Prayer Offering and World Religious Forum II
As we open the Second Prayer Offering and World Religious Forum, I wish to offer my heartfelt gratitude to the participants, who represent so many religions in Japan and abroad.
Nine years ago, on November 4 and 5, 1993, the First Prayer Offering and World Religious Forum was held in Ayabe, where Oomoto was born, with the theme of the eternal flourishing of humankind and the earth. At that event we also had many participants from Japan and abroad, discussing and praying together with a single heart.
Since then, working together with like-minded people, we have deepened mutual understanding and solidarity among different faiths for the purpose of advancing world peace. But since September 11, 2001, the world seems drawn into a new whirlpool of crisis. We face the loss of noble lives, a chain reaction of violent retaliation, environmental destruction, refugees, famine, suppression, ethnic conflicts, continuing warfare and terrorism. More over, the threat of nuclear war has been rekindled.
Global warming, frequent natural disasters, destruction of the ecological system and the extinction of various species are also examples of the pressing dangers faced by all living things, including human beings.
My great-grandfather, Onisaburo Deguchi used to say that the biggest calamity in the universe is the deterioration of the minds of people, because minds are the epitome of the universe. When I look at the world, I am convinced it is essential to promote education that values each life as a precious one that cannot be replaced, and to establish universal human ethics.
The theme of this second world forum is "Dignity of Life: Towards the Realization of a World of Peaceful Coexistence." We chose it because of our desire to end war and violence and to construct a fair international society based on law and justice. I hope the 21st Century will be the century in which all living creatures are respected based on the principle of universal brotherhood and bankyo dokon -- that all religions spring from the same source.
I pray that with the cooperation of all participants this forum will be a great success.