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Dharma World Buddhist magazine

July-September, Volume 41

content of this issue of Dharma World Buddhist magazine


Life After Death

East Asian Buddhists and the Afterlife by Miriam Levering

The implication of the notion of samsara is that this lifetime is the afterlife of a previous lifetime, indeed, of many previous lifetimes. Likewise, more lifetimes are to come, shaped by both the previous and the present lifetimes.

Miriam Levering, Professor Emerita of Religious Studies and Asian Studies at the University of Tennessee, is an international advisor to Rissho Kosei-kai. She received her PhD from Harvard University in 1978. She has edited a book called Rethinking Scripture, a study of the concepts and uses of sacred texts in the major religious traditions, and has written many articles on women and gender in Chan and Zen Buddhism.

Modern Perspectives on Death and Afterlife by Liz Wilson

These are exciting times for those with an interest in what might happen after death. One need not be a religious person to find some basis for believing that life can persist after the termination of our flesh-and-blood existence. Conversations about the possibilities of postmortem life are drawing atheists, agnostics, and scientists of all sorts to promising exchanges with religious people.

Liz Wilson is Professor of Comparative Religion at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She is an affiliate in the Asian/Asian American Studies program and in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. Her training is in South Asian religious history, especially Buddhist and Hindu, with a focus on gender, sexuality, death and dying, and family structures. She is the editor of The Living and the Dead: Social Dimensions of Death in South Asian Religion (SUNY Press, 2003).

The Practice of Faith in This World and Belief in the Hereafter: The Afterlife in Islam by Jiro Arimi

There are said to be eight gates to paradise and seven gates to hell in the hereafter, and the Qur'an contains numerous passages that joyously proclaim and warn that people will dwell in one or the other according to the results of their actions in this life.

Jiro Arimi is vice president of the Japan Muslim Association and a visiting professor at Takushoku University Shariah Research Institute in Tokyo. After graduating from the Toyo University Faculty of Sociology, he studied Islam as an invited student at King Abdul Aziz University, Makkah (Mecca), and at Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, Riyadh, from 1975 to 1980.

"Life after Death" in Traditional Tibetan Buddhism by Margaret Gouin

For a Tibetan Buddhist, death changes - or at least can change - everything, and it is because of this huge potential that death is by far the most significant life-cycle event. The importance of rebirth is a major influence on how Tibetan Buddhists approach dying and death and how they conduct the funerary rituals for a deceased loved one.

Margaret Gouin received her doctorate in Buddhist Studies from the University of Bristol. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Theology, Religious Studies, and Islamic Studies at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (Lampeter, UK) and the author of Tibetan Rituals of Death: Buddhist Funerary Practices (Routledge, 2010).

Exploring Traditional African Belief Systems and Their Relation to the Understanding of Death and Afterlife by Nomfundo Walaza

I would like to suggest that perhaps what we can do to make our brief existence worthy is to ensure that we keenly observe our interactions with others and constantly take the time to ask ourselves if we have lived in a manner that displays compassion and honors interdependence and interconnectedness with fellow human beings.

Nomfundo Walaza is the Chief Executive Officer of the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town, South Africa. She is also a clinical psychologist and has worked in the human rights field for the past two decades. For eleven years she was Executive Director of the Trauma Centre for Survivors of Violence and Torture in South Africa. Since 2012 she has been a member of the independent International Niwano Peace Prize Committee, which selects the prize recipient each year.

Life in the Spirit: A Christian Outlook on Life beyond Death by Juan Masiá

We should not think about eternal life as a continuation of life in this world. It is a new life beyond the limitations of space and time. It is a life within the hands of God. It is definitive life and a new creation. It is not an end but a new beginning, and a new way of relating to God and to the world.

Juan Masiá, SJ, was previously a Professor of Christian Ethics and the History of Philosophical Anthropology in the Faculty of Theology at Sophia University, Tokyo, where he is now a Professor Emeritus. He also serves as a special fellow of the Peace Research Institute affiliated with the World Conference of Religions for Peace Japan.

Japan's March 11, 2011, Disaster and the Strength of Buddhism: Living with an Awareness of Death and the Dead by Susumu Shimazono

The boundaries between religions really need to be transcended in order to widen the scope for cooperation. Doing so would make it more apparent to people that religions occupy an important position in Japanese society and engage in correspondingly important relief and social action programs. It would also demonstrate that the religious spirit of Buddhism and other religions plays a serious role in Japanese society.

Susumu Shimazono is a Professor in the Faculty of Theology and director of the Institute of Grief Care at Sophia University, Tokyo, and is a Professor Emeritus in the Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology at the University of Tokyo. His multiple research fields include religions in modern Japan, comparative study of contemporary religious movements, new religions, and death and life studies. He is the author of numerous books on religion, spirituality, and bioethics.


All Who Are Born Must Die 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).

Niwano Peace Prize

The Call for a Deeper and More Inclusive Interreligious Engagement Niwano Peace Prize Acceptance Address by Dena Merriam, Founder and Convener of the Global Peace Initiative of Women

The Niwano Peace Foundation awarded the thirty-first Niwano Peace Prize on May 16 to Ms. Dena Merriam of the United States, for her leadership of the Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW). Ms. Merriam founded GPIW in 2002 to strengthen women religious leaders' roles in reconciliation and problem solving. GPIW has conducted a leadership program for youth in collaboration with the United Nations. It also has tried to organize dialogues in areas of conflict and has recently promoted environmental protection as well. The following is her acceptance speech at the award ceremony in Tokyo.

Dena Merriam graduated from Barnard College, affiliated with Columbia University, and received an MA from Columbia University. As the founder and convener of GPIW, she has been engaged in reducing international tensions and fostering reconciliation by taking advantage of women's qualities. She has also served on the boards of the Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions and the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy.


Side by Side: Notes on the Twin Buddhas of the Lotus Sutra in the Stone Carver's Art by Hank Glassman

Here I explore some meanings behind . . . a small stone that depicts two buddhas sitting side by side in the lotus posture, sheltered beneath a heavy lintel. . . . These are old gravestones, their connections to families lost two or three centuries ago.

Hank Glassman is Associate Professor of East Asian Studies at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. His scholarly work focuses on the religious cultures of medieval Japan. His book The Face of Jizo: Image and Cult in Medieval Japan was published by the University of Hawaii Press in 2012. Currently he is researching the history of grave monuments in Japan, especially the "five-elements pagoda" or gorinto.

Prism of the Lotus Sutra

Prism of the Lotus Sutra (5) The Ox / Monkeys / Sand 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.

Founder's Memoirs

Pivotal Encounters with American Religious Leaders 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 (117)

The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Chapter 23 The Former Lives of the Bodhisattva Medicine King (1) by Nikkyo Niwano

This is the 117th installment of a detailed commentary on the Threefold Lotus Sutra by the founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, Rev. Nikkyo Niwano.

Dharma World July-Sept 2014, Life After Death

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