NEW YORK, Sept. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- On Sunday, September 22nd, on the eve of the United Nations high-level segment, thousands of New Yorkers gathered for the first Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace in Central Park. Orchestrated by Shinnyo-en, an international Buddhist community, more than 2,200 candle-lit paper lanterns with individually-written messages of peace were set afloat onto a large reflecting pool in the center of Trump Rink, in honor of people who have dedicated their lives to the cause of peace.
The first Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace drew thousands of visitors from around the world – representing all five boroughs of New York City, and countries as far away as Australia, Brazil, France and Japan. The Shinnyo Lantern Floating is based on a traditional Buddhist ceremony and has been adapted by Her Holiness Shinso Ito, Head Priest of Shinnyo-en and one of the highest-ranking woman Buddhist leaders in the world, to provide an opportunity for all people – regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or religious tradition – to come together and offer a collective message for peace.
"All of us at Shinnyo-en, one million strong, were honored to join with New Yorkers and with visitors from all over the world in a collective moment to work toward building peace," said Her Holiness Shinso Ito. "Our own ceremonies are aimed toward building on the prayers and values that have accumulated during the 2,500-year history of Buddhism. Our prayers express the interconnectedness of the past, present, and future. Through our rites and rituals, we honor the countless lives that have come before us, to whom we owe the present. We gain insight and judgment from them on how to live today, and how to open the doors to a better, more peaceful tomorrow."
Photos from the Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace ceremony can be found here: http://mm.gettyimages.com/mm/nicePath/gyipa_public?nav=pr196334857
Shinnyo-en is dedicated to helping people from all backgrounds and faiths realize greater self-awareness, happiness, and harmony for the good of humanity. For many years the organization wished to create the lantern floating experience in Central Park during the month of September to galvanize the international, interfaith and multicultural communities and reinforce the message that each individual has the potential to promote peace in their everyday lives.
Shinnyo-en has conducted contemporary Shinnyo Lantern Floating ceremonies around the world, in settings as diverse as Hawaii and Kenya. The unprecedented event in New York City involved the construction of a specially-designed reflecting pool, built over 50 hours, and filled with more than 30,000 gallons of water. Visitors assembled individual paper and wood lanterns by hand and inscribed them with personal messages of peace before setting them afloat on the reflecting pool. More than 2,200 lanterns were set afloat throughout the day-long event.
At dusk, a special Closing Ceremony was led by Her Holiness that included music and cultural performances by local New York City artists. In addition, to further illuminate the message of the Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace, Her Holiness honored four prominent women peacemakers whose courage and leadership have contributed to important advancements towards promoting peace and reconciliation. The peacemakers who were recognized included Mrs. Zainab Hawa Bangura, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict; Ms. Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director of U.N. Women; Ms. Anne-Marie Goetz, Chief Advisor of Peace and Security at U.N. Women; and Rev. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director, Interfaith Center of New York.
"It has been said many times that peace is not just the absence of war. But let me add that peace is the presence of justice, physical security, equality, and peace of mind – an inner peace that exists in all of us," said United Nations Under-Secretary-General Zainab Hawa Bangura. "It is what keeps war away. Every one of us here – of whatever age, race, religion or sex – can embody, create and perpetuate that vision of peace. After all, no society can realize its full potential unless all members, including women and girls, are able to realize theirs."
Her Holiness herself is renowned as a female Buddhist master and for her pioneering approach to making ancient Buddhist teachings and trainings relevant and accessible to lay audiences so that any individual, regardless of faith or background, can cultivate his or her true self and apply those principles in their everyday lives. Her Holiness is one of the few women to be granted the title of diasojo, the highest priestly rank in Japanese Buddhism. She is also the first woman ever to have officiated at a Buddhist ceremony at the Daigoji Monastery in Japan which has the history of over 1,100 years.
Shinnyo-en was founded in 1936 and is rooted in a Buddhist lineage more than 1,100 years old. Today, Shinnyo-en has more than 100 temples and meditation centers around the world – including New York City, Paris, London, Sao Paolo and Hong Kong, and more than one million members.
Shinnyo-en is an international Buddhist community dedicated to helping people realize greater self-awareness, happiness, and harmony for the good of humanity. Shinnyo Buddhism is inspired by the Mahayana Nirvana Sutra, the last teachings of the Buddha, which emphasize the ability of anyone to achieve enlightenment. With more than 100 temples and one million practitioners worldwide, Shinnyo-en helps people from all backgrounds and faiths to cultivate their true self or "Buddha nature" through guided meditation, service and the application of Buddhist principles in everyday life. For more information, visit www.shinnyoen.org.