Dharma World

July-September 2009, Volume 36

July-September 2009, Volume 36(PDF)

Religion and Prayer

Prayer Brings Out the Buddha-Nature in Yourself and Others by Hiroe Kikuchi

In this world, some problems are simply beyond our power to solve. Indeed,our world seems to be just the sort of place where things do not work out in the way we planned. When we come up against trouble without remedy in this contrary world of ours, for many of us there is only one recourse in the face of the inevitable – prayer. The fact that we pray may be considered as evidence of our belief in the action of invisible gods and buddhas. I think that we pray because, deep in the bottom of our hearts, we firmly believe in the existence of the gods and buddhas who have given each of us life and continue to watch over us. However, prayer does not mean just asking the gods and buddhas to save us or grant our wishes. . . .

Hiroe Kikuchi is a deputy director of the General Affairs Bureau of Rissho Kosei-kai in Tokyo.

Scripture and Prayer by Joseph S. O’Leary

Today our spiritual reading of scriptures requires a critical discernment between what is obsolete in the old texts and what can still speak to us and challenge us.

Joseph S. O’Leary, professor of English literature at Sophia University, was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1949, and studied literature, philosophy, and theology at Maynooth College and in Rome and Paris. Resident in Japan since 1983, he has worked with the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture and has written on interreligious theology. His publications include Religious Pluralism and Christian Truth (Edinburgh University Press, 1996).

Zen and the Art of Prayer by Ruben L. F. Habito

All the classic forms of prayer are fully activated as we sit in silence, breathing in and breathing out. Zen practice in this way can be considered a form of prayer that does not have recourse to words.

Ruben L. F. Habito is a faculty member at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, and is founding teacher of the Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas, Texas. He is married to Maria Reis Habito, and together they have two teenage sons. He is the author of Healing Breath: Zen for Christians and Buddhists in a Wounded World (Boston: Wisdom, 2006); Experiencing Buddhism: Ways of Wisdom and Compassion (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2005); and many other works in English and Japanese.

The Islamic Concept of Worship and Prayer by Kazuko Shiojiri

A scholar of the theology of Islam describes the Islamic view of humanity and the role of worship in that faith and points out that it is possible to see in the religion’s fundamental beliefs a common concept with those held by Judaism and Christianity.

Kazuko Shiojiri is executive director and vice president of the University of Tsukuba, in Japan. She received her PhD in 1998 from the University of Tokyo. She is the author of many books and essays on the theology of Islam and interreligious dialogue, including Islam no ningenkan, sekaikan: Shukyo shiso no shin’en e (The View of Humans and the World in Islam: Toward the Depth of Religious Thought), 2008.

Prayer in Spiritual Caregiving by Vimala Inoue

When we feel hostile toward the person we are trying to love and care for, we need prayer as a way to forgive ourselves and give ourselves time to let kind feelings revive within us.

Vimala Inoue is an associate professor in the Faculty of Spiritual Care at Koyasan University, Wakayama Prefecture. As an ordained Buddhist monk, he practiced Zen and vipassana meditation in Japan and Myanmar (Burma) and taught Buddhist meditation in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States until he returned to secular life in 1997. He specializes in spiritual-care facilitation and Buddhist meditation and teaches meditation at seminars and workshops.

The Spiritual Language of Each Human Being by Alberto Quattrucci

Prayer as a source of peace is a complex theme. The circumstances in which we live make a difference. How can we be united in prayer, how can prayer be a source of peace for us?

Alberto Quattrucci studied pedagogy at the Faculty of Magistero, Rome, and theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, also in Rome, and received the degree of “educator of special communities.” Since 1969 he has been involved in the Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome. He was ordained a permanent deacon in 1988 and has since served as the secretary-general of International Meetings – Peoples and Religions, an association founded by the Community of Sant’Egidio to promote mutual knowledge and dialogue among religions.


Religion Can Unite People and Alleviate Alienation Ms. Shirley Alphonse, a spiritual leader-healer of the T’Sou-ke Nation, Canada

Ms. Shirley Alphonse visited Japan in June 2009 for cultural exchange with the Japanese people and to share T’Sou-ke tribe and Shinto ceremonies. She spoke and performed the T’Sou-ke smudge ritual on the University of Tokyo main campus and also at Tanashi Shrine in Tokyo. The following interview took place via e-mail after her around-the-clock schedule during her visit to Japan had ended.

Shirley Alphonse is a spiritual leader-healer of the T’Sou-ke Nation on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, where she was born on one of its reserves. She has devoted her life to relieving the emotional suffering of fellow members of the nation and helping them find peace and love, and reconnect to their Creator. She also conducts funerals for the nation.

Shedding Light on Each Other’s Beliefs Dr. Gotthard Fermor, a joint leader of a German interfaith dialogue group

In April, twenty-six members of a German interfaith dialogue group led jointly by Dr. Gotthard Fermor, visited Rissho Kosei-kai in Tokyo. They visited Japan to study religious- and humanity-related themes in Japanese culture and discuss them with Buddhists and Christians. Dharma World interviewed Dr. Fermor as follows on the significance of interreligious dialogue.

Gotthard Fermor obtained his PhD in practical theology at the University of Bonn in 1999, and was ordained as a pastor of the Evangelical Church in Rhineland, Germany, in 2000. He is the author of Ekstasis (Kohlhammer, 1999) and has published widely on religion and music.

Seminar Report

The Lotus Sutra and Interfaith Relations by Joseph M. Logan

From China, Japan, Korea, and the United States they came – twelve scholars, specialists in Buddhist or religious studies, who made their way to an island paradise earlier this year to participate in the thirteenth of an ongoing series of Lotus Sutra seminars sponsored by Rissho Kosei-kai. As Dr. Gene Reeves, one of the founding fathers of this conference series, stated in his remarks to open the first meeting on Wednesday, March 18, “to accommodate the Japanese love for Hawaii,” and to take advantage of the marvelous Rissho Kosei-kai Retreat Center facility in Kona (on Hawaii’s Big Island), “we thought we’d try Hawaii this year.” Based on the smiling faces of the assembled scholars, it was quite clear that no one had seriously objected to the choice of venue. . . .

Joseph M. Logan is a senior fellow at the Essential Lay Buddhism Study Center in Tokyo. His work as a member of the center’s translation team focuses on English wording and cadence with the goal of making recitation in English a more effective practice for internalizing a sutra’s teachings.

Conference Report

Promoting Dialogue for ‘Shared Security’


Buddhism: The Way to Dialogue by Pablito A. Baybado Jr.

In a region of diverse cultures and religions, dialogue has to be both the way of life and the mission of each culture and religion if peace is to reign in Asia.

Pablito A. Baybado Jr. is an assistant professor at the Institute of Religion and a researcher at the John Paul II Research Center for Ecclesiastical Studies, University of Santo Tomas, Philippines. He is also an executive committee member of the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace, a board member of the Religions for Peace Philippines, and a co-convenor of the Religions for Peace Philippines Interfaith Youth Network.


Forging Ties with the Buddha by Nichiko Niwano

When we are first able to put our hands together reverently for ourselves, then we can truly put our hands together reverently for others, and understand the preciousness of the lives of others.

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

The Model Way of Life by Nikkyo Niwano

This essay is part of a continuing series of translations from a volume of inspirational writings by the 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 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.

The Threefold Lotus Sutra: A Modern Commentary (99)

The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Chapter 15: Springing Up out of the Earth (2) by Nikkyo Niwano

This is the ninety-ninth 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