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Dharma World Buddhist magazine

July-September, Volume 42

content of this issue of Dharma World Buddhist magazine


Religious Rituals and Their Meaning for Today

The Right Way to Hold Rituals by Hideyuki Kobayashi

Rituals are an important element of religion, together with teaching and dissemination. In Rissho Kosei-kai we have various rituals throughout the year, starting with the three great observances of Buddhism - the celebration of Shakyamuni's birthday, the anniversary of the day Shakyamuni attained enlightenment, and the anniversary of the Buddha's entry into nirvana. We also commemorate the anniversaries of the deaths of our founder and cofounder.

Hideyuki Kobayashi is head of the Rituals Group of Rissho Kosei-kai in Tokyo.

The Heritage of Ritual Activity for Contemporary Society by John Nelson

It is part of our heritage as human beings to enact performances and promote beliefs that ensure order, stability, prosperity, and comfort while, at the same time, addressing the forces of chaos and disruption.

John Nelson is Professor of East Asian Religions in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of San Francisco. He also directs the Asia Pacific Studies graduate program. His most recent book, Experimental Buddhism: Innovation and Activism in Contemporary Japan (2013) was co-winner of the 2014 Toshihide Numata Book Prize for "Outstanding Book in Buddhist Studies." He has also produced the documentary film Spirits of the State: Japan's Yasukuni Shrine and co-edited Handbook of Contemporary Japanese Religions (2012).

The Buddhist Critique of Ritualism by David R. Loy

Ritualism is "the belief that it is necessary for rites to be carried out," because the ritual accomplishes something in and of itself, apart from our attitude as we perform it. In contrast, rituals . . . can be extraordinarily valuable if and when we undertake them in the proper spirit, because they can help to nurture and embody the mental transformation that is the most important goal.

David R. Loy is a professor, writer, and Zen teacher in the Sanbo Zen tradition of Japanese Zen Buddhism. He is a prolific author whose essays and books have been translated into many languages. He teaches nationally and internationally on various topics, focusing primarily on the encounter between Buddhism and modernity and what each can learn from the other. See www.davidloy.org.

Catholic Celebration of the Eucharist by Leo D. Lefebure

For Catholics, the Eucharist interprets the meaning of life, shapes personal and communal identity, and calls for life-giving action in the world. In many contexts the Eucharist is intimately linked to work for social, political, and economic justice.

Leo D. Lefebure is the Matteo Ricci, SJ, Professor of Theology at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He is the author of numerous works, including True and Holy: Christian Scripture and Other Religions. He is also the co-author with Peter Feldmeier of The Path of Wisdom: A Christian Commentary on the Dhammapada. He is an honorary research fellow of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a Trustee Emeritus of the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions.

Performance, Asceticism, and the Power of Ritual:
The Repentance Liturgy of Todaiji
by Lucia Dolce

Repentance in Japanese Buddhism was not conceived as a mental process of individual awareness but was enacted in a set of ritual actions, including physical movements, melodic chanting, and recitations.

Lucia Dolce is Senior Lecturer in Japanese Religions at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where she also directs the Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions. She specializes in Japanese religions and thought, with a particular research interest in the religiosity of the medieval period.

The Voices of the Ancestors and Ritual Change
in Mount Ontake Pilgrimage Confraternities
by Dominick Scarangello

Ontake confraternity rituals draw on both Shinto and Buddhism, epitomize many of the common characteristics of Japanese religiosity, and also include shamanic rites. These confraternities have always been highly independent, with each group possessing its own unique elements, but the veneration of confraternity ancestors is a widely shared practice.

Dominick Scarangello obtained his PhD in Religious Studies, with a concentration in East Asian Buddhism, from the University of Virginia in 2012. He specializes in early-modern and modern Japanese religions, and his scholarly interests include religion and modernity, embodiment, religious material culture, and religious praxis in Japan. Dr. Scarangello has taught at the University of Virginia and was the Postdoctoral Scholar in Japanese Buddhism at the Center for Japanese Studies, University of California, Berkeley (2013-14). Currently, he is an international advisor to Rissho Kosei-kai.


Daily Activities Are Practice of Our Faith 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).


Make This an Era of Respect for Other Faiths by Noriyuki Ueda

Respect for another's faith is part and parcel of one's own faith. I believe that this is what our twenty-first-century civilization should be aiming for.

Noriyuki Ueda is a Professor at the Center for Liberal Arts and the Graduate School of Decision Science and Technology, Tokyo Institute of Technology. He is a renowned anthropologist who studied anthropology as an undergraduate and graduate student at the University of Tokyo and obtained his PhD in Medicine at the Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine. He has been a contributor of opinion articles and book reviews to major Japanese newspapers. From April 2005 to February 2006 he was a visiting fellow at what is now the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford. His books include The Dalai Lama on What Matters Most: Conversations on Anger, Compassion, and Action, Hampton Roads Publishing, 2013.

Niwano Peace Prize

Bringing Down the Walls Niwano Peace Prize Acceptance Address by Esther Abimiku Ibanga, Founder of the Women Without Walls Initiative

The Niwano Peace Foundation awarded the thirty-second Niwano Peace Prize on May 14 of this year to Esther Abimiku Ibanga, a Pentecostal pastor in Jos, Nigeria, and founder of the Women Without Walls Initiative (WOWWI). Pastor Ibanga was honored for working extensively to foster and facilitate dialogue and mediation between warring religious and tribal communities in her country, advocating for the rights of the socially vulnerable, and promoting women's empowerment through skills acquisition. By uniting the voices of women arising from their individual religious faiths, she has encouraged and guided women's actions to build peace not only in Nigeria but all over the world. The presentation ceremony took place in Tokyo. In addition to an award certificate, Pastor Ibanga received a medal and twenty million Japanese yen. The following is her acceptance speech.

Pastor Esther Abimiku Ibanga was born in 1961 in the Nassarama State of Nigeria. She graduated from Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria, and received her master's degree in business administration at the University of Jos, Nigeria. She worked for sixteen years in the Central Bank of Nigeria. She voluntarily retired in 2001. In 1995, while serving as the Jos city manager, she founded Jos Christian Missions International, pioneering Nigeria's first church with a woman pastor. As its senior pastor she worked to take care of the poor and underprivileged, reaching out to young people, widows, and orphans.


Buddhism and Social Engagement (1) A History of Engagement by Ranjana Mukhopadhyaya

A further important theme for Engaged Buddhism is the links made with the society as a whole by Buddhists and Buddhist organizations as they pursue their social activities.

Ranjana Mukhopadhyaya specializes in sociology of religion and Japanese religion. She is an Associate Professor at the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Delhi, teaching Japanese society, culture, and language. She received her doctorate in Religious Studies from the University of Tokyo in 2003 and has taught as an Associate Professor at Nagoya City University. She is the author of Nihon no shakai sanka bukkyo [Engaged Buddhism in Japan] (Toshindo, 2005).

Founder's Memoirs

The Sorrow of Vietnam in 1970 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 (9) The Lion / The Sea / Sutras 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 (121)

The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Chapter 24 The Bodhisattva Wonder Sound (2) by Nikkyo Niwano

This is the 121st installment of a detailed commentary on the Threefold Lotus Sutra by the founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, Rev. Nikkyo Niwano.

Dharma World July-Sept. 2015, Religious Rituals and Their Meaning for Today

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