Three Wheels News – January 2007
Many of you at Three Wheels are already aware of the award winning Peace Mala project but may not be aware of the part Three Wheels Temple has played in the story of Peace Mala.
Peace Mala was founded by Pam Evans, an honours graduate of the University of Wales and an experienced teacher of World Faiths. Pam worked for over twenty years as Head of the Department of Religious Studies in a Carmarthenshire school in West Wales. She is committed to inter-faith dialogue for peace and sees this as a vital process in the current world climate of fear and misunderstanding. Her creation of the Peace Mala was born out of the 9/11 disaster but was also influenced by personal experience and witness of intolerance and prejudice.
In the summer of 2002, Pam met Professor Kemmyo Taira Sato for the first time at the Buddhist Summer School held annually in Leicester University. She told Professor Taira about the Peace Mala project and invited him to its launch at the United Nations Association Temple of Peace in Cardiff, Wales.
Peace Mala was launched with Dr Rowan Williams, the then Archbishop of Wales and now Archbishop of Canterbury, along with members of the fourteen faiths represented on the Peace Mala, on Wednesday, November 27th 2002. Rev. Professor Kemmyo Taira Sato, Eshin Shinohara and Noriyuki Miyazaki were present to represent Shin Pure Land Buddhism.
In the summer of 2003, Pam Evans met Professor Taira once again at the Buddhist Summer School in Leicester University. When he informed her that he would be the English and Japanese interpreter for his spiritual master Venerable Chimyo Takehara during an audience with the Dalai Lama, Pam asked him if he would kindly deliver a Peace Mala with teacher’s guide and a letter to His Holiness. Professor Taira promised that he would do his best.
Professor Taira later described his meeting with His Holiness as “At once so cheerful and so spiritual; so full of love and warmth and light.”
On 24th March 2003, the following message of Peace from His Holiness the Dalai Lama was received for the Peace Mala: “Peace is not something which exists independently of us, nor is war. The political leaders, policymakers and army generals who have responsibilities with respect to peace are members of our own human family, the society that we as individuals have helped create. Peace in the world thus depends on peace in the hearts of individuals.
“I am happy to endorse the Peace Mala particularly because it involves the participation of young people and also because the launch of it was led by the Most Rev. Dr. Rowan Williams, the then Archbishop of Wales. I wish the Peace Mala continued success.”
The Dalai Lama’s endorsement was the first of many that would follow..It is thanks to Professor Taira that this important link was achieved.
In the summer of 2003, Pam and her students were invited by Lampeter University in Wales to present Peace Mala to the Supreme Primate of Higashi Hongan-ji and his family. Professor Taira and other members of Three Wheels Temple were also present.
Peace Mala has continued to grow from strength to strength. It has been recognised by many organisations as a youth project of excellent practice, including the Inter Faith Network for the UK who featured Peace Mala on pages 20/21 of their ‘Connect – Different Faiths Shared Values’ booklet.
Much has happened since that publication. Many schools, youth groups and faith communities across the UK and beyond have welcomed it as a positive move towards encouraging mutual respect and harmony within communities. Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is a patron of the project.
The latest development with Peace Mala is the National Awards for Youth Competition which is open to all schools, colleges, youth clubs and faith groups. The competition is divided into two age groups: juniors (5-11) and seniors (12-18) and requires entrants to devise a project which supports the aims and objectives of Peace Mala. The project may be presented through a variety of media such as literature, art, music, dance, drama, ICT, media and photography.
The closing date for next year’s Peace Mala National Awards for Youth competition is Friday 18th May 2007. The Awards Ceremony will take place in the UNA Temple of Peace, Cardiff during the autumn of 2007.