It was standing room only at the 30th Annual World Peace Meditation, hosted by the Rime Buddhist Center and Co-Sponsored by the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council and American Friends Service Committee – Kansas City Program.
All around the world, people gather to meditate for peace on the first day of the year as the clock strikes midnight (International Dateline), and that means 6:00 am for Kansas City. It was still dark outside for this early morning gathering, but the main shrine room was full before the prelude, offered by Kara Hawkins and Stumbling Deer (American Indian Spirituality), had begun.
Lama Chuck Stanford, The Hon. Dr. Charles B. Wheeler Jr., and The Hon. Alvin L. Brooks gave opening remarks. These were followed by prayers of peace offered by members of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council. This year included prayers from American Indian Spirituality, Buddhism, Christian Protestant, Hinduism, Judaism, Sikhism, Unification Church, Unity, Baha’i, Christian Orthodox, Roman Catholicism, Islam, Paganism, Sufism, and Vedanta.
Following the period of meditation, Viswa Ammula, performed a musical piece entitled “Journey of the Soul.” After his performance, he explained that this particular song spoke of the Hindu Goddess, Kali, and yet it had been written by a Muslim scholar. “That’s interfaith for you,” Ammula exclaimed to great applause.
Lama Chuck was this year’s recipient of the Bodhisattva Award. For the Rime Center, which he and his wife, Mary, founded twenty years ago, this was a bittersweet moment as it also marked Lama Chuck’s final event before retiring. Upon delivering the award, Lama Matt Rice (Lama Chuck’s successor), said, “Your efforts sometimes get overlooked until the finality of your retirement. Then you realize what a precious gem you had all along.”
A highlight of this year’s event was Mayor Sly James, who delivered the keynote address. He spoke on the theme of peace in action. Quoting Margaret Mead, James said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” The Mayor urged the audience to continue to work for peace, to be committed even in the midst of a demoralizing cycle of violence and bad news.