His Holiness Karmapa accepted a last minute invitation from the President of the International Buddhist Council of India to give his support to a World Peace Prayer ceremony at the bodhi tree on New Year’s Day, specifically to honour those who had died in the recent Mumbhai massacres.
His Holiness and Mingyur Rinpoche sat on cushions in the front row with the Venerable Bhantiji from the Burmese Vihar on the other side. Representatives of the different faiths in India – Jain, Sikh, Hindu, Moslem- and Mr Dorje of the Bodh Gaya Management Committee – were all present.
The ceremony began with one minute silence for those ‘who are no longer with us on the planet’. In a graceful movement HH Karmapa lit a tall orange candle to spread the light for world peace. ‘Saddhu, saddhu, saddhu’, murmurred the monks.
Theravadin monks chanted the refuge in Pali, an evocative refrain that we hear around the temple morning and evening. His Holiness was then requested to lead the prayers in the Mahayana tradition and suddenly there were the deep sonorous sounds that come from the Himalayas and make your whole body vibrate.
The Hindu representative chanted ‘Om Shanti’. A sister dressed in white from the Brahma Kumari Society offered a prayer and then a Christian lady clad in a light orange scarf and skirt added her prayers. ‘Amen’ she concluded, and it suddenly reminded me of another country in a completely different world. The President of the Jain Society wearing a business suit added his comments. The Muslim Khan offered an important quote: ‘Saving one person is saving humanity. Killing one person is killing humanity. Therefore the Muslim faith rejects all killing.’
‘The secret of success, concluded the President, ‘is to connect our lives with the divine. If we all do this we can create a world of peace and harmony.’ He read an excerpt from the great Santideva’s poem on the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life.
May I be a protector for those without one, a guide for travellers, and a boat, a bridge, a ship for those who wish to cross over.
May I be a lamp for those who seek light, a bed for those who seek rest…
Just as earth and other elements are useful in various ways to innumerable sentient beings dwelling throughout infinite space,
So may I be in various ways a source of life for the sentient beings present throughout space until they are all liberated.