In February 2020, the Earth Caravan Tao Sangha Ninja Girls arrived in Belgrade carrying the Flame of Hope. Their mission was to strengthen the message of the Flame and spread the joy of the Ninja Hope board game in the Balkan countries of Europe.
The people of Serbia made the Earth Caravan feel right at home. Along with fantastic food and camaraderie, the spirit of the Flame of Hope brought joy to all who participated. Since the Flame of Hope was born in 2019, it has helped people develop their potential, transform their lives, heal the trauma of the past, and create a bright future.
“The effects of the workshop allowed me to resolve some things in my life that I was afraid of,” said Kriss Tina, a workshop participant. “I felt more heart energy, which inspired me to offer my full presence and understanding to people that I loved. This is so meaningful and important to me. I feel so grateful and happy to all of you.”
The San Art Hostel nestled by the Sava river in Belgrade provided the backdrop to wonderful encounters with the open-hearted Serbian people. The hotel staff even offered free use of their living room for all the workshops. A Serbian journalist, named Dalibor Lukic, was present to document a report of the event and broadcasted it on the TV RTV Mlava channel.
Flame of Hope Receives Municipal and School Support
In the city of Petrovac na Mlavi, situated 100 km South-East of Belgrade, the Tao Sangha-Earth Caravan team met Mr. Goran Ristic, Vice-Mayor of the city. They also met with Mr. Philip Gusanov, Director of Mladost High School, to introduce the Flame of Hope project along with the Ninja Hope board game. Earth Caravan has been active in the municipality since 2018.
Mr. Ristic presented the Earth Caravan with a ‘Message of Peace – Petrovac na Mlavi,’ containing the wish for a peaceful world, where all children (and adults) can lead a happy life full of joy. Also, as Pope Francis did in March 2019, Mr. Ristic blew out the Hiroshima flame as a symbol to end all war and aggression, and then put his prayers for peace into the Flame of Hope.
After presenting the Flame of Hope and Ninja Hope projects, both Mr. Ristic and Mr. Gusanov expressed their wish to create a new culture based on peace and the Flame of Hope.
Mr. Gusanov was keen to introduce Ninja Hope in his high school as well as other elementary and high schools. He was also excited to hear about the Flame of Hope’s journey to the Bet Lahem Live peace festival in Bethlehem in late summer 2020. In particular, Mr. Gusanov was interested in participating with his band “Mister Hajd Rock,“ who joined the Earth Caravan at their event in Petrovac in the summer of 2019.
Ninja Hope Workshop
The board game Ninja Hope, created by Buddhist priest and founder of Tao Shiatsu, Ryokyu Endo, is the ultimate brain training game that stimulates problem-solving, creative thinking, and intercultural understanding.
Workshop participants were introduced to the game, and all the attendees were very surprised by the effectiveness of the Ki (universal life energy) meditations used to increase one’s prowess when playing. Two young girls, Andjela, aged 9, and Milica, 11, were especially impressed! They understood and explained the rules to everybody right away and became quickly good at it.
“I just wanted to say thank you on behalf of my mom and me,” said Milica, the eleven-year-old participant. “We had a great time, and we learned so much. We hope that we can meet again soon.”
In the middle of the workshop, participants drew images of what they imagined were the brightest parts of each other’s hearts (there were many hearts and smiles on the drawings). The exercise transformed the energy of the whole room. Everyone felt more connected and unified, and the huge smiles on everybody’s faces, as well as the warmth in the room, proved it.
Flame of Hope Workshop
The Flame of Hope is a prayer for peace. It’s the first physical manifestation of humankind’s common hope for peace. The Flame aims to transform all negative energy in the world into positive and create empathy, understanding, and compassion for each other.
By spreading the Flame or Hope and bringing people together beyond all borders, religions, nationalities, languages, and cultures, humanity will not be divided anymore. As part of the Flame of Hope workshop, participants added their wishes for the world to the Flame, continuing the chain of thousands of prayers and wishes gathered since September 2019 throughout Japan and Europe.
“I never experienced this kind of workshop before in my life,” said Draogor, a workshop participant. “But this was really powerful. In the future, this living room will be too small to hold (such) a workshop.”
Planting Bright Seeds for the Future
All participants transmitted their desire to repeat the experience. They were excited to collaborate and create new meetings. They also planned future joint and cultural exchange activities. All Serbian attendees of the event were very excited and hopeful and expressed their intention to continue the spirit of the Flame of Hope.