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Dharma World Buddhist magazine

October-December, Volume 39

content of this issue of Dharma World Buddhist magazine


Religions Coping with Prejudice

Prejudices of Our Own by Norio Yamakoshi

Norio Yamakoshi is a deputy director of the External Affairs Department of Rissho Kosei-kai in Tokyo.

Buddhism and Prejudice: Ancient and Modern Responses to Hatred by Christopher Queen

Over the past sixty years, Buddhists have begun to explore new approaches to overcoming prejudice. As part of a larger movement that has reverberated throughout Asia and the West, "socially engaged Buddhists" have sought to root out the many institutional forms of hatred, greed, ignorance, injustice, poverty, and environmental destruction that have magnified the scope of suffering in the world.

Christopher Queen, PhD, teaches Buddhism and Social Change and World Religions at Harvard University. He has served as board president of the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and as cochair of the Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism. He is cofounder of the Dharma Chakra Mission, serving low-income communities in the Bodh Gaya area of Bihar, India. Queen is currently working on two books: The Fourth Yana: The Rise of Socially Engaged Buddhism and Ambedkar: How the Untouchables Came to Buddhism.

Religious Prejudice, Diversity, and Living Together in Europe by Stein Villumstad

Prejudice is by definition judgments made before the facts are known. Increasing knowledge about ethnicity, cultures, and religions among children and youth is of utmost importance to counter prejudice.

Stein Villumstad has been the general secretary of the European Council of Religious Leaders - Religions for Peace since January 2011. Prior to this assignment he was the deputy secretary general of Religions for Peace International for five years. He served in different functions in Norwegian Church Aid in Norway and Eastern Africa for close to twenty years before joining Religions for Peace. He is the author of a book on social reconstruction in Africa.

Religious Prejudice: What Makes It Worse and What Helps by Wakoh Shannon Hickey

Prejudice occurs along a spectrum: from negative comments and jokes, to avoiding members of a group, to discriminating against them by denying opportunities and services, to physically attacking them or damaging their property, to trying to exterminate them altogether. Stereotyping is both a cause and a consequence of prejudice.

Wakoh Shannon Hickey is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Alfred University in New York. She holds a PhD from Duke University and two Master's degrees from the Pacific School of Religion. Her specialties are American religious history, Buddhism in the United States and East Asia, and religion and medicine. Her published articles include "Two Buddhisms, Three Buddhisms, and Racism" and "Meditation as Medicine: A Critique." She edits the scholarly journal Buddhist-Christian Studies. She is also a priest of Soto Zen.

What a Beautiful World - So Why Do We Insist on Destroying It? by Gilya G. Schmidt

All human beings harbor prejudice - thoughts and possibly actions that are not informed by knowledge but are the result of ignorance. . . . If we are sensitized through education to the suffering that thoughtless or mindless speech and action cause, we are less likely to inflict suffering on our fellow human beings.

Gilya Gerda Schmidt, PhD, is Professor of Religious Studies and director of the Fern and Manfred Steinfeld Program in Judaic Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her field of specialization is German Jewry, with related interests in Zionism, the Holocaust, and Israel. Professor Schmidt has written, edited, and translated eight books. Her latest is Süssen Is Now Free of Jews: World War II, the Holocaust, and Rural Judaism. She is currently the president of Heska Amuna Synagogue in Knoxville.

Peace Building at the Community Level through Interreligious Engagement by Jehan Perera

Faith-based efforts hold immense potential to create peace in Sri Lanka. With the moral authority to decry conflict and the social networks to mobilize support and public action, religious groups could spread the message of peace in effective and sustainable ways.

Jehan Perera is executive director of the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka, an organization that works for a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in the country. He is also a political columnist for the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror and Divaina newspapers. He was awarded the inaugural Sakai Peace Contribution Award by the Japanese city of Sakai in 2008.

Overcoming Islamophobia by A. Rashied Omar

Is there a global and hegemonic discourse that seeks to attribute violent acts committed by Muslims to Islam yet construes acts of atrocity committed by perpetrators such as [Anders] Breivik as motivated by political, economic, or cultural factors? . . . If indeed Islamophobia is a reality in the world today, how can we mitigate such prejudices against Islam and Muslims?

Imam Dr. A. Rashied Omar is a Research Scholar of Islamic Studies and Peacebuilding at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame. His research and teaching focus on the roots of religious violence and the potential of religion for constructive social engagement and interreligious peace building. He serves as the coordinating Imam at the Claremont Main Road Mosque in Cape Town, South Africa, and as chairperson of the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum.


Refining Our Hearts and Minds by Nichiko Niwano

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


Cross-Cultural Bridging for the Lotus Sutra by Malcolm Pearce

As an international advisor to Rissho Kosei-kai, the author gave presentations in November 2011 on Rissho Kosei-kai's cross-cultural dissemination of the teachings of Buddhism, at the International Dharma Missions Symposium and a meeting of Rissho Kosei-kai's International Advisory Committee, at Rissho Kosei-kai headquarters in Tokyo. The following essay is based on the two papers he presented.

Malcolm Pearce, PhD, is the founder and director of the Karuna Foundation, a lay Buddhist organization in Sydney, Australia, that seeks to promote an understanding of the Lotus Sutra in modern and accessible English. He also serves as a psychotherapist working with the New South Wales government in a supervisory capacity to improve counseling and psychotherapy services throughout that state.

Founder's Memoirs

The Period of Skillful Means and Divine Revelation 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.

The Threefold Lotus Sutra: A Modern Commentary (110)

The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Chapter 20: The Bodhisattva Never Despise (2) by Nikkyo Niwano

This is the 110th installment of a detailed commentary on the Threefold Lotus Sutra by the founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, Rev. Nikkyo Niwano.

Dharma World October-December 2012, Religions Coping with Prejudice.

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