Global Connections

Moscow, New York, Auroville • 2011

On September 25, 2011, a historic first occurred, a real time global connection among the existing Nakashima Peace Altar and two Sacred Peace Tables in New York, Moscow and Auroville, India. Simultaneous ceremonies were held in Moscow at the Russian Academy of Arts where they celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Sacred Peace Table installation, at the Unity Pavilion in Auroville and at the original Altar at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. Readings and meditations, along with greetings from the next Sacred Peace Table site in Cape Town, South Africa were shared live in those cities through a global telephone bridge.

Nakashima Foundation Board members Julian Lines and Miriam Belov, along with the Dean of the Cathedral, The Very Reverend Dr. James Kowalski and Reverend Canon Thomas Miller and also Amrita Sandhu, a co-founder of the Sri Aurobindo Manhattan Study Group, and Raj Bhatia, the photographer, gathered early in the morning at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City offering rose petals and prayers for peace. Dean Kowalski spoke movingly of George Nakashima and his heritage. Julian, who helped coordinate the global event, monitored the proceedings while Miriam led everyone in a meditation specifically written for the 25th which is shared at the end of this article. It was a deeply felt experience for them to be in the great Cathedral encircling the majestic Altar for Peace as they were connected around the world to others in a similar aspiration.

Opening the global call from the Russian Academy of Arts in Moscow, Board member Irene Goldman welcomed the gathered guests around the Sacred Peace Table. Students from several art schools, Academicians, leading human rights advocate, Ludmilla Alexeeva, members of the Sergei Kapitza family and many friends encircled the great table. It was festooned with rose petals placed by all those who gathered in an atmosphere of peace and unity enhanced by the scent of incense emanating from a special bowl. This gathering also marked the 10th Anniversary since that Sacred Peace Table was consecrated and presented in the Academy Hall of Peace. “for Russia” as George Nakashima had written on those raw American black walnut planks. Joining together at the microphone and telephone were Nakashima for Peace Foundation Board members Mira Nakashima-Yarnall (President) and Kevin Nakashima, daughter and son of the artist, Jon Yarnall and Irene Goldman (Vice President); and Zurab Konstantinovich Tsereteli ,President of the Russian Academy of Arts,and Tair Salakhov, Vice President . Remarks of peace and gratitude were offered by Mira Nakashima for the Foundation and in memory of her father; by Irene Goldman evoking the memory of the late Yuri Orekhov, VP of the Academy, and reading remarks on behalf of US Ambassador to Russia, the Honorable John Beyrle, and a blessing of peace from the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre, Nomfundo Walaza CEO. (see remarks below) President Tsereteli and Vice President Salakhov spoke of the enduring unity between our people and the unique tangible expression of the great artist’s vision of peace. Then at the close of the ceremony, President Tsereteli was moved to express his appreciation, and that of his fellow Academicians honoring George Nakashima by proposing to induct him into the Academy posthumously at their next meeting with the highest honor of the Academy of Arts.

Many members of the Auroville community gathered in the Unity Pavilion around the Sacred Peace Table in India, where meditations were read in English and Russian, where their Russian flat bells were rung in celebration.

Clear notes of the Russian flat bells rang through the global connection joining all and then calling to a close. We held a moment of silence in Moscow, New York and Auroville. In Moscow, spontaneously at Mira’s request for a Russian song, a lone clear voice rendered the old Russian song “Wide Steppe”. There was silence – then great applause and embracing.

Read in Moscow during the Global Connection in Moscow, in their absence, the memorable remarks of the US Ambassador to the Russian Federation, the Hon. John Beyrle; and Nomfundo Walaza, CEO, Desmond Tutu Peace Centre, Cape Town, South Africa, home of the next Sacred Peace Table.

US ambassador John Beyrle deeply regrets that he could not join us today in person. He asks me to express his most sincere appreciation to the Nakashima Foundation for Peace and to the Russian Academy of Arts for giving a home to this extraordinary sacred symbol of global peace – George Nakashima’s vision – the Nakashima Peace Table for the Peoples of Russia and all Europe.” – US Ambassador to the Russian Federation, Hon. John Beyrle.

Our troubled world calls upon us to prayerfully reflect on a variety of acts of violence that have shook and devastated the world. The Rwandan genocide, 9/11 and various the acts of terror which have riddled many a cities across the globe in the recent past, speak loudly of humanities ability not only to cause harm to one another, but to devastate the only sacred resource bestowed to humanity – Mother Earth.

Each time a Table or an Alter for peace is created, we are called upon to gather from diverse backgrounds to meditate, reflect and to ask ourselves the simple question: What is our individual contribution to the attainment of sustained world peace?

Perhaps the starting point is to constantly remind ourselves of the concept of UBUNTU and the values enshrined in its noble principles.

May you have a peaceful gathering comforted by the Universal truth that “You are, because I am” Nomfundo Walaza, CEO Desmond Tutu Peace Centre

Meditation composed and read by Miriam Belov:

We thank Mother Earth for this sacred time and space.
May this gathering be for the greatest good.
  As the consecrated Altar and Sacred Peace Tables 
Begin to encircle the globe, may our words today 
Ascend in a unified prayer of aspiration.
The beauty of great trees reborn expresses
Our sincerity – straight from the heart
This autumn in the year 2011 and always.
Moscow, Russia—Students from Moscow art schools, Academicians, distinguished Human Rights Advocate Ludmilla Alexeeva, members of the Prof. Sergei Kapitza family, and friends encircled the Sacred Peace Table—festooned with rose petals placed by those who gathered in an atmosphere of peace and unity, enhanced by the scent of incense.
Moscow, Russia—Opening the global call from the Russian Academy of Arts in Moscow, Nakashima Foundation for Peace Board Member, Irene Goldman prepared to welcome guests gathered around the Sacred Peace Table with Board Members Kevin Nakashima who lit incense in a bowl created by the artist Toshiko Takaezu, Mira Nakashima and Jon Yarnall.
Moscow, Russia—Russian Academy of Arts President Zurab Tsereteli and Vice President  Tair Salakhov spoke of the enduring unity between our people, and the unique tangible expression of the artist’s vision of peace.  At the close of the ceremony, President Tsereteli was moved to express his and his fellow Academicians’ appreciation for George Nakashima and his desire to honor him by inducting him posthumously into the Russian Academy of Arts.
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Auroville, India—Many members of the Auroville community, including representatives from the International Zone, gathered in the Unity Pavilion around the Sacred Peace Table in India, where Russian  bells were rung in celebration, and Shivaya greeted participants on behalf of Auroville. 
Auroville, India—Vera played the Russian flat bells to open and close the international linkup in Auroville. 
New York, USA—Board members Julian Lines, who helped orchestrate the global proceeding and Miriam Belov, with Dean of the Cathedral The Very Reverend James Kowalksi and Reverend Canon Thomas Miller, joined Amrita Sandhu, co-founder of the Sri Aurobindo Manhattan Study Group and photographer Raj Bhatia early in the morning, offering rose petals and prayers for peace. Dean Kowalski spoke movingly of George Nakashima and his heritage. 
New York, USA—A moment of peace and silence, led by Miriam Belov. We thank Mother Earth for this sacred time and space. May this gathering be for the greatest good. As the consecrated Altar and Sacred Peace Tables  Begin to encircle the globe, may our words today  Ascend in a unified prayer of aspiration. The beauty of great trees reborn expresses Our sincerity – straight from the heart This autumn in the year 2011 and always. 
New York, USA—The Peace Altar scattered with rose petals. 
New York, USA—The banner symbolizing the unity of the four races and five elements hangs above the first Altar constructed under George Nakashima’s supervision in 1986. Detail of butterfly in center of Altar joining the two monumental planks of American Black Walnut.