The Significance of Religious Communities
Why We Should Join a Sangha by Yukimasa Hagiwara
Yukimasa Hagiwara is deputy director of Rissho Kosei-kai International in Tokyo.
Communities of Life and Dialogue in the Catholic Church by Brendan Leahy
It is important to underline how many of the new movements and communities in the Catholic Church are involved in dialogue with other Christians, with members of other religions, and indeed with people of nonreligious convictions but committed to peace and universal fraternity.
Professor Brendan Leahy lectures in theology at Saint Patrick’s College in Maynooth, Ireland. Both as a member of the Focolare Movement and as secretary to the Irish Bishops’ Conference Committee on Ecumenism, he has been involved for many years in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. He has written numerous publications, including Ecclesial Movements and Communities: Origins, Significance, and Issues (New York: New City, 2011).
The Muslim Community in Japan by Samir Abdel Hamid Nouh
Though the Muslim community is very small, the Japanese public of today has generally accepted it as part of Japanese society. For the most part, Japanese people accept cultural differences as colorful aspects of the world and understand that other cultures are actually not very different from their own.
Samir Abdel Hamid Nouh is a professor at the Office for Advanced Research and Higher Education, Doshisha University, Kyoto, and deputy director of the university’s Center for Interdisciplinary Study of Monotheistic Religions. He started his academic career at his alma mater, Cairo University, and received a PhD in comparative linguistics from Punjab University in 1978. Before he came to Kyoto in 2004, he was a professor at Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. His fields of research include Islamic civilization and cross-cultural understanding between Arab Islamic and Japanese cultures. He is the author of many books and articles in Arabic.
Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam: Community Responses to Conflict by Abdessalam Najjar
Dispute resolution methodologies traditionally appeal to shared values and norms that are universally accepted within a given culture. A different type of challenge is involved when it comes to approaching conflict in a multicultural society or between two separate groups who do not share a common belief system, background, or values.
Abdessalam Najjar lived in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam (Oasis of Peace), the Arab-Jewish village in Israel, from its earliest days. In 1993 its founder, Bruno Hussar, accepted the Niwano Peace Prize on the community’s behalf. Before Mr. Najjar’s death, on March 22 of this year at the age of fifty-nine, he was director of the village’s Pluralistic Spiritual Center. He died before finishing this article, and it was completed by his neighbor and colleague Howard Shippin.
The Crucial Role of Community for Holiness and a Universal Vision by Peter Feldmeier
Community is crucial because in it you enter a great mystery that is not your own. You’re tapping into the divine but not as a separate self. You lose your separateness, and the walls between you and others and you and God get thinner.
Peter Feldmeier is the Murray/Bacik Endowed Chair of Catholic Studies at the University of Toledo, Ohio. He received his PhD in Christian spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and specializes in the study of Buddhist-Christian dialogue. He is the author of five books and coauthored, with Leo Lefebure, The Path of Wisdom: A Christian Commentary on the Dhammapada (2011).
Why the Sangha Exists, and Its Limits by Ryumyo Yamazaki
Only a true Sangha, with the light of the Buddha Dharma at its core (separate from the frameworks of government, the economy, society, and so forth), can truly confront the multiple real-world issues that we face.
Ryumyo Yamazaki, a professor at Musashino University in Tokyo, teaches the history of Japanese thought in the Middle Ages and Jodo Shin Buddhism. He also serves as vice director of the Peace Research Institute, which is affiliated with the Japanese Committee of the World Conference of Religions for Peace. He is head priest of the Jodo Shin Buddhist temple Hozenji in Tokyo.
Our Smiles Can Open 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).
Niwano Peace Prize
Harmony and Peace by Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez
The Niwano Peace Foundation awarded the twenty-ninth Niwano Peace Prize on May 10 to Ms. Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez, a human rights activist and political leader in Guatemala. It was the first time for a practitioner of an indigenous religious tradition (in her case, Mayan) to receive the prize. Ms. Velásquez was honored for her unflagging work, which has exemplified the great potential and wisdom of indigenous peoples in marking paths to peace. She also has highlighted the critical role of women’s work for peace. The presentation ceremony took place in Tokyo. In addition to an award certificate, Ms. Velásquez received a medal and twenty million yen. This is her acceptance speech.
Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez came from a very poor, religious agricultural family in Guatemala. Mayan religion has always guided her, and since her youth she also has been part of the Christian movement. Guatemala suffered violent internal strife between 1960 and 1996. Of a population of about 10 million, over 250,000 died during the war, and 45,000 people are still missing. Over 240,000 orphans and 50,000 widows survived. In 1988 Ms. Velásquez founded the National Coordinating Organization of Widows of Guatemala (CONAVIGUA), now a leading Guatemalan human rights organization. She has served in many posts, in Guatemala and the region, including as a congresswoman in the National Congress.
The Bodhisattva Way in Rissho Kosei-kai and the Lotus Sutra by Gene Reeves
In the Lotus Sutra, a bodhisattva is one who is wise enough to know that he or she cannot be saved unless everyone is. A bodhisattva is well aware of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all things.
Gene Reeves has done research and lectured on the Lotus Sutra worldwide for more than a quarter century. He is a professor at Renmin University of China in Beijing and serves as an international advisor to Rissho Kosei-kai. Before coming to Japan in 1989, he was head of Meadville Lombard Theological School and a lecturer at the University of Chicago Divinity School. His recent works include The Stories of the Lotus Sutra (Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2010).
Rissho Kosei-kai’s Second Step Forward 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 Lotus Sutra and Human Suffering by Stefan Grace
This is a report on the 2012 International Lotus Sutra Seminar, sponsored by Rissho Kosei-kai and held March 6-11 at the National Women’s Education Center of Japan in Musashi-ranzan, Saitama Prefecture. This year’s theme, “The Lotus Sutra and Human Suffering,” commemorated the tragic events of March 11, 2011.
Stefan Grace is a doctoral candidate at Tokyo’s Komazawa University, specializing in Buddhist studies. He is author of “D. T. Suzuki in the Contemporary Academic Climate” (Japan Mission Journal 66) and “An Exegetical Study of D. T. Suzuki’s Later-Period Japanese Works” (MA thesis). Stefan also coedited Suzuki’s “Zen in T’ang and Sung” (Annual Report of Researches of the Matsugaoka Bunko 25) and Suzuki’s partial translation of the Chinese Chan classic Biyen-lu (scheduled for 2012 publication).
The Threefold Lotus Sutra: A Modern Commentary (109)
The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Chapter 20: The Bodhisattva Never Despise (1) by Nikkyo Niwano
This is the 109th installment of a detailed commentary on the Threefold Lotus Sutra by the founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, Rev. Nikkyo Niwano.