Dharma World

October-December 2007, Volume 34

October-December 2007, Volume 34(PDF)

Buddhism and Bioethics

Where Bioethics Stands in Relation to Advances in the Life Sciences by Katsumasa Imai

The role religion is expected to play is providing basic principles that lead people to true happiness and giving medicine and other sciences guidance on the direction in which they should go.

Katsumasa Imai is the director of the Chuo Academic Research Institute of Rissho Kosei-kai in Tokyo.

A Bioethics Question for Buddhists: When Does Human Life Begin? by Masao Fujii

The lack of universal principles of bioethics means that research on related issues must be transparent and comprehensive, and include the viewpoints of fields other than medicine.

Until he retired in 2004, Masao Fujii served first as professor and later dean of the Faculty of Literature at Taisho University in Tokyo, where he is now professor emeritus. He promoted research on the Japanese lifestyle based on the influence of religion through an anthropological approach. He is currently president of the Japan Association for Bioethics. He is also the translator of Bronislaw Malinowski’s The Dynamics of Culture Change (Yale University Press, 1945).

Religion and Bioethics: A Chapter in Their Shared History by William R. LaFleur

Visiting graves in America, although it did not include some of the Buddhist and Confucian components that are part of haka-mairi in Japan, appears to have been fairly common until sometime after World War II.

William R. LaFleur, the Saunders Professor in Japanese Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, taught earlier at Princeton and UCLA. In addition to his studies of medieval Japanese Buddhism, he is a senior fellow at Penn’s Center for Bioethics. Recently researching the approach to bioethical questions in Japan, he coedited (with Gernot Bohme and Susumu Shimazono) Dark Medicine: Rationalizing Unethical Medical Research in Germany, Japan, and the United States.

Transcending a Bioethics of Buddhist Compassion by Susumu Shimazono

Practicing compassion is not as simple as it may seem. It is not an unlimited good and may cause serious harm or loss to the person trying to demonstrate it.

Susumu Shimazono is a professor in the Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology at the University of Tokyo. His special fields are the comparative study of religious movements and the history of religion in modern Japan. He is the author of numerous books on religion, spirituality, and bioethics, and has served on the Japanese prime minister’s panel on bioethics.

One Buddhist View of Bioethics by Carl Becker

The Buddhist critique of the Western-style multinational medical and pharmaceutical industry is that it is less the product of compassion than of the money-making attachment of its purveyors.

Carl Becker is a professor in the Kokoro Research Center at Kyoto University, where he is doing research on terminal care and medical ethics. He has published numerous books on bioethics, death and dying, and near-death studies. In addition to teaching and research, Dr. Becker counsels suicidal clients, terminal patients, and bereaved students, and conducts workshops on improving medical communication and reducing burnout.

Religionists and Care for the Terminally Ill by Yoshiharu Tomatsu

Since doctors today have such badly crowded schedules, calls are growing for people of religion and specially trained professionals to undertake the spiritual care of patients facing imminent death.

Yoshiharu Tomatsu is head priest at Shinko-in, a Jodo Shu (Pure Land sect) temple in Tokyo and senior research fellow at the Jodo Shu Research Institute. He is a lecturer in religious studies at Taisho University and also teaches at the Keio University School of Medicine, both in Tokyo. He is co-editor of Traversing the Pure Land Path: A Lifetime of Encounters with Honen Shonin.

Buddhism and Palliative Care in Japan by Masahiro Tanaka

The nation’s hospitals are sorely lacking in spiritual-care workers who can help ease the pain of patients facing imminent death.

Masahiro Tanaka is now chief priest at Saimyoji in Tochigi Prefecture. Until 1983, when his father, who was the chief priest of that temple, passed away, he served as a physician at the National Cancer Center at Tsukiji in Tokyo. Within the temple, he opened a medical clinic called Fumon-in. It includes a palliative care unit, whose main task is the relief of both physical and spiritual pain.

Building Bridges for the Promotion of Life, Justice, and Peace by Juan Masia

A Roman Catholic priest describes the basic importance of cooperation among different fields of science, philosophy, and religion for achieving the ultimate benefit for humanity.

Juan Masia an ordained Roman Catholic priest, was formerly professor of ethical theology and the history of philosophical thought in the Faculty of Theology at Sophia University, Tokyo, where he is now a professor emeritus. From 2004 to 2006 he served as the director of the Institute of Life Ethics at Comillas Pontifical University, Madrid.

Rissho Kosei-kai’s Statement on the Proposed Revision of the Organ Transplant Law


The Power to Live by Nichiko Niwano

With the understanding that we are granted life by the life of the Buddha, we cannot help but feel moved and joyful at each of the teachings.

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).

Achieving Spiritual Peace 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.


Gross National Happiness and Buddhism by Dasho Karma Ura

This article presents briefly the relationship between Buddhism, Gross National Happiness (GNH), and the economy. GNH is not exclusively an aspect of Buddhism. However, in this article, which was written especially for Dharma World, the links between GNH and Buddhist understanding of reality are explored. Nonetheless, it must be understood that because of the wide applications of GNH, it can also be discussed in a completely secular context such as health, politics, the economy, education, the environment, communications, and technology. GNH’s relevance is, in fact, mostly in practical public policy fields.

Dasho Karma Ura is the director of the Centre for Bhutan Studies, an autonomous think tank located in Thimphu that encourages public discourse on Bhutanese society. He also serves on several national and international committees. He is the author of a number of books and articles on Bhutanese history, culture, and literature, including The Hero with a Thousand Eyes.

Founders Nikkyo Niwano and Chiara Lubich: An Interreligious Dialogue for Peace by Donald W. Mitchell

The encounter between two spiritual giants of the modern era has led to lasting cooperation of the most meaningful kind in ways that benefit all of humanity. 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.

Donald W. Mitchell is a professor of comparative philosophy of religion at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He has served as a consultant for dialogue with Buddhism at the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and is active in the Focolare Movement. One of his most recent books is Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience.

Self-Reliance and Liberation from Poverty by Dhammananda Bhikkhuni

Women are independent and must be responsible for their own spiritual development. This message is supreme, not only in the context of Buddhism, but also in the history of world religions.

Ven. Dhammananda Bhikkhuni (Dr. Chatsumarn Kabilsingh) is an activist in social justice and women’s issues in Asia. She taught religion and philosophy at Thammasat University in Bangkok for twenty years. She was ordained in 2001 by a Sri Lankan bhikkhuni (female monk) in the presence of a Thai bhikkhu (male monk) and assumed the name Dhammananda.

“The Flower Opens in the Sheer Drop” by Notto R. Thelle

One could call Keiji Nishitani (1900-1990), one of Japan’s leading philosophers, a Socratic Buddhist, one who sought answers and got other people to see by means of the questions he put to them.

Notto R. Thelle, D.Th., is a professor in the Faculty of Theology, the University of Oslo, Norway. Having studied Buddhism at Otani University in Kyoto, he acted as associate director of the NCC (National Christian Council) Center for the Study of Japanese Religions in Kyoto from 1974 to 1985. He was also a visiting scholar at the center in 1999 and 2000.

The Threefold Lotus Sutra: A Modern Commentary (91)

The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Chapter 12: Devadatta (3) by Nikkyo Niwano

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

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