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Dharma World Buddhist magazine

October-December, Volume 41

content of this issue of Dharma World Buddhist magazine


Buddhism and Language

Buddhism and Language: The Lotus Sutra by Gene Reeves

Broadly speaking, I think there are at least two reasons behind the Lotus Sutra's positive view of language, behind its admonition to have faith in and seek to understand the truthful words of the Buddha: its positive view of nearly everything, and its teaching of skillful means.

Gene Reeves has done research and lectured on the Lotus Sutra worldwide for more than a quarter century. He was a visiting professor at the University of Peking 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).

Embodying Buddha-Speech by Natalie Gummer

If "reading" can lead to . . . radical transformations - if reading is a process of incorporating buddha-speech - then it entails much more than silent engagement with the meaning of the text. The practices advocated in the sutras offer the listener a pathway toward the progressive incorporation of the text, one that invites repeated and ever-more-intense engagement with its words.

Natalie Gummer is a literary and cultural historian of Buddhism with a PhD from Harvard University. She is currently Professor of Religious Studies at Beloit College, Wisconsin. Her research examines the performative aspects of Mahayana Buddhist sutras and the ethics of reading, with a focus on Buddhist literary culture in premodern South Asia. She is coeditor of Defining Buddhism(s): A Reader, and the author of several articles on Mahayana Buddhist sutras and textual practices.

A Buddhist Paradigm of Language by Dennis Hirota

For Pure Land Buddhists, the way leads not through dispelling discriminative thought and speech by meditative praxis but precisely in and through language.

Dennis Hirota is Professor Emeritus of Shin Buddhist Studies at Ryukoku University, Kyoto. He was Head Translator of The Collected Works of Shinran (1997) and has published several books on Japanese Buddhist thought, including No Abode: The Record of Ippen (1997), Wind in the Pines: Classic Writings of the Way of Tea as a Buddhist Path (1995), Shinran: shukyo gengo no kakumeisha (1998), and Asura's Harp: Engagement with Language as Buddhist Path (2006). He is currently completing a book on Shinran's thought in the light of Heidegger.

Subverting Words: Impasse and Breakthrough in Zen Koan Practice by Ruben L. F. Habito

Koans are not about doctrinal content, nor are they moral guidelines or ritual performance. Rather, they are to be taken as configurations of words whose entire function is to overturn the conventional use of words and lead a spiritual seeker toward a transformative experience.

Ruben L. F. Habito teaches world religions and spirituality at the Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, and serves as Guiding Teacher of the Maria Kannon Zen Center, both in Dallas, Texas.

Buddhism and Language: Thoughts on the Relationship between Word, Writing, and Performance in Buddhist Cultural History by Brian Ruppert

Just as the Gospel of John offered a new interpretation of language with its discourse of logos at the time of its completion near the end of the first century CE, the appearance of the Mahayana sutras constituted a watershed moment in the history of the ritual and narrative role of language in Buddhist belief and practice.

Brian Ruppert, PhD (Princeton), is Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Department of Religion, University of Illinois. He is the author of Jewel in the Ashes: Buddha Relics and Power in Early Medieval Japan (Harvard University Press, 2000), "Buddhism in Japan" (in Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed., Macmillan Reference, 2005), "Buddhism and Law in Japan" (in Buddhism and Law: An Introduction, Cambridge University Press, 2014), and numerous articles in Japanese. He is coauthor of the forthcoming A Cultural History of Japanese Buddhism (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015).

Why Gautama Buddha Hesitated to Preach: Challenging the Constraints of Language in Buddhism by Hiroyuki Sato

Buddhism's establishment is . . . inextricably tied up with words in a relationship based not on the belief that everything can be conveyed through words but on the determination to push words to their limit precisely because Buddhism recognizes that words cannot convey everything.

Hiroyuki Sato, LittD in Indian Philosophy and Buddhist Studies, is a Professor in the Faculty of Human Sciences in the Distance Learning (Correspondence) Division of Musashino University, Tokyo, where he teaches Buddhist Studies. He is a research fellow at the university's Institute of Buddhist Culture and serves as a councilor of the Japanese Association for Comparative Philosophy. He is the author of many books and articles on Buddhism and Indian philosophy.


Words Connect Us with 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).


Jewish and Buddhist Responses to Violence by Harold Kasimow

In spite of the radical differences between the Buddhist and Jewish religious traditions, their responses to violence are surprisingly similar. The profound reverence for life that Nikkyo Niwano stresses in his book A Buddhist Approach to Peace is as central to Judaism as it is to Buddhism.

Harold Kasimow is the George A. Drake Professor of Religious Studies Emeritus at Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa. This article is a revised version of an article originally published in Interreligious Insight: A Journal of Dialogue and Engagement 2, no. 22 (April 2004). Among his previous contributions to Dharma World are "A Buddhist Path to Mending the World" and "Mount Sinai and Mount Fuji: The American Jewish Fascination with Buddhism."

Founder's Memoirs

The Brighter Society Movement and the Spirit of the "Universal Gate of Truth" 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 (6) The Bimba Fruit / The Turtle / Bamboo 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.

Lay Buddhist Conference

The Significance of Lay Buddhism in Japanese History by Masazumi Shojun Okano

The International Lay Buddhist Forum held its seventh world assembly April 23-29 at Rissho Kosei-kai headquarters in Tokyo. Some fifty people, including leaders of lay Buddhist organizations in Australia, Europe, North America, South Asia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, discussed "Varieties of Lay Buddhism." The following is a keynote speech at the opening session by Rev. Dr. Masazumi Shojun Okano, president of Kodo Kyodan Buddhist Fellowship, a lay Buddhist organization based in Yokohama.

Masazumi Shojun Okano is president of Kodo Kyodan Buddhist Fellowship. After graduating from Keio University in Tokyo, he received his DPhil from Oxford University in the United Kingdom and spent time teaching at universities in the United States and Hong Kong. Rev. Okano serves on the Executive Committee of the Japan Buddhist Federation and the Advisory Committee of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists.

The Threefold Lotus Sutra: A Modern Commentary (118)

The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Chapter 23 The Former Lives of the Bodhisattva Medicine King (2) by Nikkyo Niwano

This is the 118th installment of a detailed commentary on the Threefold Lotus Sutra by the founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, Rev. Nikkyo Niwano.

Dharma World Oct.-Dec. 2014, Buddhism and Language

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