Dharma World

October-December 2010, Volume 37

October-December 2010, Volume 37(PDF)

Dialogue Draws Religions Closer

The Significance and Direction of Interreligious Dialogue by Keiichi Akagawa

Not surprisingly, all religions and sects are fundamentally based on an exclusionary absolutism that holds that their own doctrines and practices are the best. Consequently, it would stand to reason that most religions and sects are at times exclusive and dogmatic. In fact, if viewed from the perspective of world history, one could say that the history of religion is a history of disputes concerning each religion’s exclusionary absolutism. . . .

Keiichi Akagawa is head of the External Affairs Group (Interfaith) of Rissho Kosei-kai. He has also served as general affairs director of the Japanese Committee of the World Conference of Religions for Peace.

Recent Developments in Christian-Muslim Relations by Michael L. Fitzgerald

In many parts of the world the social climate is not conducive to closer ties, but religious leaders have an important part to play in improving this situation.

Roman Catholic Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald was secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue from 1987 to 2002, and its president from 2002 to 2006. He is currently the apostolic nuncio in Egypt and the Holy See’s delegate to the League of Arab States. He was also the director of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies in Rome from 1972 to 1978.

Critical Challenges in Interreligious Dialogue by A. Rashied Omar

An Islamic authority warns that religious pluralism, unlike religious plurality, is not a given fact in any society. It constitutes an ongoing process in which different religious traditions learn to interact positively with each other.

A. Rashied Omar, PhD, is a research scholar in Islamic studies and peace building at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana. In addition to being a university-based researcher and teacher, Dr. Omar puts theory into practice. He serves as the coordinating imam at the Claremont Main Road Mosque in Cape Town, South Africa.

Peace with Justice – an Interfaith Perspective by Olav Fykse Tveit

When we are mutually accountable to one another, engage both firmly and openly, speak clearly, and listen carefully, our dialogue becomes robust. It challenges, stretches, tests, and renews.

The Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, of Norway, is general secretary of the World Council of Churches, based in Geneva, Switzerland. From 2002 to 2009, he was the general secretary of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations.

Some Reflections on Interreligious Dialogue by Andrea Bellandi

Dialogue does not involve only theoretical thinking, necessary as it may be. It must be . . . a meeting at the level of spiritual life and religious experience, which are at the heart of all religions.

Andrea Bellandi was born in Florence, Italy, in 1960. A Catholic priest since 1985, he completed his studies in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University, receiving a doctorate in theology with a thesis on the thought of Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI). Currently, he teaches “Introduction to Theology” and “Fundamental Theology” on the Theological Faculty of Central Italy (Florence), where he was dean from 2003 to 2009.

From Encounter to Dialogue by J. P. Mukengeshayi Matata

During the second half of the last century, the manner of thinking of religions changed from one of intolerance and exclusivity to a new pluralistic understanding. This was largely due to the increase in research and knowledge about religions outside of Western Christianity.

Rev. J. P. Mukengeshayi Matata has been a member of the mission society of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary since 1981. He studied philosophy and theology in Kinshasa, RD Congo, and in Cameroon before coming to Japan in 1989. He received his MA in theology from Sophia University, Tokyo, in 1995. He is currently director of the Oriens Institute for Religious Research in Tokyo and a member of the board of the International Shinto Research Institute.

Spiritual Growth Through Interfaith Encounters by Hans Ucko

Religion is a player in this world and society. It has a tradition of ethical and moral values to offer for the discourse in society. Every religion has a contribution to make.

Hans Ucko is president of Religions for Peace Europe and co-chair of the Day of Prayer and Action for Children of Arigatou Foundation, Tokyo. Dr. Ucko was for many years responsible for the interfaith dialogue program of the World Council of Churches in Geneva and has written extensively on interreligious relations and dialogue.

Building a Common Ground for Religious Encounters

An interview with Rev. Juan Masiá

Rev. Juan Masiá has spent most of his life in Japan since 1966 and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Tokyo in 1973. Since that time, he has been a leading proponent of interreligious dialogue in Japan and his native country of Spain. When Father Masiá visited Rissho Kosei-kai in June of this year, Dharma World interviewed him on how dialogue between people of different cultures and religions can be successfully promoted.

Rev. Juan Masiá was 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 now teaches Christian theology at St. Thomas University in Amagasaki, near Kobe. In 2008 he published a Spanish translation of the Threefold Lotus Sutra. He also serves as a special fellow of the Peace Research Institute affiliated with the Japanese Committee of the World Conference of Religions for Peace.

The Task That Interreligious Dialogue Presents by Nichiko Niwano

Rissho Kosei-kai’s president, Rev. Nichiko Niwano, delivered an address in the guest palace of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome on June 16, 2009, during the opening ceremony of the Fourth Summit of Religious Leaders, held before the G8 summit of leading industrialized nations convened in July in L’Aquila, Italy. The following are adapted excerpts from that address.

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).

Applying Buddhist Values for Successful Interreligious Dialogue on Ethics
by Parichart Suwanbubbha

One of the most important values in Buddhism is tolerance, not a “lazy tolerance,” but rather accepting everything and everyone as they are. This value implies an acceptance of plurality.

Assistant Professor Dr. Parichart Suwanbubbha is a vice director of the Mahidol University Research Center for Peace Building in Nakornpathom, Thailand. She is a member of the board of Globethics.net Foundation in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a secretary of the Inter-Religious Council for Peace – Thailand.

Working Together for Lasting Peace 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.


Self-Defense and Defense Against the Self by Jack Miles

Opening remarks at the Symposium on Religion and Peace, held under the theme “Global Militarization – Religions’ Response,” at the Student Center of the University of California, Irvine (UCI), on May 13, 2010.

Jack Miles, distinguished professor of English and religious studies with the University of California at Irvine and senior fellow for religious affairs with the Pacific Council on International Policy, is a writer whose work has appeared in many publications. His book God: A Biography won a Pulitzer Prize in 1996. He is currently at work as general editor of the forthcoming Norton Anthology of World Religions.


The Significance for Today of Gandhian Philosophy

Ms. Ela Gandhi, a South African peace activist and a granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, visited Japan from October 30 to November 7, 2009, to call at Rissho Kosei-kai’s headquarters and Dharma Centers and to meet Japanese parliamentarians. Dr. Pema Gyalpo interviewed Ms. Gandhi in Tokyo for Dharma World on her long-standing involvement in social work in South Africa and on the unfading significance of the Gandhian philosophy in the twenty-first century.

Ela Gandhi, a member of parliament in South Africa from 1994 to 2004, is founder of the Gandhi Development Trust and chancellor of the Durban University of Technology. She also serves as a member of the board of trustees of the Commission on Religious Affairs of the African National Congress and as an honorary president of the World Conference of Religions for Peace.

Pema Gyalpo, PhD, is a professor in the Faculty of Law and the Graduate School of Toin University of Yokohama. His fields of research include international and regional studies in South and Central Asia. Born in Tibet in 1953, he has lived in Japan since 1965 and now serves as director emeritus of the Tibet Culture Center in Tokyo. He is also a popular columnist and commentator for Japanese media.

Book Review

“The Threefold Lotus Sutra: A Modern Commentary” by Nikkyo Niwano is not included in this issue. The next installment will appear in the January – March 2011 issue.

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