Shinnyo-en-sponsored Global Religious Leaders Conference Explores Varieties of Meditation

September 15, 2012
Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan

The conference was held at Shinnyo-en’s Ogen Training Center in Tokyo, Japan, September 15-19, 2012. Representatives of 25 religious traditions and denominations convened to explore how their contemplative practices have concrete impact both within their communities and globally. Religious leaders and meditation teachers represented Buddhist (Mahayanan, Theravadan), Christian (Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Roman Catholic), Hindu, Indigenous African, Sufi, Yogic, and Non-Theistic contemplative traditions.

On September 17, the conference was opened to the public for a series of guided meditations. Over 1,500 people were able to experience a selection of meditation approaches provided by eleven teachers of varying practices from around the world.

As an acknowledgement of the importance of interfaith cooperation and action, Her Holiness Shinso Ito, Head Priest of Shinnyo-en, conducted a Shinnyo fire ceremony on the morning of September 17th for conference participants and over 12,000 Shinnyo-en members and guests. The Shinnyo fire ceremony, based on the ancient traditional homa, is conducted for the public only a few times each year. For the first time ever, Shinso Ito adapted the ceremony to include the participation of the visiting interfaith conference religious leaders in the building of the ritual fire -- the symbol of transforming negative human desires and attachments to an awakening of wisdom and compassion.

The flourishing interest in meditation and other contemplative practices worldwide, among spiritual organizations, healthcare providers, scientific researchers, and lifestyle trendsetters, testifies to a widespread acknowledgement of individual benefits experienced by those who engage in contemplative practices. The conference sought to renew focus on how contemplative practice also empowers altruistic action.