On November 28, the “Nara Prefecture Religious Forum–Goal of Religious People” took place at Todaiji Buddhist Temple, located in the city of Nara. The forum, the first of its kind to be held in Nara Prefecture, provided an opportunity for participants to exchange their opinions on global crises and world peace across religious boundaries. The event featured a keynote speech by Director of Temple Affairs Kosei Morimoto of Todaiji Temple and a panel discussion, in which Director-in-Chief of Tenrikyo Administrative Affairs Masahiko Iburi, serving on the panel along with representatives from Buddhism, Shinto, and Christianity, talked on the subject of prayer and called on the listeners to “cultivate the mind of saving others and implement salvation work.”
The forum, which drew 150 people from 20 religious groups in Nara Prefecture, was organized by the Steering Committee for the Prefectural Interfaith Study Meeting, a non-sectarian organization. Rev. Morimoto, a noted scholar in Islamic history, spoke on the “Significance of Buddhism in the contemporary world–Understanding Islam.” The panel discussion, which followed, was moderated by Rev. Kimio Arakawa from Rissho Kosei-kai. Serving as panelists were–besides Director-in-Chief Iburi–Rev. Eiin Yasuda from Yakushiji Buddhist Temple, Rev. Kanji Suzuki from Omiwa Shinto Shrine, and Rev. Etsuro Kinowaki from the United Church of Christ in Japan.
Citing a variety of examples, Director-in-Chief Iburi said: “We all have a natural disposition toward mutual help and a sense of awe toward that which is beyond human knowledge, . . . but they are thickly veiled by what we have acquired in the course of being shaped by the environment.” He then emphasized the importance of cultivating the mind of praying, adding that our prayer ought to deepen and broaden. He explained: “If we ‘deepen’ our prayer, we feel grateful not only when our prayers have been answered but every day, moment to moment, for the simple fact of being kept alive. When the prayer deepens further, we are able to take even sad and trying experiences as God’s blessings that help us make spiritual growth.” In regard to broadening our prayer, he said, “We may start by praying for ourselves, but we can broaden our prayer to include the salvation of our family, friends, neighbors, fellow countrymen, and so on until we come to pray for world peace.” He continued: “Our prayer is directed to God, who is the Parent of all humankind. If we make efforts to near the intention of the Parent, our prayer will deepen accordingly.” He closed his address by calling on the listeners to pray for the salvation of others each day because, he said, one is saved by saving others.