Otago Light of Peace
The Otago Light of Peace is an outdoor event involving the lighting of candles for peace. It will be arranged in front of the Clock Tower at the University of Otago, and open for everyone to join, regardless of their religion, belief, gender or age. The project expects that whoever participates in the event will realise their own inner peace and pass that on to others in the society so that they can find the real peace within themselves. Inner peace and the candlelight of peace can inspire people to share peace, loving kindness and compassion in their societies. The event of peace can encourage people to think more about peace and to create more activities around the issue of peace in society.
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.
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 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”.
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.
“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.