Greetings to everyone.
Starting from today, for the next eight days, I will be reciting prayers with you all. We all recite prayers every day, whether short or long. But I think there is a particular purpose and advantage when many people pray together. It is just as how a single stalk of grass is not as strong as many stalks bundled together. I am not saying that our individual aspirations have no power, but I believe strongly that if we all put our strength together, the result is different. These days, because of technological advances, even though we are separated by great distances, we can all pray together, and I think that is worth celebrating.
Last year, 2020, was a difficult year for everyone all around the world. Millions of people died from the coronavirus, and tens of millions more fell ill. There were also great economic losses, and it was stressful for everyone, individually and collectively.
The difficult year of 2020 has passed, but the hardships continue even into the beginning of 2021. When we face such adversity, what we need most is not just external, material assistance. The most important thing is for us to not lose perseverance, courage, hope, and belief. If we let adversity take away all our hopes and confidence for this life, we are giving adversity a large opening and a lot of power. Thus whether we can make adversity into the path depends to a great extent on whether we bow our heads down to adversity or not, and whether we are willing to face it directly.
There are many great religions in the world, and their main teaching or aim is to give us human beings the courage to dare to persevere through difficulty and to increase our confidence and joy in the search to bring meaning to life. Even Buddhism falls within this. Thus when the whole world is confronted with such difficulties as now, it is important for all religions to join forces and help each other increase confidence and joy.
In our current Aspirations to End Adversity, we will have a different program each day. Today, on our first day, our program includes the Three Daily Observances and the Heart Sutra with Repulsion of Maras. The Three Daily Observances is a ritual that Buddhist monks and nuns normally recite daily. It has three parts, prostrating to the Buddha, reciting sutras, and dedicating the merit. The Heart Sutra is a well-known Mahayana sutra that teaches quite a bit about the Mahayana view of emptiness. So today, for our first day, we will recite these two.
So now, let us all recite these prayers together with the good motivation of wishing to benefit all sentient beings.