Nikkyo Niwano was born in 1906 to a farm family in Niigata Prefecture, in northern Japan. As a child he was deeply impressed by his grandfather's and parents' kindness to others. Their good examples instilled in him a love of peace and harmony and service to others.
Several years after leaving school, he went to Tokyo to work and there began studying and practicing various spiritual disciplines. Eventually, in one of the new religious organizations, he heard a series of lectures on the Lotus Sutra given by Mr. Sukenobu Arai. In 1938, together with Mrs. Myoko Naganuma, Nikkyo Niwano founded a lay Buddhist organization - Rissho Kosei-kai - to help free people from suffering and to assist in establishing a peaceful world through the teachings of the Lotus Sutra.
Believing that all religions spring from the same source, Founder Niwano met with people of religion the world over in order to further the cause of world peace through interreligious cooperation. He dedicated himself to the establishment of the World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP) and the Asian Conference on Religion and Peace (ACRP). In 1994 he attended the sixth assembly of the WCRP in Italy and presided at its opening session with Pope John Paul II in the Vatican's Synod Hall. Further, in the past three United Nations special sessions for disarmament, he called for world political leaders to take steps for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
In 1979 he was awarded the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion. In 1992 he was made Knight Commander with the Silver Star of the Order of St. Gregory the Great by the Vatican. In 1993 he received the Interfaith Medallion from the International Council of Christians and Jews.
He passed away on October 4, 1999, at the age of 92. On October 1, 2000, as one of the undertakings dedicated to the memory of the founder, the Precious Stupa of the One Vehicle was constructed in the garden of the Horin-kaku Guest Hall at Rissho Kosei-kai headquarters in Tokyo. The stupa was named after the founder's posthumous Dharma title, "The Founder Nikkyo, Great Teacher of the One Vehicle."
His published writings in English include Buddhism for Today: A Modern Interpretation of the Threefold Lotus Sutra, A Buddhist Approach to Peace, Lifetime Beginner, Shakyamuni Buddha: A Narrative Biography, and Invisible Eyelashes.
Biography of the Late Founder Nikkyo Niwano
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