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Many Songs, One Peace – Interfaith Music Event at the Shinnyo-en USA, Seattle Temple

Contributed by Momoko Yoshida

On Sunday, August 5th, 2012, the doors to the Shinnyo-en Seattle temple, decorated with flowers and banners reading “Interfaith Music Event,” were opened to welcome everyone, Shinnyo-en members and non-members alike for a very special event! The first ever Interfaith/intercultural Music Event was spearheaded and organized by a group of Shinnyo-en Seattle Temple members to honor and celebrate the centennial anniversary of Shojushin’in-Sama’s birth. Shojushin’in Sama, the model of embracement and spiritual mother of the Shinnyo-en sangha, represents “shoju” or embracement to Shinnyo-en members, especially embracement of other cultures and religions. For this reason, the group of Seattle Temple members thought that an interfaith and intercultural event would be the most appropriate way to celebrate Shojushin’in-Sama’s life. Approximately 100 people from various religious and faith traditions came joyfully through the temple doors to take part in this special event.  Shinnyo-en Foundation, the secular, philanthropic arm of Shinnyo-en, which promotes interfaith dialogue (among other things), contributed financial support to the Seattle temple event.

Hindu Members from Vedanta Society of Western Washington

The musical performers represented four different religious and faith-based organizations– Vedanta Society of Western Washington (Hindu), Center for Sacred Art (Multifaith), Latter-Day Saints Seattle Institute of Religion (Mormon) and Mevlevi Dervishes (Turkish Sufism) – brought in their traditional musical instruments, performed  various chants, including Gregorian Chants . Each group shared their music, dances or chants. In addition, the Shinnyo Chorus consisting of members from Oregon, Canada and Seattle sang two songs, “the San Kie Mon” (Threefold Refuge) and a “Sonouta.” At the end of the performances, everyone recited the Goreiju in unison, lead by Rev. Naruhiko Yoshida.

Refreshments and dialogue in the Harmony Room

After the performances, all participants were invited to enjoy refreshments in the Harmony Room. As the guests were ushered into the Harmony Room, they received a special commemorative bookmark that Shinnyo-en members in Canada volunteered to hand-make. On the bookmarks, there were the signs of the moon, the stars, the sun and the earth and the guests were asked to sit at the tables beneath the matching hanging signs in order to encourage dialogue with representatives of the other faith groups. In addition, Shojushin’in-sama’s 17 teachings were written on the back of the bookmarks to inspire their conversation about embracement beyond the cultural and religious differences.

It was a truly remarkable interfaith/intercultural event in which Shinnyo-en, other faith groups, and guests were all inspired to build peace through musical performance and dialogue.

Shinnyo-en Staff Members with Hindu and Turkish representatives