Respecting One Another as "Children of Life"
President of Rissho Kosei-kai
Last year saw the curtain raised on a new century as well as on a great tragedy in the form of several incidents of violent terrorism against innocent civilians in the United States. In the meanwhile, conflict raged unabated in many parts of the world. It pains me to see such circumstances, in which people fight and kill each other. It goes without saying that the immediate dissolution of this lamentable state of affairs is the wish of all humanity. I feel very strongly that now more than ever the wisdom of religious teaching is crucial to finding a way for people everywhere to forgive one another, acknowledge one another's concerns, and give support to one another.
In Buddhism, we speak of prayer as the wish that springs forth from one's innermost being. Prayer embodies the greatest and most noble force--the earnest desire to do everything one can to assure that all people know happiness. Through prayer, people are healed and encouraged. The tremendous power of prayer is also seen in the many peace movements it has helped to spawn.
This wish is something that everyone possesses deep inside, and when we all become profoundly aware of its presence, we will all be joined as one . . . differences of nationality, race, and religion will be left behind as we appreciate each other and work together. Such is the power of prayer.
All living beings on earth are given life by the same great life-force and therefore live in a state of interdependence.
All people are brothers and sisters, we are all family. Irrespective of differences in race or religion, each one of us is a "child of life" who is supported in being alive at this moment in this place by a single great life-force. Once we become free of our persistence in stressing differences in appearance, once we recognize and accept those differences and discover the commonality deep inside us--the truth that every person is a "child of life"--we will be able to become aware that the world is one.
Today, every one of us has a greater need than ever before to realize anew a sense of gratitude and awe for the life we have received. Awareness of the sacredness of one's own life directly leads to a deeper respect for the lives of others.
Every human being shares in the same one great life, and each individual life is equally precious and invaluable. When we are awakened to this wonderful truth of existence, our arrogance and anger evaporate and with humility we bow our heads before God and the Buddha.
To bring about peace requires great patience and efforts. But if each and every one of us continues to pray, have hope, be aware of the preciousness of life, and have respect for all people as "children of life," then I believe we can attain real peace.
Unfortunately, the twentieth century has been described as a century of warfare and of conflict. I would like to encourage all religious leaders to make the twenty-first century one of respect for life.
I am confident that here and now, at this gathering of religious leaders for the World Day of Prayer for Peace, we will make the power of prayer a reality. I will do everything I can to see that this spirit of Assisi, which is being continued in Japan at the Mount Hiei Religious Summit, is brought to every corner of Asia.
Finally, I would like to close by expressing my gratitude for this opportunity to speak at this Forum and by assuring you that as a man of religious faith, I will continue to work for lasting world peace.
Thank you very much.