Dharma World

April-June 2015, Volume 42Religion's Contributions to Society

April-June 2015, Volume 42(PDF)

Religion’s Contributions to Society

Active Faith and Contributing to Society by Hiroyuki Nasu

Amid the chaos and suffering in Japan that followed World War II, even the sick were unable to obtain proper health care, prompting Rissho Kosei-kai to establish Kosei General Hospital in 1952. The organization has since continued to broaden its contributions to society to meet changing social needs. For example, it established schools and centers of research and launched the Brighter Society Movement. All these activities are based on the organization’s founding spirit of liberating people from suffering and restoring the world in accordance with the true spirit of Buddhism as epitomized in the Lotus Sutra.

Hiroyuki Nasu is head of the Social Ministry Group of Rissho Kosei-kai in Tokyo.

Faith-Based Organizations’ Contributions to Society, Past and Present by Kenji Ishii

Whether the activities of faith-based organizations acting as public-interest groups evolve to become more public serving in character, or else sink into the egoism of organizational activity, will serve as an important indicator for gauging the future of Japanese culture.

Kenji Ishii is Dean of and Professor in the Faculty of Shinto Studies at Kokugakuin University in Tokyo. He specializes in religious studies and the sociology of religion. He is the author of many books on Japanese religion, including Ginza no kamigami: Toshi ni tokekomu shukyo (The gods in Ginza: Religions integrated into the cities) and Sengo no shakai hendo to jinja Shinto (Japan’s postwar social changes and shrine Shinto).

The Role of the American Muslim Community in a Pluralist Setting by Sayyid M. Syeed

The first time that Muslim students abroad saw a new reality of a pluralist democracy was in America, where they were treated as equals and their practice of religion was encouraged.

Sayyid M. Syeed is the National Director of the Islamic Society of North America, heading its Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances in Washington, DC. From 1994 to 2006 he was Secretary-General of the Indiana-based national umbrella organization, which has more than 300 affiliates throughout North America. He was also one of the founders of The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences and served as editor and then editor-in-chief (1984-94). In recognition of his contribution to interreligious understanding and harmony, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters by the Graduate Theological Foundation in South Bend, Indiana, on May 4, 2001.

How Altruism Can Solve Religious Conflict by Rey-Sheng Her

The spirit of Tzu Chi is one example that supports the idea that altruistic voluntarism is stronger than religious belief. . . . Altruistic activities and experiences have resulted in mutual acceptance and understanding between different religions and lessened the conflict between them.

Rey-Sheng Her is Spokesman and Director of Cultural Humanity Development of the Tzu Chi Foundation, Associate Professor in the Institute of Religion and Humanity at Tzu Chi University, and a PhD candidate of the Philosophy Department of Peking University. He is the author of The Philosophy and Practices of Buddhist Tzu Chi and The Moment of Inspiration and is the producer of the documentary The Great Love as a Running Water, which won a best documentary Emmy Award.

Religious Altruism and Its Contribution to Society by Keishin Inaba

Only when activities are publicly performed will the practical effects of social contributions by people of faith elicit society’s sympathy. And only when the logic of altruism is communicated to the world in a way that transcends the boundaries of each religion will it create bridging social capital that can link people.

Keishin Inaba is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Human Sciences at Osaka University. He received his PhD in the sociology of religion from the University of London and is the author of several English and Japanese books on religion and altruism. He chairs the board of a Japanese-language digital journal on religion and social contributions and is one of the organizers of the Japan Religion Coordinating Project for Disaster Relief.

North American Buddhist Support for Same-Sex Marriage: An Example of Compassion in Action by Jeff Wilson

There is a venerable religious tradition that provided sanction for same-sex marriages long before they were legally recognized. That tradition is Buddhism.

Jeff Wilson is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies at Renison University College, an affiliate of the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He earned his PhD in religious studies at the University of North Carolina. He specializes in Buddhism in North America and is the author of many publications on such topics as abortion rituals in Western Buddhism and Buddhist pluralism in the United States.

A Faith That Does Not Work for Justice Is Dead by Vicente Bonet

I am convinced . . . that we, the members of different faiths, can collaborate in our actions for a better, more human world and learn, at the same time, from each other’s beliefs.

Rev. Vicente Bonet, SJ, came to Japan from his native Spain in 1960. He was a Professor of Philosophical Anthropology, Human Rights, and Social Doctrine at Sophia University, Tokyo until 2007, where he is now a Professor Emeritus. In 2007-12 he taught social problems and Christian humanism at Caritas Junior College, Yokohama. He is the representative of the Association for Solidarity with People of Cambodia (http://www.camboren.org/) and is a staff member of the Tokyo Jesuit Social Center (http://www.jesuitsocialcenter-tokyo.com/).


Shining Our Light on Others by Nichiko Niwano

Nichiko Niwano is president of Rissho Kosei-kai and an honorary president of Religions for Peace. He also serves as special advisor to Shinshuren (Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan).


The Lotus Sutra from Below by Gene Reeves

To see the Lotus Sutra from below is to see it not so much as a protection for the nation and those who most benefit from social stability as it is to see it as at least partially subversive, from a perspective that would advocate dramatic change in society and inevitable overturn of powerful elites, both secular and monastic.

Gene Reeves has researched and lectured on the Lotus Sutra worldwide for more than a quarter century. He was a visiting professor at Peking University and a professor at Renmin University of China in Beijing until retiring in 2012, and he serves as an international advisor to Rissho Kosei-kai. His recent works include The Lotus Sutra and The Stories of the Lotus Sutra (Wisdom Publications, 2008 and 2010).

Founder’s Memoirs

The First World Conference of Religions for Peace in Kyoto by Nikkyo Niwano

Nikkyo Niwano, the founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, was an honorary president of the World Conference of Religions for Peace and was honorary chairman of Shinshuren (Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan) at the time of his death in October 1999. He was awarded the 1979 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.

Prism of the Lotus Sutra

Prism of the Lotus Sutra (8) The Red Lotus / Mount Sumeru by Atsushi Kanazawa

Atsushi Kanazawa is a Professor in the Faculty of Buddhism at Komazawa University, Tokyo. He specializes in the Indian philosophy of language and the history of Indian philosophy and culture.

The Threefold Lotus Sutra: A Modern Commentary (120)

The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Chapter 24 The Bodhisattva Wonder Sound (1) by Nikkyo Niwano

This is the 120th installment of a detailed commentary on the Threefold Lotus Sutra by the founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, Rev. Nikkyo Niwano.

Dharma World

  1. Autumn 2019, Volume 46

    Manga, Anime, and Contemporary Religion

  2. Spring 2019, Volume 46

    Is Emptiness the Goal?

  3. July-December 2018, Volume 45

    The Buddhahood of Plants and Trees: The Environment and Buddha-Nature

  4. January-June 2018, Volume 45

    Buddhism’s One Vehicle in a World of Many Religions

  5. July-December 2017, Volume 44

    Religions Tackling Extremism

  6. January-June 2017, Volume 44

    Religion and Animals

  7. October-December 2016, Volume 43

    Features: Listening

  8. July-September 2016, Volume 43

    Contemporary Ideas about Karma

  9. April-June 2016, Volume 43

    Buddhism and Food

  10. January-March 2016, Volume 43

    Dual Religious Identity: Can One Practice Two Religions?

  11. October-December 2015, Volume 42

    The Modern Significance of Meditative Practices in Religions

  12. July-September 2015, Volume 42

    Religious Rituals and Their Meaning for Today

  13. April-June 2015, Volume 42

    Religion's Contributions to Society

  14. January-March 2015, Volume 42

    Cultivating Hearts That Welcome the Other

  15. October-December 2014, Volume 41

    Buddhism and Language

  16. July-September 2014, Volume 41

    Life After Death

  17. April-June 2014, Volume 41

    Building an East Asian Community: Roles of Religions

  18. January-March 2014, Volume 41

    Aging Societies and Religion

  19. October-December 2013, Volume 40

    Nuclear Power and Contemporary Religion

  20. July-September 2013, Volume 40

    Where Does the Buddha Live Now?

  21. April-June 2013, Volume 40

    Modern Meanings of Festivals

  22. January-March 2013, Volume 40

    Transforming Greed

  23. October-December 2012, Volume 39

    Religions Coping with Prejudice

  24. July-September 2012, Volume 39

    The Significance of Religious Communities

  25. April-June 2012, Volume 39

    Buddhist Teachings on Spiritual Liberation

  26. January-March 2012, Volume 39

    The Meaning of Modern Pilgrimage

  27. October-December 2011, Volume 38

    The Evolution of Funerals in Japan

  28. July-September 2011, Volume 38

    Buddhism in North America

  29. April-June 2011, Volume 38

    Religion and the Power of Women

  30. January-March 2011, Volume 38

    What Is True Wealth?

  31. October-December 2010, Volume 37

    Dialogue Draws Religions Closer

  32. July-September 2010, Volume 37

    Tackling the Question "What Is the Lotus Sutra?"

  33. April-June 2010, Volume 37

    Religion's Role in Abolishing Nuclear Weapons

  34. January-March 2010, Volume 37

    Help in Overcoming Alienation

  35. October-December 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Prayer

  36. July-September 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Media

  37. April-June 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Health

  38. January-March 2009, Volume 36

    The Changing Forms of the Family and the Role of Religion

  39. October-December 2008, Volume 35

    The Meaning of Giving in the Contemporary World

  40. July-September 2008, Volume 35

    Buddhism in the Face of Environmental Crisis

  41. April-June 2008, Volume 35

    The Many Forms of the Bodhisattva Kuan-yin

  42. January-March 2008, Volume 35

    Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution

  43. October-December 2007, Volume 34

    Buddhism and Bioethics

  44. July-September 2007, Volume 34

    Respect for Ancestors

  45. April-June 2007, Volume 34

    Self-Examination and Peace Work

  46. January-March 2007, Volume 34

    Buddhism and Social Responsibility: Boddhisattva Practice Today

  47. October-December 2006, Volume 33

    Buddishm in Dialogue

  48. July-September 2006, Volume 33

    Religions Working for Peace

  49. April-June 2006, Volume 33

    Creating the World of the One Vehicle: The Centennial of the Birth of Rev. Nikkyo Niwano

  50. January-February 2006, Volume 33

    The Human Condition and Religion: A Global Future?

  51. November-December 2005, Volume 32

    Remembering Hiroshima

  52. September-October 2005, Volume 32

    Spirituality and Development

  53. July-August 2005, Volume 32

    Women in Contemporary Japanese Religion and Society

  54. May-June 2005, Volume 32

    Rissho Kosei-kai 67th

  55. March-April 2005, Volume 32

    "Thousand Buddhas," Sanbanggulsa Temple, South Korea

  56. January-February 2005, Volume 32

    Emerging Forms of Spirituality

  57. November-December 2004, Volume 31

    Peace Building Through Multi-Religious Cooperation

  58. September-October 2004, Volume 31

    The Increasing Importance of Dialogue and Cooperation

  59. July-August 2004, Volume 31

    Paths to Reconciliation

  60. May-June 2004, Volume 31

    Religion in Crisis

  61. March-April 2004, Volume 31

    Spiritual Friendship

  62. January-February 2004, Volume 31

    Resolving Conflict

  63. November-December 2003, Volume 30

    Dividing Good From Evil

  64. September-October 2003, Volume 30

    Common Truths: Cooperation Among Religions

  65. July-August 2003, Volume 30

    Niwano Peace Foundation

  66. May-June 2003, Volume 30

    Religionists United in Prayer for Peace

  67. March-April 2003, Volume 30

    Life is Larger Than Globalization

  68. January-February 2003, Volume 30

    Emerging Forms of Spirituality

  69. November-December 2002, Volume 29

    Roundtable Disscussion at the World Congress of the International Association for Religious Freedom

  70. September-October 2002, Volume 29

    Sixth Assembly of the Asian Conference on Religion and Peace, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

  71. July-August 2002, Volume 29

    The Most Reverend Samuel Ruiz Garcia, Recipient of the 19th Niwano Peace Prize

  72. May-June 2002, Volume 29

    National Treasure Tapestry Illustrating Shakyamuni Sermon to the Faithful

  73. March-April 2002, Volume 29

    Celebration of the Anniversary of Shakyamuni's Birth

  74. January-February 2002, Volume 29

    Religious Delegates Gather in New York for WCRP Symposium