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Finding global peace through inner peace

Thursday 29 August 2019 6:58pm

The University’s Clocktower Lawn glowed with 150 lights for peace at the Otago Light of Peace ceremony on Tuesday evening.

A large crowd turned out for the event, which was part of the Dhammachai International Research Institute’s (DIRI) contribution to the University’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

Guests participate in a meditation session during the ceremony. Photos: Sharron Bennett.

One of many Light of Peace ceremonies that have been held around the world, it was organised by DIRI in conjunction with two seminars held at the University this week, in cooperation with the Religion programme at Otago. An academic seminar on Early Buddhist Manuscripts was accompanied by another seminar considering practical means to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

The seminars took place during the day, followed by the evening ceremony which was open to all, regardless of religion or belief, and which focussed on the power of seeking global peace through finding inner peace.

The Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne welcomed all those attending the ceremony, quoting from the Dalai Lama – “if we ourselves remain angry and then sing world peace it has no meaning. First our individual self must learn peace, this we can practise, then we can teach the rest of the world”.

CEO of Miss Universe New Zealand Nigel Godfrey and the recently-crowned Miss Universe New Zealand Diamond Langi speak at the ceremony.

Other speakers included Dunedin City Councillor Christine Garey, and the recently-crowned Miss Universe New Zealand Diamond Langi and the CEO of Miss Universe New Zealand Nigel Godfrey.

“In the end we can only change ourselves and hope that change affects, informs and perhaps enlightens others whether they be our friends, families, work colleagues or simply those we come into contact with, through the extraordinary connections that we make in our increasingly interconnected worlds,” Miss Langi said.

The Venerable Thong Katadipo, Vice-Chairman of DIRI said the light created at the ceremony would contribute to peace and compassion in society and symbolise global peace. The ceremony was also an opportunity to introduce people to meditation and help them learn how to discover inner peace.

The Venerable Boonchoo Ariyadhammo, meditation instructor at DIRI, conducting the meditation.

“Global peace will arise when we can realise the inner peace in ourselves. That means when we find peace and happiness within, a different mind and compassion will exist and then we will want to share loving kindness, peace and happiness with others,” he said.

Professor Hayne, the Venerable Thong Katadipo, Professor Garry Trompf, Emeritus Professor in the History of Ideas and Adjunct Professor in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney and Professor Michael Zimmerman, Numata Center for Buddhist Studies, Hamburg University then presented the awards for the 2019 Art for Peace Competition, and Dr Jeff Wilson performed some songs for peace, including Cat Stevens’ Peace Train.

The principal candle was lit by the invited guests and speakers, followed by the lighting of the 150 LED candles and a 15-minute meditation led by the Venerable Boonchoo Ariyadhammo, meditation instructor at DIRI.