Dharma World

July-September 2007, Volume 34

July-September 2007, Volume 34(PDF)

Respect for Ancestors

Why Respect for Ancestors Is Important by Kotaro Suzuki

As head of a Rissho Kosei-kai branch for ten years, until 2006, I interacted with many members and dealt with various people’s life problems. Speaking on the basis of that experience, I can say that all those who overcame their problems and achieved happiness, without exception, valued their parents and diligently practiced daily devotions for the benefit of ancestors (senzo kuyo), placing offerings of flowers, food, and drink on the home Buddhist altar and reciting sutra passages. Interestingly, even people who had resented their parents found happiness when they repented of their resentment and began practicing daily devotions.

Kotaro Suzuki is director of Kosei-kai International. He has formerly served as the director of the Secretaries’ Office of Rissho Kosei-kai and the head of the organization’s Nerima Branch in Tokyo.

Japanese Ancestor Veneration in Comparative Perspective by Michael Pye

The practice of caring for one’s ancestors is, of course, not unique to Japan. On the contrary, it is a basic element of “primal religion” in all cultures.

Michael Pye had been professor of religious studies at the University of Marburg, Germany, until 2004. He is now a visiting professor at Otani University, Kyoto. From 1995 to 2000, Dr. Pye served as president of the International Association for the History of Religions. His books include Skilful Means: A Concept in Mahayana Buddhism and MacMillan Dictionary of Religion.

The Place of Ancestors in Buddhism and Christianity by Mark R. Mullins

Over the previous century, many Christian churches and movements have instituted a wide range of post-funerary rites that resemble Buddhist practices in many ways.

Mark R. Mullins is a member of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Graduate School of Global Studies at Sophia University, Tokyo, where his teaching and research focuses on religion in modern society. He is the author and coeditor of a number of books, including Religion and Society in Modern Japan, Christianity Made in Japan, and Religion and Social Crisis in Japan.

The Japanese and Ancestor Veneration by Kokan Sasaki

Buddhism in Japan features a unique relationship between the Buddha and deceased kindred and ancestors. Long efforts by sects and denominations to steer followers away from ancestors to the Buddha have had little success.

Kokan Sasaki, Litt.D., was a professor in the Faculty of Literature at Komazawa University, Tokyo, where he is now professor emeritus. His specialty is religious anthropology and cultural anthropology. His recent books include Butsuriki: Seikatsu Bukkyo no Dainamizumu (The Buddha Power: Dynamism of Living Buddhism).

Ancestor Veneration among Japanese-Americans in Hawaii by Joshin Washimi

Over one hundred and twenty years have passed since Japanese people first came to Hawaii. It seems only natural that the religious activities of their descendants should adopt a style that fits into the American cultural landscape.

Joshin Washimi, Litt.D., is associate professor in the Faculty of Literature at Taisho University, Tokyo, where his teaching and research focus on Buddhism and its traditional funerary rituals in Japan. He is the author of a number of books and articles on the developments of the Jodo Mission overseas.

Honoring One’s Ancestors under Islam by Jiro Arimi

Followers of Islam live in an everlasting struggle to accomplish the obligatory deeds demanded of them, and while ancestors are being commemorated, succeeding generations become more conscious of their obligations.

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 Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, Riyadh, from 1975 to 1980.

Ancestor Appreciation by Kris Ladusau and the Oklahoma Sangha

This we know: All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life. He is merely a strand on it. Whatever he does to the web he does to himself. –Chief Seattle

Kris Ladusau is a member of the Rissho Kosei-kai Dharma Center of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. She is one of the core members who started an English-speaking group there. On being asked by Dharma World to write on how paying respect to ancestors has been adopted and is being practiced by the Oklahoma members, she collected their ideas and included them in the present essay.

A Theological Interpretation of the Veneration of Ancestors in Rissho Kosei-kai by Michio T. Shinozaki

Ancestor veneration is a skillful means for the practice of Buddhist teachings. In our organization, it is truly a Buddhist practice, though it involves a new interpretation of the traditional practice.

Michio T. Shinozaki, formerly director of the General Secretariat of Rissho Kosei-kai, is president of the organization’s Gakurin seminary in Tokyo. He received a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, in 1988. He has contributed a number of articles on Buddhist ethics to various journals.


Religion as an Element of Mutual Recognition by Hans Ucko

In every religious tradition there are texts that in different ways speak of respect for and recognition of other religious traditions.

Hans Ucko is the program secretary in the Office on Interreligious Relations and Dialogue of the World Council of Churches in Geneva. He is an ordained minister of the Church of Sweden. Dr. Ucko has written extensively on Jewish-Christian and interreligious dialogue in several languages. His books include Common Roots and New Horizons and The Jubilee Challenge: Utopia or Possibility?

The Values of Freedom of Expression and of Freedom of Religion or Belief as Protected by the United Nations in Postmodern Society by John B. Taylor

Laws and punishments are not the only ways of ensuring respect for fundamental freedoms. A change of attitude can bring new life to values prescribed by religions and human rights principles.

John B. Taylor studied and taught Islamics at Cambridge University, the University of the Punjab, McGill University, the University of Birmingham, and Harvard University. After ten years as secretary-general of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, and six years with the Conference of European Churches, Dr. Taylor has served since 2001 as the representative of the International Association for Religious Freedom at the United Nations Office at Geneva.

Envisioning Dharmic Societies by Kenneth Kraft

A good society would recognize the inherent worth of all people and would help its citizens to cultivate inner peace. This essay is based on an address delivered by the author at a symposium held by Religions for Peace and Rissho Kosei-kai of New York at the Japan Society in New York to commemorate the centennial of the birth of the late founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, Rev. Nikkyo Niwano, on December 14, 2006.

Kenneth Kraft is professor of religious studies at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Dr. Kraft has served as an advisor to the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, the Forum on Religion and Ecology, and the World Faiths Development Dialogue. His books include Eloquent Zen: Daito and Early Japanese Zen and The Wheel of Engaged Buddhism: A New Map of the Path.

Japanese Buddhist Folktales


Restoring Warmth in the Family by Nichiko Niwano

As we continue striving to perfect our character, the family home can be considered the best place for training ourselves to do so.

Nichiko Niwano is president of Rissho Kosei-kai and the Niwano Peace Foundation, a president of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, and chairman of Shinshuren (Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan).

Peace from the Viewpoint of Religion by Nikkyo Niwano

This essay is part of a continuing series of translations from a volume of inspirational writings by the late founder of Rissho Kosei-kai. Dharma World will continue to publish these essays because of their lasting value as guidance for the practice of one’s daily faith.

Nikkyo Niwano, the late 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.

Dharma World

  1. Spring 2024, Volume 51

    Knowing Contentment

  2. Autumn 2023, Volume 50

    Religion and the Family

  3. Spring 2023, Volume 50

    Religion’s Role in Peacebuilding

  4. Autumn 2022, Volume 49

    Religion and Happiness

  5. Spring 2022, Volume 49

    The Impact of Cyberspace on a Variety of Religious Traditions and Practices

  6. Autumn 2021, Volume 48

    Religion's Potential for Advancing Sustainable Development

  7. Spring 2021, Volume 48

    What Is Prayer?

  8. Autumn 2020, Volume 47

    Religion’s Role in Building an Inclusive Society

  9. Spring 2020, Volume 47

    Violence in Buddhism

  10. Autumn 2019, Volume 46

    Manga, Anime, and Contemporary Religion

  11. Spring 2019, Volume 46

    Is Emptiness the Goal?

  12. July-December 2018, Volume 45

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

  13. January-June 2018, Volume 45

    Buddhism’s One Vehicle in a World of Many Religions

  14. July-December 2017, Volume 44

    Religions Tackling Extremism

  15. January-June 2017, Volume 44

    Religion and Animals

  16. October-December 2016, Volume 43

    Features: Listening

  17. July-September 2016, Volume 43

    Contemporary Ideas about Karma

  18. April-June 2016, Volume 43

    Buddhism and Food

  19. January-March 2016, Volume 43

    Dual Religious Identity: Can One Practice Two Religions?

  20. October-December 2015, Volume 42

    The Modern Significance of Meditative Practices in Religions

  21. July-September 2015, Volume 42

    Religious Rituals and Their Meaning for Today

  22. April-June 2015, Volume 42

    Religion's Contributions to Society

  23. January-March 2015, Volume 42

    Cultivating Hearts That Welcome the Other

  24. October-December 2014, Volume 41

    Buddhism and Language

  25. July-September 2014, Volume 41

    Life After Death

  26. April-June 2014, Volume 41

    Building an East Asian Community: Roles of Religions

  27. January-March 2014, Volume 41

    Aging Societies and Religion

  28. October-December 2013, Volume 40

    Nuclear Power and Contemporary Religion

  29. July-September 2013, Volume 40

    Where Does the Buddha Live Now?

  30. April-June 2013, Volume 40

    Modern Meanings of Festivals

  31. January-March 2013, Volume 40

    Transforming Greed

  32. October-December 2012, Volume 39

    Religions Coping with Prejudice

  33. July-September 2012, Volume 39

    The Significance of Religious Communities

  34. April-June 2012, Volume 39

    Buddhist Teachings on Spiritual Liberation

  35. January-March 2012, Volume 39

    The Meaning of Modern Pilgrimage

  36. October-December 2011, Volume 38

    The Evolution of Funerals in Japan

  37. July-September 2011, Volume 38

    Buddhism in North America

  38. April-June 2011, Volume 38

    Religion and the Power of Women

  39. January-March 2011, Volume 38

    What Is True Wealth?

  40. October-December 2010, Volume 37

    Dialogue Draws Religions Closer

  41. July-September 2010, Volume 37

    Tackling the Question "What Is the Lotus Sutra?"

  42. April-June 2010, Volume 37

    Religion's Role in Abolishing Nuclear Weapons

  43. January-March 2010, Volume 37

    Help in Overcoming Alienation

  44. July-September 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Prayer

  45. July-September 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Media

  46. April-June 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Health

  47. January-March 2009, Volume 36

    The Changing Forms of the Family and the Role of Religion

  48. October-December 2008, Volume 35

    The Meaning of Giving in the Contemporary World

  49. July-September 2008, Volume 35

    Buddhism in the Face of Environmental Crisis

  50. April-June 2008, Volume 35

    The Many Forms of the Bodhisattva Kuan-yin

  51. January-March 2008, Volume 35

    Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution

  52. October-December 2007, Volume 34

    Buddhism and Bioethics

  53. July-September 2007, Volume 34

    Respect for Ancestors

  54. April-June 2007, Volume 34

    Self-Examination and Peace Work

  55. January-March 2007, Volume 34

    Buddhism and Social Responsibility: Boddhisattva Practice Today

  56. October-December 2006, Volume 33

    Buddishm in Dialogue

  57. July-September 2006, Volume 33

    Religions Working for Peace

  58. April-June 2006, Volume 33

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

  59. January-February 2006, Volume 33

    The Human Condition and Religion: A Global Future?

  60. November-December 2005, Volume 32

    Remembering Hiroshima

  61. September-October 2005, Volume 32

    Spirituality and Development

  62. July-August 2005, Volume 32

    Women in Contemporary Japanese Religion and Society

  63. May-June 2005, Volume 32

    Rissho Kosei-kai 67th

  64. March-April 2005, Volume 32

    "Thousand Buddhas," Sanbanggulsa Temple, South Korea

  65. January-February 2005, Volume 32

    Emerging Forms of Spirituality

  66. November-December 2004, Volume 31

    Peace Building Through Multi-Religious Cooperation

  67. September-October 2004, Volume 31

    The Increasing Importance of Dialogue and Cooperation

  68. July-August 2004, Volume 31

    Paths to Reconciliation

  69. May-June 2004, Volume 31

    Religion in Crisis

  70. March-April 2004, Volume 31

    Spiritual Friendship

  71. January-February 2004, Volume 31

    Resolving Conflict

  72. November-December 2003, Volume 30

    Dividing Good From Evil

  73. September-October 2003, Volume 30

    Common Truths: Cooperation Among Religions

  74. July-August 2003, Volume 30

    Niwano Peace Foundation

  75. May-June 2003, Volume 30

    Religionists United in Prayer for Peace

  76. March-April 2003, Volume 30

    Life is Larger Than Globalization

  77. January-February 2003, Volume 30

    Emerging Forms of Spirituality

  78. November-December 2002, Volume 29

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

  79. September-October 2002, Volume 29

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

  80. July-August 2002, Volume 29

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

  81. May-June 2002, Volume 29

    National Treasure Tapestry Illustrating Shakyamuni Sermon to the Faithful

  82. March-April 2002, Volume 29

    Celebration of the Anniversary of Shakyamuni's Birth

  83. January-February 2002, Volume 29

    Religious Delegates Gather in New York for WCRP Symposium