This month in our community anchors circle we took a deep dive into the theme of 'Power of Prayer' and it was the most blissful, amazing, sacred, soul touching circle. With lot of gratitude in my heart for the Saionji family, I pray, I am able to capture the essence of it in this blog.
"Prayer is not seen with the eyes. That is why people who have awakened to their spirituality must go first, filling every corner of their life with prayer. Through their actions, their way of life, and their personality, others will awaken, too." -- Masahisa Goi
‘PRAYER’ a word that can sometimes be so charged and heavy and come with all its pre-existing ideas and notions based on our personal experiences and family traditions. For me, it has always meant that moment when I could truly connect with self or rather ‘surrender’ to the higher design. It were those moments of jumping into the unknown, letting go of wanting to control, that place beyond right and wrong where I could clear my head of any ideas of self. It was that moment when being truly connected to my subconscious or core being was possible ... Mika san beautiful describes that as the divine spark.
It was in 2014 or 2015 when I first experienced Mandala writing
at an Awakin host retreat in India. Since then, I have always been fascinated by Mandala drawing. But it was only during these times of COVID-19, the lockdown and the storm that came with it, that I fully experienced the power of it. And just like everything else may be this was also a part of the higher design.
For over a year now, I have attended the community anchors circle and while I knew and had met Yuka San, I got to know and experience Maki San only through these circle. It was the brief moments of interaction during break outs or just reflections that deeply connected our hearts.
It was after one such circle, I was having a hard, sleepless and anxious night when I thought about Maki San and the Mandala and started writing the Mandalas. The first one I did, was just a stream of consciousness and prayers… Giving my gratitude and praying for all that flowed in my mind. And as I completed the mandala, my heart felt different…
Once I wrote one, it was hard to stop… prayers, wishes, or just the courage to surrender… Every now and then, specially when I had intense emotions, I’d find myself just sitting down and drawing the Mandalas. Soon enough, it became a part of my life. Even people’s birthdays or friends marriages, I couldn’t think of a better gift than writing a prayer mandala for them.
We are so grateful to Maki San, Rika San and Yuka San who made this much more than just a mandala prayer circle and shared pearls of wisdom from their life experiences.
Maki San, Rika San and Yuka San’s Journey and experiences with prayer: Video
Video transcript :
Hello everyone, my name is Maki and
I am so grateful for Trishna and Sachi to invite us to this theme of prayers. I am grateful to have this time together with all of you. I have been joining the anchor circle for a long time and every time when I am in the circle I connect to my true source and I feel, I receive so much power and energy from all of you because you are really living and shining your divine spark. We truly believe that through our prayer we can do that. But you are holding different kind of tools to live this divine spark in your life. I learn so much from this community and so I really appreciate and I am so honoured that we are able to share the gift and some of the learning that we have learned through our journey to you because I have been taught so much from you.
Today, we will hold the circle with two of my sisters Rika Yoshikawa and Yuka Matsuura.I hope we have a precious time together.
We three of us have been raised in a family that really pressures peace and prayers. Since we were little we have been raised up with a prayer May Peace Prevail on Earth
and this prayer was brought to us by our grandparents Masahisa Goi nearly 80 years ago. My grandfather was 28 years old when an atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and through the experience of this devastation he came up with a prayer, May Peace Prevail on Earth
and start to live his life as a peacemaker and a spiritual teacher. There was so much suffering and pain after the war that my grandfather's teaching and prayers really helped people heal themselves and comfort many people in Japan.
He supported people who were in poverty and hunger but every time after he helped people who were in physical hardship he taught people about this prayer. He repeatedly told people you can ask for your own desire and wishes through prayer but after you pray for your own happiness and peace please take time to pray for the peace of the earth because each one of us is part of earth and we are one in humanity. Wishing for the peace of the earth is same as wishing for your own peace.
So, he has repeatedly taught this prayer to all the people who asked for his help.
My grandfather has passed down his legacy and teaching to my mother Masami Saionji and this is the reason why the prayer May Peace Prevail on Earth
has been with the three of us since we were small.
But my mother who became the spiritual leader of the peace organisation after my grandfather has passed away has always always told us that true prayer is the process which awakens us to our human identity and prayer is a way to let us connect to our source. She does not say that prayer is the result but it is just the process to connect us to who we truly are.
So, it is important that we do not put focus on how many times we pray each day or how long we pray each day. But the important point is that we live this prayer and that the prayer is just the tool to connect ourselves to our origin which is the divine spark and to live our origin in our daily life.
So I, was really happy to hear Sachi's share about her Mandala experience. Because Mandala writing is not just creating the Mandala, it is not a result but the process of creating the Mandala really truly awakens your spirit, truly helps you to connect with the origin which helps you to live that origin in your daily life.
You may have heard Rumi saying ‘You are not a drop in the ocean but you are the entire ocean in the drop’. And my mother says a similar thing, she says, ‘we are not just a spark of the divine but we are divine itself’
and we have to use our infinite wisdom, infinite power, infinite love and infinite energy to live this divine spark that is rooted in ourselves through our daily life. So for me, prayer is a tool to connect with myself, my true self and to always align myself with my true self which is my divine spark.
So when i loose the connecting with my true self, like when my consciousness becomes focussed in the physical world and materialistic mind, I take time to pray to remember that I am not material but spiritual. And that I am not physical being having spiritual experience but I am a spiritual being having physical experiences.
When I realise that I am spiritual being having physical experiences, I can start to appreciate all the experiences that happen in my life. Good ones of course but even the difficult ones as well. Because I know that my spirit wants to have a variety of physical experiences and that these experiences would uplift my spirituality.
So, let me share my story that talks about this. The other day, I received big criticism about the work that I do from a person who I have just only met once. And it was very very painful criticism, I was really hurt. So I cried for a few hours after I received these hurtful words and after I cried I told myself, I need to align myself with my divine spark, my origin and to understand the true meaning of this experience. So I prayed for the peace to be brought back into my life and also I prayed for the peace of the world. But when I prayed for the peace of the world, the person who criticised me their face came up in my head and there really really was truly an unpleasant feeling. I did not understand why when I prayed for the peace of the world, all of a sudden this person who criticised me and hurt me, his face appeared in my head. But, I know that I am not a physical being and I know that I am not this discomfort or unpleasant feeling but I am the person who is watching all these experiences and that I am more than the physical being. So, I continued this prayer to pray for the peace of the world. And as I continued this prayer, May Peace Prevail on Earth
, May Peace Prevail on Earth…
my discomfort started to dissolve, the face of the person started to blur out and an enquiring mind started to take over my unpleasant feeling and as this happened the voice and thought of ‘Why me ? What have I done to deserve this?’ started to quiet down. New voice and thought which is like ‘what is this experience teaching me? What do I learn from this pain took over my mind.’ And when the enquiring mind started to appear, I started to think about what kind of action I can take to uplift my spirituality? I started to write an email to this person who has badly criticised me and made an appointment to visit his home to talk about this incident. I was so scared about making this decision into action because this choice may hurt me even more. But I knew, the only way to heal my pain is not to criticise this person or to justify myself but do something so that my spirit will learn through this experience. So, on the way to this persons house so many incidences happened but to make my long story short, by having two hours of sharing and our life journey and our feeling about this incident with this person, I understood the reason why he criticised me and I was able to widen my perspective because of this person. Because I received deep lesson from the incident, I was even able to appreciate and bond with this person at the very end.
When I look back at this incident, change of my consciousness which has occurred was created when I made time to pray for myself and pray for the peace of the world.
My mother has always taught me that we all have this infinite within ourselves. We can all make peace in ourselves instantly because we are divine spark but we need time to connect to this part of ourselves to understand this. So, until all humanity makes time to make peace with themselves and connect it to their divine spark we who know about this truth, will pray for the peace of the world on behalf of all the humanity. When I heard her say that ;we will pray on behalf of humanity’, I was kind of overwhelmed because until all the humanity makes peace with themselves and makes time to pray for peace we will do on behalf of humanity, was too big of a responsibility for me. I felt like a huge stone has dropped on my head. I felt like, why do I have to pray on behalf of humanity at first. But, I experienced these lessons throughout my life and when I make time to pray for world peace, when I understand that prayer helped me to connect with my true self which is peace itself, I realised that, I may be praying on behalf of humanity when I pray for the peace of the world because I am part of humanity and when I am actually praying for the peace of the world I am actually praying for myself which is part of humanity myself.
Like my grandfather has told us, praying for the world peace is truly praying for my peace and opening the door and guiding to learn how to lead a peaceful life. So, for me prayer is not a method or a structure or something that has shape or certain ways to do but prayer is word and thought and action that create peace through my existence.
So, this is my story and my definition of prayer and I think all of us here has different definition of prayer. I truly look forward to learning from each one of you about other tool or idea about prayer.
So to start our sharing time and our wisdom, I want to hear the voice of my two sisters who were raised in the same environment but probably had a different perspective about prayer.
Thank you for making time to have this circle with all of us and listen to our experiences or message for prayer. As Maki mentioned about her experience and prayer, it's a similar process for me too. I grew up with the prayer may May Peace Prevail on Earth
from a very very young age and at that point I kept saying because my parents suggested us to say it or my grandfather suggested us to say it. So, as I grew up I would just say May Peace Prevail on Earth
, and I would think it's a nice prayer, it sounds nice, of course.
No one would deny it. If I asked my friends to pray, they would just say it's a nice prayer there is nothing to deny about. But as I got older, I had experiences in life, I recognised that slowly this prayer really showed me who I truly am. What I mean is that when I was saying this is a nice prayer, I was thinking that the prayer is further away from me. The prayer is very separate from me and I am a powerless person praying. Oh, I hope that peace will manifest in the world. But as I experienced who I truly am and kept saying that, I noticed that this is my true voice, my true desire and a deep calling within myself. It is not just a wish that is far away but a true calling, true being, my true voice and when this true voice started coming out and praying for the peace of the world, everything started to align together.
My experience, my relationship how I see myself. I used to see myself as powerless, worthless person who I cannot do so much. But, when I started really hearing this calling thats coming from deep inside, I am a part of this, this is my true path, true voice and when I started praying from this place its very interesting my reality started to change and align together. I see peace in everyone and I see peace in many places where I did not see.
This is my experience that prayers can manifest in different ways when you start hearing what that prayer has. The power that it has. The sound and vibration really really affects your physical being and your divine being. Thank you for listening to my experience.
Yuka San :
If we are talking about the experience of prayer, there was this one time where I was just 17 or 18 years old and we were praying in this prayer field that we always pray. It is inside a specific room where my parents and few of our staff members were praying together and suddenly my whole body started to shake and my whole body was sensing something greater and I was overwhelmed and I felt my soul shaking with joy and bliss. But at the same time I started crying. I started crying so much and I din't know what to do but I knew that it was like an experience of love and light. Light coming through me but my mind was saying, ‘oh my gosh, Yuka you are so weird, oh that is so crazy stop stop crying.. ok please everyone's going to think you are so weird, there is no reason to cry why are you crying.’
So, I have this experience of my body and my soul being in one with this energy of the divine but at the same time realising that our brain stops us from understanding it. I remember in our retreats at service space there was a quote "the mind knows tomorrow what the heart knows today"
and to me that quote was very similar to my experience.
I remember, Gary Zukav sharing a story of Sufism. How the sufi's dance in the circle but in the beginning, the first stage they say they dance to God. But the second stage, they say, they dance with God and at the last stage, they say, they dance as God. And I really loved the stages because that is exactly the experience I am having with my prayer. Like Rika said, in the beginning it was just words and it was a lovely word and it's like, ok, I will just pray to God, May Peace Prevail on Earth
, it was something I was hoping I was sharing on the outside. But then this experience that I was having while I was praying, I was feeling as if the despair was with god. And then, there was this vibration where its not words it is beyond words. It's really the energy of May Peace Prevail on Earth
, is a part of God's will. By doing it you are with god itself. And that was the kind of experience, I had. Then, you start to understand that it just not just words or just a good hope or wish, it's just the energy and you are connecting to that energy source by saying May Peace Prevail on Earth
. Then you realise that there is no separating with the divine and oneself either any more and you are just entering into that space of pure love and pure energy and peaceful vibration.
But these layers keep changing and one day you feel that way and I have never felt this blissful experience until now. I haven't had the same experience since I was 17-18, but I am learning little by little of these stages that we can take with our prayers. Thank you for listening.
Every word of what Maki San, Rika san and Yuka san took us to the depth of our own prayers, our own true self and or own source. For a lot of us it was like we saw our faith in this higher power through a completely different lens, even though deep down we knew it, we had not heard or made sense of it in so many words.
Followed by this amazing sharing, we entered the break out rooms to share reflections on the seed question: What is your experience of connecting with something greater than yourself?
And in the second part, we had an experiential practice of a gratitude gratitude prayer to elements of nature.
Instructions of the Nature Prayer :
Highlights from the popcorn sharing :
So grateful to Maki for sharing prayers. Praying to the smallest things. Loved the movement of it.
In our culture, prayer is so passive as we sit and pray but this was so rhythmic and you feel it and to imagine so many people must be doing it together it would be like a beautiful dance of gratitude to all beings.
Grateful for the space, the sacredness and one thing I loved was the addition of the word ‘dear'. I never thought elements of nature with all their magnanimity could be called dear.
In our group the beginning seed question was so beautiful to hear everyone's experience. Each one's stories were so powerful and beautiful and there was a connection between the stories and it was at a time when everyone was serving for others. It was about having a collective meditation where they felt oneness with people around them or with nature and with the divine. I was just moved to hear everyone's stories and see their commonalities.
Thank you for the common experience
reflect we are all connected to nature and we are nothing without nature. We all consider nature shows us the way of how we should live, how we should think and being together is community because in nature all plants and all animals need to be very good neighbours with each other so that they can survive, so, I think this is the wonderful aspect to reflect from that.
I din't grow up with prayers and I came across prayers here and there in my life but somehow, I din't feel it seriously. So, there are sometimes that I believed prayers were a formality. It did not entail the spirituality within prayer. The older we become the more we feel strongly that we are very much the spiritual dimension within each of us. There is a quiet and strong calling within me then I have searched for that without being able to name my need as well as how to express it. I came across meditation in 2015 and that's how I learned to name it. Thank you for mandala exercise, for me I did not learn to say the prayer verbally or non verbally. Making a mandala is another way to express my soul and my inner needs. Just like someone who doesn't speak very well then may be the person who writes really well. For me, when it came through prayers and do it in another way then it really brought peace alive and present. I wish I knew this very powerful exercise last year when I was in a breakdown with academic life and I dint know what to do. I was going through a tough time and I wish, I knew something besides meditation or sitting in silence. Just recently in central region of Vietnam, we encountered 3-4 floodings and typhoons that claimed more than 300 lives and thousands of lives of animals and it was very hard on us. We dint know if we will be alive tomorrow, when you know a big storm is coming, you are not sure if you will survive the next moment or the next day, so the only thing you can do is connect yourself with the inner voice which is prayer.
I did somehow connect to some mantra about peace and that is how I went to that tough time with more resilience and was able to offer my mom and my family and my community more calmness in a tough time. Thank you for the collective energy and bringing up very meaningful theme for all of us.
I prayed for the humanity but never on behalf of the humanity. It was beautiful.
Another prayer with Yuka San : May peace be with …
Video transcript :
Yuka San : Maki san came up with this method of prayer and of course in the Byakko tradition we always say May Peace Prevail on earth
and we pray for all the countries in the world alphabetically but Maki was saying there are people and places that we are really drawn to and called to pray. Each one of you call out a place or people who you want to send your prayer to and we as a collective will all pray together for that person or people or tradition or culture or whatever you'd like to pray for. The intention is to send prayers on behalf of humanity as a collective, keep praying for the places.
We take turns to call out who we would like to send our prayers to. For example, when it is your turn you can call out saying America or children who are abused or Trump or refugees.. there is no limits to who or where you want send your prayer to. It can be people, places, circumstance, specific culture, anything.
Once you call out we all together say our prayer … May peace be in_____________.
Yuka San, shared this beautiful wisdom note:
Whenever we pray my mom always says that prayer is an energy and so whenever we are collectively praying it really becomes the light of energy and the light of energy is being sent. All of this collective prayers, we sent to so many different places and into the whole world I really truly believe and know and experience that those prayer has been given a seed and a light to those people we called out to.
Maki San ended our time together by sharing:
I really believe that there is no one who disagrees with peace.. Everyone wants to create peace in themselves and in the world but the process we do, the world is telling us that we are not walking the right way to create peace.
One thing, my grandfather said when we pray for the peace of the world and when we pray for our own peace even though I pray really really hard to ask for peace in my own self, if there are 20 people in the room and if I ignore 19 people and I just wish for peace for myself while 19 other people are wishing for their own peace then we are just separating ourselves. And then peace wont prevail and may be there will be fights because our ego's will clash. But when I pray for 19 other people’s happiness and other 19 people pray for other 19 people’s happiness and peace, what happens is that we all become peace and this is the teaching the laddership mind is holding so that everyone can go to a different stage. It's not only me climbing up.
This prayer, May Peace Prevail on Earth
holds a similar energy as Service Space because it is about being a ladder and thats why I resonate with this group. I am so honoured to share this prayer with each one of you because I know that you are living this in very different ways and I am living this way through my prayers but I really get power from each one of you because you are being ladders to different part of the world in different ways. I think it is so important that we have our own speciality and we help each other through our own specialty and so I am just deeply deeply appreciating each one of us and I am so happy to be connecting with you with prayers today. I look forward to meeting each one of you in the next call. Thank you so much. It was very beautiful to know that we were sending the collective energy out to all these different places that we have all felt in our heart.
In the end, there was nothing left to say... Just lots of gratitude and prayers in our hearts :)
On Nov 12, 2020 Trishna Shah wrote:
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