Pray for Peace and Compassion on Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday
January 17, 2017
Over a hundred community people, led by the Buddhist leaders and interfaith leaders were gathered at Gandhi’s statue, Union Square Park in Manhattan, NY, on January 16, 2017.
Amidst an increase in violence, religious and racial bias, and hate in American society, Buddhist Council of New York has decided to have gathering to express the message of compassion and peace on the special day of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who led his human rights movement with a message of non-violence. Non-violence was demonstrated by Mahatma Gandhi, and has been practiced in Buddhist traditions.
“It is important to keep in our mind the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, namely non-violence, action of peace and compassion,” said, Rev. Dr. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki, President of the Buddhist Council of New York in his welcome address.
The event, Meditation and Prayer Gathering “We Are Together!” was organized by the Buddhist Council of New York (BCNY). BCNY is an association of Buddhist Temples and organizations whose mission is to foster dialogue, cooperation and unity within the Buddhist community in the New York City area.
The gathering began with the warm Opening Invocation by Ven. Dharma King, founder of the International Mongolian and Tibetan Buddhist Center. It was followed by a Dharma speech by Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Abbot of Village Zendo.
“Dr. King is a true Bodhisattva!” said Roshi Enkyo. Bodhisattva, in Mahayana Buddhist tradition, refers a person who uses all their energy for the good of others.
Imam Muhammad Shahidullah, President of the Interfaith Center of U.S.A, offered Muslim prayer and said, “Although Trump’s policies have put much pressure on the Muslim community, I am optimistic because, the Muslim Community is joining and working together with our brothers and sisters in the African American community, Latino community, the Jewish Community, and today with their Buddhist friends to fight back against those policies.”
Later, Pastor Frank Haye, a composer, conductor and producer, and the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir, a group encouraging members to celebrate diverse cultures, sang two songs for Love and Peace.
Detective Mohamed Amen represented NYPD Community Affairs Bureau, shared his message.
The BCNY welcomed Paola Ruiz, the Borough Director for Manhattan, who brought a message from Mayor de Blasio:
“I commend the Council and everyone gathered for their efforts to celebrate Dr. King’s life and legacy as we work together to forge a brighter, more inclusive and equitable future for all.”
Monks and nuns from various Buddhist traditions, including Theravada tradition such as Thailand and Sri Lanka, Mahayana tradition such as Chinese, Korean and Japanese, and Vajrayana tradition such as Tibet and Mongolia, gave meditation, prayer and blessings for peace and harmony.
As the ceremony came to a close, all participants regardless of their religious beliefs, age, race, or gender held hands with each other and joined their voices together in a prayer for unity.
The ceremony demonstrated how the idea of compassion is related to several different faiths such as, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism and how each religion can serve to unite individuals and bring peace to the world, conveying a strong message – although different in religious belief, we are one family when it comes to love and compassion.