By Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa
One of the beauties of human consciousness is our ability to perceive the patterns of creation. When we understand the rhythm and cycles of nature, it gives us knowledge and wisdom.
The shorter the natural cycle, the easier it is for humans to see it. It is much more difficult for a person to perceive a pattern in creation that spans centuries or thousands of years. Yet someone with a truly meditative mind can penetrate through time, and understand the cycles that govern human consciousness.
At Peace Prayer Day in 2012, origami Peace Cranes from Hiroshima, Japan were presented as part of the ceremony. The presentation of the cranes completed a circle that began thousands of years ago.
The Lord of Ash
In the early 1940’s, concerned that the Germans, under Hitler, were working on developing a nuclear weapon, the United States military founded The Manhattan Project. The purpose of the project was to create an atomic bomb. They established a laboratory for this purpose in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
“Physicists, chemists, metallurgists, explosive experts and military personnel converged on the isolated plateau. At times, six Nobel Prize winners gathered with the other scientists and engineers in the weekly colloquia put on by Robert Oppenheimer. Meanwhile, the Army was charged with supporting the work, building buildings, keeping the commissary supplied, and guarding the top-secret work.
The scientists and engineers labored on for two years. They carried out experiments in metallurgy and high explosives. They scribbled mathematical calculations on chalkboards and cocktail napkins. They worked 10- and 12-hour days six days a week then sipped famously potent martinis at Oppenheimer’s home and played musical concerts in Fuller Lodge for relaxation. Meanwhile, enriched uranium and plutonium were developed in Oakridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington.
Finally, on July 16, 1945, at 5:30 a.m., an incredible burst of light exploded over the desert in south central New Mexico. Trinity, as the test shot was known, answered many of the questions the scientists had been asking. The bomb’s yield, equivalent of 18,000 tons of TNT, astounded even the scientists who had spent years making painstaking calculations.
President Truman, meeting at Potsdam with Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin, was informed of the successful test. Soon, he made the decision to use the remaining bombs in the U.S. arsenal on Japan.
Atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6 and on Nagasaki on Aug. 9. Five days later, the Emperor of Japan agreed to an unconditional surrender. World War II formally ended on Sept. 2, 1945, when treaties were signed aboard the USS Missouri. The Manhattan Project, a mission to end the war through the use of atomic weapons, had accomplished its goal.”
The “Lord of Ash” had arrived.
The story that one commonly hears in the West is about the virtue of dropping the atomic bombs in order the end the war—how many lives were ultimately saved; how many resources were preserved. But at the same time, the atomic bomb introduced humanity to an era we were not equipped to handle. Up until that moment in human history, war was war. People died or people lived. Then, when it was done, the healing began. What remained of the population rebuilt and moved on with their lives.
Atomic bombs, however, leave a very different kind of legacy. The devastating blast of a nuclear weapon vaporizes people, levels buildings, and creates instant devastation. But the residual radioactivity from an atomic blast continues to damage the environment, and human DNA, long after the official end of hostilities.
As Albert Einstein said, "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
The Peace Cranes
Sadako Sasaki was born in 1943 in Hiroshima. She was a toddler when the very first atomic bomb was dropped. She lived inside the city of Hiroshima, close enough to ground zero that her family was exposed to the radiation. Her mother became ill right away, but Sadako never felt sick. Ten years later, in early 1955, she developed leukemia as a result of the radiation from the first atomic bomb. She died on October 25 of that same year at the age of 12.
Her death sparked an extraordinary peace movement. On August 3 of 1955, when Sadako was fighting leukemia, her best friend, Chizuko Hamamoto, came to the hospital to visit. She took a piece of paper and folded it into a crane, as a gift to her friend. She told Sadako about an ancient Japanese myth which promised that anyone who folded 1000 origami cranes would be granted a wish by the gods.
A prayer began. Sadako folded paper cranes whenever she could find the paper to do it. The staff and patients at the hospital helped. Her wish, of course, was to live. Before she died, she managed to fold 644 origami paper cranes. Her friends and family folded the rest of the 1000 cranes, and buried them with her.
Yet, after Sadako’s death, the prayer began to spread. Folded origami cranes came to symbolize the longing of people to live in peace on the Earth. In the decades since her passing, school students, peace activists, and regular people who abhor nuclear weapons have folded origami cranes as a prayer for peace.
The Sacred Healing Walk
When Kundalini Yoga Master, Yogi Bhajan, arrived in the West in the late 1960’s, he, too, had a prayer for peace. He understood how war was the direct result of people being unable to see the same Divine Light that lives in every heart. In order to help create peace in the world, Yogi Bhajan openly taught the ancient art of Kundalini Yoga. For the first time in history, every person had the right to sit and learn this sacred science. Yogi Bhajan did not discriminate based on gender, economic status, culture or tradition. The knowledge of the Kundalini gives self-awareness, and self-mastery. Yogi Bhajan often said that peace on the Earth had to begin with each person cultivating peace within themselves, first. To that end, Kundalini Yoga is a method to bring peace to the Earth, one human being at a time.
“The Yogi” was famous for his special Summer Solstice gatherings. His students would come together in June for many days of fasting, yoga and prayer.
A parcel of land in the nearby mountains outside of Espanola, New Mexico, was purchased to provide a home for the Summer Solstice gatherings. It lay about 20 miles south of Los Alamos, where the atomic bomb was developed.
The sacred healing walk is a beautiful meditation to heal oneself and all of one’s relationships. It takes place on a spiral-shaped path. Yogi Bhajan created a new chant for the ceremony, one that includes the Universal Sound Current found in the heart of every religion.
Yogi Bhajan founded a day-long event at Summer Solstice called International Peace Prayer Day. The sacred healing walk taught by the Hopis is the highlight of the event. Each year, over 1000 people participate in this sacred healing walk. They come from around the world, and from many different cultural backgrounds. But all of them are united in the belief that the same One Spirit lives within all people. We are all brothers and sisters of one human race.
The Peace Cranes Fly to Peace Prayer Day
The atomic bomb was dropped on Japan in 1945. When the bomb exploded in Hiroshima, and in the few months following the blast, it is estimated that 90,000-166,000 people died either from the blast or the resulting radiation. The social, and physical effects of that shattering event continued for many years. In the center of Hiroshima, a thriving commercial and residential district once existed. After the bomb, there was hardly anything left but an open field created by the explosion. Only one part of an exhibition hall remained standing, in skeleton form: a section with a dome. This building came to be known as the Genbaku Dome, or “Atomic Bomb” Dome. It has been preserved as a testament to the destructive force of atomic weapons. Between 1950 and 1964, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was created around this Dome.
A statue of Sadako is one of the features of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Every year, people from Japan and around the world visit the park and bring their origami cranes and prayers for peace to the statue. Thousands and thousands of paper cranes have been left on the statue of Sadako since the late 1950’s. For all those years, the city of Hiroshima has preserved and stored the origami cranes. But in 2012, they decided to do something different. The city of Hiroshima allowed people to request some of the cranes to be used for the purposes of spreading peace.
Akiko Suzuki, also known as Ajit Kaur, is a Kundalini Yoga teacher from Japan. When she heard that the city of Hiroshima was allowing people to use the peace cranes, she decided to make a request. Her intention was to bring the peace cranes to New Mexico. She hoped to offer them, with a prayer for peace, during the sacred healing walk that takes place each year during International Peace Prayer Day at Guru Ram Das Puri.
On Saturday, June 16th, 2012 Ajit Kaur dressed in very beautiful traditional Japanese clothes. In front of over 1000 people gathered at Summer Solstice, she shared a touching prayer for peace during the International Peace Prayer Day. Nearly 50 pounds of brightly colored origami peace cranes hung at the outdoor altars of the Hopi sacred healing walk. The people who participated in the sacred healing walk that day had come from all over the world: China, Japan, Brazil, Chile, Germany, England, Canada, Mexico and many other countries. Over 27 countries were represented as thousands of people walked together, praying for peace, and recognizing the One Divine Spirit that lives in all, and unites the human race.
When Ajit Kaur was asked what inspired her to bring the origami peace cranes from Hiroshima to Guru Ram Das Puri, she replied:
“When I started Kundalini Yoga and when I started to come to Ram Das Puri, I was surprised that this land was so close to the place which made the atomic bomb. In one lecture, Yogi Bhajan also taught the importance of praying for peace on this land. Since then, the relationship between Ram Das Puri and Hiroshima has always been in some part of my heart.
I feel some kind of circle was completed. There was a wrong that was done here. The atomic bomb was made here and tested here, then dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The cranes are for praying for peace and for healing. Somehow, I got to escort the cranes back to the place where everything started. So I feel something dense was processed. It came back to the place where it was started in a very etheric form. The people’s prayer made those thousand cranes. And they were flying under the blue sky of New Mexico.”
Ed Note: This article is being translated into Japanese and will be presented to the City of Hiroshima.
Ek Ong Kaar Kaur Khalsa is a writer and a teacher. She writes for her blog and travels around the world sharing the wisdom of Sikh Dharma and teaching Kundalini Yoga.