Dharma World

July-September 2014, Volume 41

July-September 2014, Volume 41(PDF)

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

  1. Autumn 2019, Volume 46

    Manga, Anime, and Contemporary Religion

  2. Spring 2019, Volume 46

    Is Emptiness the Goal?

  3. July-December 2018, Volume 45

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

  4. January-June 2018, Volume 45

    Buddhism’s One Vehicle in a World of Many Religions

  5. July-December 2017, Volume 44

    Religions Tackling Extremism

  6. January-June 2017, Volume 44

    Religion and Animals

  7. October-December 2016, Volume 43

    Features: Listening

  8. July-September 2016, Volume 43

    Contemporary Ideas about Karma

  9. April-June 2016, Volume 43

    Buddhism and Food

  10. January-March 2016, Volume 43

    Dual Religious Identity: Can One Practice Two Religions?

  11. October-December 2015, Volume 42

    The Modern Significance of Meditative Practices in Religions

  12. July-September 2015, Volume 42

    Religious Rituals and Their Meaning for Today

  13. April-June 2015, Volume 42

    Religion's Contributions to Society

  14. January-March 2015, Volume 42

    Cultivating Hearts That Welcome the Other

  15. October-December 2014, Volume 41

    Buddhism and Language

  16. July-September 2014, Volume 41

    Life After Death

  17. April-June 2014, Volume 41

    Building an East Asian Community: Roles of Religions

  18. January-March 2014, Volume 41

    Aging Societies and Religion

  19. October-December 2013, Volume 40

    Nuclear Power and Contemporary Religion

  20. July-September 2013, Volume 40

    Where Does the Buddha Live Now?

  21. April-June 2013, Volume 40

    Modern Meanings of Festivals

  22. January-March 2013, Volume 40

    Transforming Greed

  23. October-December 2012, Volume 39

    Religions Coping with Prejudice

  24. July-September 2012, Volume 39

    The Significance of Religious Communities

  25. April-June 2012, Volume 39

    Buddhist Teachings on Spiritual Liberation

  26. January-March 2012, Volume 39

    The Meaning of Modern Pilgrimage

  27. October-December 2011, Volume 38

    The Evolution of Funerals in Japan

  28. July-September 2011, Volume 38

    Buddhism in North America

  29. April-June 2011, Volume 38

    Religion and the Power of Women

  30. January-March 2011, Volume 38

    What Is True Wealth?

  31. October-December 2010, Volume 37

    Dialogue Draws Religions Closer

  32. July-September 2010, Volume 37

    Tackling the Question "What Is the Lotus Sutra?"

  33. April-June 2010, Volume 37

    Religion's Role in Abolishing Nuclear Weapons

  34. January-March 2010, Volume 37

    Help in Overcoming Alienation

  35. October-December 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Prayer

  36. July-September 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Media

  37. April-June 2009, Volume 36

    Religion and Health

  38. January-March 2009, Volume 36

    The Changing Forms of the Family and the Role of Religion

  39. October-December 2008, Volume 35

    The Meaning of Giving in the Contemporary World

  40. July-September 2008, Volume 35

    Buddhism in the Face of Environmental Crisis

  41. April-June 2008, Volume 35

    The Many Forms of the Bodhisattva Kuan-yin

  42. January-March 2008, Volume 35

    Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution

  43. October-December 2007, Volume 34

    Buddhism and Bioethics

  44. July-September 2007, Volume 34

    Respect for Ancestors

  45. April-June 2007, Volume 34

    Self-Examination and Peace Work

  46. January-March 2007, Volume 34

    Buddhism and Social Responsibility: Boddhisattva Practice Today

  47. October-December 2006, Volume 33

    Buddishm in Dialogue

  48. July-September 2006, Volume 33

    Religions Working for Peace

  49. April-June 2006, Volume 33

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

  50. January-February 2006, Volume 33

    The Human Condition and Religion: A Global Future?

  51. November-December 2005, Volume 32

    Remembering Hiroshima

  52. September-October 2005, Volume 32

    Spirituality and Development

  53. July-August 2005, Volume 32

    Women in Contemporary Japanese Religion and Society

  54. May-June 2005, Volume 32

    Rissho Kosei-kai 67th

  55. March-April 2005, Volume 32

    "Thousand Buddhas," Sanbanggulsa Temple, South Korea

  56. January-February 2005, Volume 32

    Emerging Forms of Spirituality

  57. November-December 2004, Volume 31

    Peace Building Through Multi-Religious Cooperation

  58. September-October 2004, Volume 31

    The Increasing Importance of Dialogue and Cooperation

  59. July-August 2004, Volume 31

    Paths to Reconciliation

  60. May-June 2004, Volume 31

    Religion in Crisis

  61. March-April 2004, Volume 31

    Spiritual Friendship

  62. January-February 2004, Volume 31

    Resolving Conflict

  63. November-December 2003, Volume 30

    Dividing Good From Evil

  64. September-October 2003, Volume 30

    Common Truths: Cooperation Among Religions

  65. July-August 2003, Volume 30

    Niwano Peace Foundation

  66. May-June 2003, Volume 30

    Religionists United in Prayer for Peace

  67. March-April 2003, Volume 30

    Life is Larger Than Globalization

  68. January-February 2003, Volume 30

    Emerging Forms of Spirituality

  69. November-December 2002, Volume 29

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

  70. September-October 2002, Volume 29

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

  71. July-August 2002, Volume 29

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

  72. May-June 2002, Volume 29

    National Treasure Tapestry Illustrating Shakyamuni Sermon to the Faithful

  73. March-April 2002, Volume 29

    Celebration of the Anniversary of Shakyamuni's Birth

  74. January-February 2002, Volume 29

    Religious Delegates Gather in New York for WCRP Symposium