May 17, 2012, 3:40 PM
High school students Anna Shepard, Guy Singer and Ayluonne Tereszkiewicz (pictured) will visit Honolulu, Hawaii from May 25 to 29 to view the Lantern Floating Ceremony, attend a special Water Consolatory Service of prayer and chanting at the Shinnyo-en Temple and help clear Oahu’s Ala Moana Beach of debris as part of an event sponsored by the Shinnyo-en Foundation.
The URI Bay Area Young Leaders Program is one of three interfaith youth groups invited to take part in the annual event this year. Participants from all three programs – including the Interfaith Youth Council of Orange County and the Teen Interfaith Leadership Council of Santa Clara County will gather at Ala Moana Beach Park near Waikiki at sundown on Memorial Day to witness the release of more than three thousand paper lanterns into the adjacent bay.
The Lantern Floating, a traditional Buddhist ceremony, is conducted to honor those who have recently passed away, and to carry a message of hope for an harmonious and peaceful world. People from many faith and religious backgrounds are invited to write remembrances and prayers onto the lanterns that will be floated during the ceremony.
Each participant in the ceremony from the URI Bay Area Young Leaders Program presented his or her reasons for wanting to take part in the Lantern Floating in an essay. Guy Singer, 17, a senior at the Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto, found inspiration in the idea of people from many faith traditions coming together to celebrate peace.
“Through all these clouds of hate, there exists a hope,” Singer writes in his essay. “When I see thousands of teens across the nation rallying to stop the bullying that plagues kids in schools everywhere, I know that there can be a future where every person works to unify the people of the world.”
Anna Shepard, 17, a junior at the Bay School of San Francisco, said she was inspired by the legacy of her grandfather, who died on May 19, 2011.
“My hope is that we treat and honor everyone we meet as my grandfather connected with his family,” Shephard writes. “In working across cultures and faiths, we must strive to listen to different views as much as we give our own.”
Ayluonne Tereszkiewicz, 17, who is also a junior at the Bay School, said that ceremonies like the Lantern Floating provided a hopeful counterpoint to the horrors of global war and the dark side of humanity.
“By creating moments of harmony, we can illuminate the darkness—illustrating not only our need for peace, but our capacity to cultivate it,” Tereszkiewicz wrrites. “We can demonstrate our potential to govern the world with compassion.”
Following the ceremony, participants will take time to reflect on the ceremony and their experiences in Honolulu through a discussion led by Deacon Steve Herrera, an interfaith coordinator with the Diocese of San Jose.
The event will be sponsored by the Shinnyo-en Foundation, a secular, philanthropic arm of the Shinnyo-en Buddhist Order. The foundation supports educational programs that engage and inspire young people in meaningful acts of service.
Established in 1936 by Shinjo Ito, the Shinnyo-en Order follows the principles of Shingon Esoteric Buddhism, teaching that all people carry the seed of enlightenment within them. The Order teaches lay people to use each day as an opportunity to connect with others and to seek enlightenment by acting with sincerity and kindness.