Prayer Offering and World Religious Forum II

The world faces a grave and severe crisis. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which took thousands of lives, triggered a chain reaction of retaliation that threatens to escalate into a never-ending cycle of violence. Entangled with this cycle are many other destructive forces, including racism, egoism, nationalism, excessive religious fanaticism, political and economic chaos, discrimination and suppression. The atmosphere is alarming, threatening and unsettling, fraught with the potential for disaster, including the use of nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, humankind faces a continuing population explosion, a widening gap between rich and poor, shortages of food, energy and other basic commodities, plus destructive epidemics of AIDs and other diseases. The pace of environmental pollution quickens, as do global warming, loss of forestland and extinction of animal and plant species. Frequent natural disasters contribute even more misery and death. Statistically, in many ways the world is worse off than it ever has been. The danger threatens not only human beings, but also all life on Earth.

Painfully mindful of these conditions, we religionists must seek ways to enhance the dignity of all life. To that end, religious leaders from around the world met recently to identify constructive new ways to build world peace. The meeting was the Second Prayer Offering and World Religious Forum, Nov. 4, 2002, in Kyoto, an ancient religious city. The theme was “Dignity of Life-Towards the Realization of a World of Peaceful Coexistence.” Leaders of the Shinto, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu religions attended. About 500 people participated, earnestly praying and enthusiastically discussing this theme.

The forum began with a poetry festival, which is an ancient Japanese folk celebration. It continued with addresses on three topics: the dignity of life; reconciliation and solidarity among religions, and the realization of world federation in the 21st century. Following the addresses, the representatives discussed in an open forum how to cooperate despite differences in race, religion and nationality. They resolved to overcome these differences to cooperate for the sake of dignity of life, reconciliation and world federation.

Humankind does not exist alone. We must awaken to the fact that human beings are interdependent with all other species, both plant and animal. All living things are part of the great mystery of life, forming a miraculous whole, a harmonious and interdependent ecosystem. All life forms spring from the same great origin, the highest source of power in the universe. Therefore, the dignity of all life should be the highest value. But as a result of its excessive material desires humankind has created a crisis by injuring and destroying life on Earth. Working toward a brighter, more hopeful future is an extremely important mission for religionists.

Fortunately, in recent years the dialogue among religionists has gone forward and there have been many attempts to pray together and to transcend the walls that separate us. Increasingly more people are voicing the desire for a new world order based on justice and law, not on force.

On Nov. 4-5, 1993, we held the First Prayer Offering and World Religious Forum in Ayabe, the birthplace of Oomoto. During the forum we reached the following important agreements:

1) We proclaim to all the peoples of the world that the root of all things derives from the Highest Power, and we will work to realize a life of gratitude.

2) We recognize that humans are all ultimately brothers and sisters and that the world is one, and we will work to realize a world of one human family.

3) In order to respond to the planetary crisis, we will raise the religious cooperation developed so far to the level of a global religious body. We will pray together and work for mutual exchange and cooperation.

As we close this Second Prayer Offering and World Religious Forum, we gladly inherit these earlier declarations and recommit ourselves to them. In this spirit, we also adopt the following new declarations and vow to devote ourselves to their earliest realization.

1) We will give our best effort to make the 21st century a bright and hopeful era for humankind and all creation, all of which originate from one Supreme Being.

2) We will strive to value life, to trust, love and forgive each other in order to realize a peaceful and just society and a world of interdependence, promoting cooperation in politics, education, science and all other fields of human endeavor.

3) We value the establishment of the International Criminal Court as the foundation of a framework for world federation with a set of global laws; we religionists will encourage and promote the realization of this world federation.

4) We religionists from Japan will make it our mission to promote solidarity and cooperation among religions and races especially those in Asia.

Nov. 4, 2002