light to the whole planet through the World Peace Prayer Ceremony which consisted of mentioning the names of the 198 nations in the world and praying for peace to prevail in each one. Byakko members accompanied the 35-minute ceremony with the performance of a Purification In (mudra) for each country, engaging some of the audience to join them.
The interfaith prayers—combined with the prayers for each country-- brought the experience to new heights as everyone shared a general feeling of accomplishment and joy for having been able to contribute in their own simple way towards an elevated shift in human consciousness for a more peaceful and harmonious world. Dr. Shakuntala Vaswani, Peacemakers’ Circle Vice President and United Religions Initiative Southeast Asia-Pacific regional coordinator, noted this in her closing remarks and she extended deep gratitude and appreciation for everyone who took part in the successful activity.
In high spirits, the event concluded with everyone exchanging greetings of peace from the heart and sharing a simple feast of vegetarian noodles, biscuits and fruits, while jamming to the chanting, drumming and gong music of ISKCON, Kontra-Gapi, and SangHabi.
Infinite gratitude once again goes to all participating groups: World Peace Prayer Society-Phils., Integral Art Metta, Inc., Ang Komunidad (Humanist Movement), World Without Wars movement, SangHabi, Inc., Ginhawa, Inc., U.P. Kontra-Gapi, ISKCON, Y4U, Peace Rainbow Mission, Guru Nanak Mission, Baha'i National Spiritual Assembly, Shumei Phils., Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, URI-SEAP, and many others!
*Symphony of Peace Prayers (SOPP) is a yearly event that started at the Fuji Sanctuary in Japan —home of the Byakko Shinko Kai (“white light organization”--see www.byakko.org). Now on its fifth year, SOPP has extended its celebration to engage local connecting events in different countries on the same day. On 2007 the World Peace Prayer Society –International and the Club of Budapest came together to make the SOPP its official kick-off event to launch the Global Peace Meditation and Prayer Day / World Shift Day each year (see www.globalpeacemeditationprayerday.org).
A similar event was also simultaneously organized by a small interfaith group in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao on the same day.