Dharma World

October-December 2014, Volume 41

October-December 2014, Volume 41(PDF)

Buddhism and Language

Buddhism and Language: The Lotus Sutra by Gene Reeves

Broadly speaking, I think there are at least two reasons behind the Lotus Sutra’s positive view of language, behind its admonition to have faith in and seek to understand the truthful words of the Buddha: its positive view of nearly everything, and its teaching of skillful means.

Gene Reeves has done research and lectured on the Lotus Sutra worldwide for more than a quarter century. He was a visiting professor at the University of Peking and a professor at Renmin University of China in Beijing until retiring in 2012, and he serves as an international advisor to Rissho Kosei-kai. His recent works include The Lotus Sutra and The Stories of the Lotus Sutra (Wisdom Publications, 2008 and 2010).

Embodying Buddha-Speech by Natalie Gummer

If “reading” can lead to . . . radical transformations – if reading is a process of incorporating buddha-speech – then it entails much more than silent engagement with the meaning of the text. The practices advocated in the sutras offer the listener a pathway toward the progressive incorporation of the text, one that invites repeated and ever-more-intense engagement with its words.

Natalie Gummer is a literary and cultural historian of Buddhism with a PhD from Harvard University. She is currently Professor of Religious Studies at Beloit College, Wisconsin. Her research examines the performative aspects of Mahayana Buddhist sutras and the ethics of reading, with a focus on Buddhist literary culture in premodern South Asia. She is coeditor of Defining Buddhism(s): A Reader, and the author of several articles on Mahayana Buddhist sutras and textual practices.

A Buddhist Paradigm of Language by Dennis Hirota

For Pure Land Buddhists, the way leads not through dispelling discriminative thought and speech by meditative praxis but precisely in and through language.

Dennis Hirota is Professor Emeritus of Shin Buddhist Studies at Ryukoku University, Kyoto. He was Head Translator of The Collected Works of Shinran (1997) and has published several books on Japanese Buddhist thought, including No Abode: The Record of Ippen (1997), Wind in the Pines: Classic Writings of the Way of Tea as a Buddhist Path (1995), Shinran: shukyo gengo no kakumeisha (1998), and Asura’s Harp: Engagement with Language as Buddhist Path (2006). He is currently completing a book on Shinran’s thought in the light of Heidegger.

Subverting Words: Impasse and Breakthrough in Zen Koan Practice by Ruben L. F. Habito

Koans are not about doctrinal content, nor are they moral guidelines or ritual performance. Rather, they are to be taken as configurations of words whose entire function is to overturn the conventional use of words and lead a spiritual seeker toward a transformative experience.

Ruben L. F. Habito teaches world religions and spirituality at the Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, and serves as Guiding Teacher of the Maria Kannon Zen Center, both in Dallas, Texas.

Buddhism and Language: Thoughts on the Relationship between Word, Writing, and Performance in Buddhist Cultural History by Brian Ruppert

Just as the Gospel of John offered a new interpretation of language with its discourse of logos at the time of its completion near the end of the first century CE, the appearance of the Mahayana sutras constituted a watershed moment in the history of the ritual and narrative role of language in Buddhist belief and practice.

Brian Ruppert, PhD (Princeton), is Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Department of Religion, University of Illinois. He is the author of Jewel in the Ashes: Buddha Relics and Power in Early Medieval Japan (Harvard University Press, 2000), “Buddhism in Japan” (in Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed., Macmillan Reference, 2005), “Buddhism and Law in Japan” (in Buddhism and Law: An Introduction, Cambridge University Press, 2014), and numerous articles in Japanese. He is coauthor of the forthcoming A Cultural History of Japanese Buddhism (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015).

Why Gautama Buddha Hesitated to Preach: Challenging the Constraints of Language in Buddhism by Hiroyuki Sato

Buddhism’s establishment is . . . inextricably tied up with words in a relationship based not on the belief that everything can be conveyed through words but on the determination to push words to their limit precisely because Buddhism recognizes that words cannot convey everything.

Hiroyuki Sato, LittD in Indian Philosophy and Buddhist Studies, is a Professor in the Faculty of Human Sciences in the Distance Learning (Correspondence) Division of Musashino University, Tokyo, where he teaches Buddhist Studies. He is a research fellow at the university’s Institute of Buddhist Culture and serves as a councilor of the Japanese Association for Comparative Philosophy. He is the author of many books and articles on Buddhism and Indian philosophy.


Words Connect Us with Others 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).


Jewish and Buddhist Responses to Violence by Harold Kasimow

In spite of the radical differences between the Buddhist and Jewish religious traditions, their responses to violence are surprisingly similar. The profound reverence for life that Nikkyo Niwano stresses in his book A Buddhist Approach to Peace is as central to Judaism as it is to Buddhism.

Harold Kasimow is the George A. Drake Professor of Religious Studies Emeritus at Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa. This article is a revised version of an article originally published in Interreligious Insight: A Journal of Dialogue and Engagement 2, no. 22 (April 2004). Among his previous contributions to Dharma World are “A Buddhist Path to Mending the World” and “Mount Sinai and Mount Fuji: The American Jewish Fascination with Buddhism.”

Founder’s Memoirs

The Brighter Society Movement and the Spirit of the “Universal Gate of Truth” 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.

Prism of the Lotus Sutra

Prism of the Lotus Sutra (6) The Bimba Fruit / The Turtle / Bamboo 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.

Lay Buddhist Conference

The Significance of Lay Buddhism in Japanese History by Masazumi Shojun Okano

The International Lay Buddhist Forum held its seventh world assembly April 23-29 at Rissho Kosei-kai headquarters in Tokyo. Some fifty people, including leaders of lay Buddhist organizations in Australia, Europe, North America, South Asia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, discussed “Varieties of Lay Buddhism.” The following is a keynote speech at the opening session by Rev. Dr. Masazumi Shojun Okano, president of Kodo Kyodan Buddhist Fellowship, a lay Buddhist organization based in Yokohama.

Masazumi Shojun Okano is president of Kodo Kyodan Buddhist Fellowship. After graduating from Keio University in Tokyo, he received his DPhil from Oxford University in the United Kingdom and spent time teaching at universities in the United States and Hong Kong. Rev. Okano serves on the Executive Committee of the Japan Buddhist Federation and the Advisory Committee of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists.

The Threefold Lotus Sutra: A Modern Commentary (118)

The Sutra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law Chapter 23 The Former Lives of the Bodhisattva Medicine King (2) by Nikkyo Niwano

This is the 118th 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