Hsi Lai Temple welcomed in the new year by hosting both the annual Prayer for World Peace Ceremony with leaders from various religions, and the New Year’s Concert performed by the Buddha’s Light Youth Symphony Orchestra (BLYSO). The live-streamed event gathered approximately a thousand from Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Christian, and Muslim faiths virtually, with a unified purpose, to pray for world peace and reignite a sense of hope. For two years, the ongoing global pandemic has helped humanity understand the importance of unity better than ever. Peaceful coexistence of different religions can transcend national borders with true kindness and compassion. As Venerable Master Hsing Yun, founder of Fo Guang Shan Monastery, once said, “We must embrace similarities and celebrate differences”.
Father Alexei Smith from Saint Andrew Church offered the first prayer, inspiring in us “a dream of renewed encounter, dialogue, justice, and peace.” Sandhus from BAPS prayed for peace to prevail everywhere, and thanked all healthcare workers and public safety officers for keeping us safe throughout the ongoing pandemic. Rev. Dr. Jolene Cadenbach of Arcadia Congregational United Church of Christ followed, offering her compassion and noting that regardless of our race, religion, or social status, we must unite to internalize peace and let love and understanding triumph. Imam Fawaz Elmasri of the Arcadia Muslim Congregation resonated words of loving-kindness with the need to reconcile differences and make peace our lifelong objective.
Ven. Abbot Hui Dong shared the last prayer, sending his sincere wishes for the great and compassionate Buddha to bless all sentient beings with harmony and bestow peace upon the world. All participants were invited to join together for a moment of silence, reminding ourselves that within the chaos of the world lies a bright, warm light. The 27th Prayer for World Peace Ceremony officially concluded with a special song, “Love and Peace,” composed from words of wisdom by Venerable Master Hsing Yun.
Under the direction of conductor Isaiah Castro, BLYSO from Fo Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple presented a magnificent New Year concert welcoming 2022 with great optimism. Four classical pieces and two Buddhist pieces conveyed messages of peace and hope, including the Song of Fo Guang Shan, the Song of Dharma Propagator, Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, and Finlandia, Op. 26, composed by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. BLYSO was formed in 1993 to help spread Dharma joy by combining the beauty of Buddhist music with classical Western music. The Prayer for World Peace Ceremony and the New Year Concert brought people of various faiths together to stride towards peace — coming together is a start, staying as one is progress, and working in unison is true success! May we continue to settle our minds and enhance world peace for a happy, harmonious, healthy 2022 and beyond.