The extremely moving mantric chants of the ‘Prayer for Blessing’ started the ceremony with drum and melodic voices filling the vast cathedral space of the Main Shrine. Thereafter people moved forward to offer their candles of light and received a gift of the small and beautiful Mother-of-Pearl plant. The former representative of light in the world (wisdom) over darkness in the world (ignorance) and the latter representative of man’s generosity of spirit. This was followed by the moving voice of vocalist, Tshegofatso Makhafola and evocative sounds of Eustace Wilken’s saxophone and trumpet.
The Abbot Hui Fang, then led the 500 strong audience of adults and children in a 45 minute session of contemplative meditation. The absorbing atmosphere of reflective silence was made up of a three part sequence of relaxation, breathing and contemplation. The Abbot’s voice, which accompanied the meditation, filled one’s heart with a deep resonant peace that seems to quiet the soul and lift the spirit.
Devotee, Ellen Steadman, commented that it was not often possible to lead a small inexperienced group in short silent meditation, let alone a group of 500 adults and children for such a long period! “It’s a formidable human experience and keeps bringing people back year after year”, she said, “irrespective of individual religious beliefs.”
Her sentiments were echoed by fellow devotee, Joy Thom, who said “the bringing together of the tapestry of cultures in such a positive environment made one aware of the collective energy that can be generated for good.” “The amazing grace experienced at these moments leaves one sound in the knowledge that all things are possible.”
New comer, Di Nemo, said what impressed her most was the way she was made to feel so welcome. “Despite everyone’s busy schedule, they took the time and trouble to show me around and explain the meaning of everything as I was really concerned about inadvertently overstepping a boundary in such a venerated environment,” she said.
Devotee, Du Mann Ying, Chairlady of BLIA (Buddhist Light International Association), said it always felt so good to come together at least once a year in mediation and prayer for personal inner wisdom and peace in the world. “As life rushes faster towards individual pursuits, that can lead to such anger, ugliness and conflict, it’s very important to come together to seek knowledge and understanding.”
A hearty vegetarian lunch completed the celebrations with entertainment provided by the BLIA Youth Group.