The Institute of Oriental Philosophy
The 32nd Annual Conference
On March 19 and 20, the Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) held its 32nd annual conference at Soka University and IOP respectively. At the conference, marking the 55th anniversary of its founding, domestic and overseas research fellows gathered to have significant presentations and active discussions on various themes including the Lotus Sutra, interreligious and intercivilizational dialogue, and addressing issues related to peace and human rights, and the environment.
IOP invited Dr. Noranit Setabutr and Dr. Pataraporn Sirikanchana from the World Buddhist University (WBU) in the Kingdom of Thailand as guest speakers to the symposium, “Global Challenge Facing Humanity and Buddhism” held on March 19. WBU was founded as an academic institute to advance the study of Buddhism and has facilitated an academic exchange with IOP since 2002. The full texts will be published in The Journal of Oriental Studies Vol.27.
Dr. Noranit, Acting Rector of WBU, delivered his keynote address entitled, "Buddhism and Peace" as follows:
As our contemporary world has been globalized, people can easily get along with each other. In spite of such human bonds, why does opposition still occur and turn into conflict and war?
In fact, the whole world is caught up in many kinds of conflicts and wars that simultaneously occur, such as the wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine. These conflicts and wars are actually caused by human beings and continue to exist. We should halt conflicts before they escalate. How can we do this? As a Buddhist, I often think of Lord Buddha's teachings. One such teaching was that of the four noble truths (dukkha, samudaya, nirodha and magga). I believe that we can apply these to bring about peace.
If the trauma of war can be thought of as dukkha or suffering, we must search for samudaya or the cause in order to practice nirodha or cessation. It is only then that we will achieve magga or the means of liberating us from suffering.
War is caused by human beings. That is to say that war is initiated by leaders. Therefore, leaders should make sure not to lose sight of what is good when their judgement is clouded with self-interest and emotion. To solve the challenges facing humanity, it is necessary for leaders to take responsibility for establishing peace and "ten virtues" including gentleness and self-control. Only then can we start paving the way to peace.
Dr. Pataraporn, Vice-Rector of academic affairs at WBU, gave her lecture entitled, "The Spirit of Environmental Preservation in the Buddhist Teachings" as follows:
Today, as most people actually face environmental crises and natural disasters, they have been alerted to their responsibility for such issues. Modernization brought forth by human greed and irresponsible activities has a harmful impact on the environment and the quality of their lives. Any kind of development is in vain without human development based on moral or ethical cultivation. We are currently on the track of negative development due to our lack of education, right motives and right views. It is certain that we need a sustainable development to cure our ailing society.
Many passages in the Buddhist scriptures encourage concern for the environment and preservation of nature. In the Saṃyutta Nikāya of the Tripiṭaka, Buddhists are taught to attain the perfection of morality (sīla-sampadā) in order to understand what an organized lifestyle is, what good behavior means, and the importance of the emvironment. Through the Buddhist scriptures, we thus learn to adopt a basic level of morality, e.g., proper conduct in our relationship with society and nature.
We are a part of nature. If nature and our environments are destroyed in either a natural or social way, we cannot live happily and can hardly survive. Our environmental concern should not exist merely in our generation but had better extend to the next generation for the sake of the entire world.
At the symposium, Dr. Shuichi Yamamoto, Senior Research Fellow, and Ms. Kyoko Oshima, Research Fellow of IOP, delivered their lectures entitled, "Perspectives of Mahayana Buddhism on the Destruction of Nature: Evaluating the Value of Nature” and “A Future without Nuclear Weapons―Thoughts from the Standpoint of Buddhist Principles of Peace―.”
In conjunction with the symposium, IOP held research meetings on March 19 and 20.
・“The Cause of Evil and the Order of the Universe in the Theology of Thomas Aquinas” by Dr. Tatsuya Yamazaki (Research Fellow, IOP)
・“Cultural acculturation and religious movements in postwar Japan” by Dr. Katsuaki Onishi (Research Fellow, IOP)
・“Causes of Problems and the Future Forms of Coexistence in the Recent Middle East and Turkey” by Dr. Hideki Iwaki (Commissioned Research Fellow, IOP)
・“Hope and courage in Arabic poetry during the Arab revolution in Cairo 2011―The poems of Ahmad Fuad Nejm―” by Dr. Francesca Maria Corrao (Overseas Research Fellow, IOP)
・“Artificial Intelligence and Religious Belief” by Dr. Kenichi Maegawa (Research Fellow, IOP)
・“Factors of the Rise and Fall of the Palmyrene Empire” by h.c. Katsuhisa Yamada (Commissioned Research Fellow, IOP)
・“Physiological bases for the emergence of my conscious experience and technologies for reading and manipulating of the contents of consciousness” by Dr. Masahito Nemoto (Commissioned Research Fellow, IOP)
・“Consideration on suicide trends among Japanese citizens from the viewpoint of public health, especially of mental or behavioral health” by MD Chikara Yamaguchi (Commissioned Research Fellow, IOP)
・“Group-complexity and Self-complexity in Educational Settings: Proposal of Formulas and a Framework for Categorizing Practice” by Prof. Yuichi Toda (Commissioned Research Fellow, IOP)
・“Comparative Analysis on Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov) and the Horse of Diane (Shinichi Makino)―From the Motive of Diane Point of View―” by Dr. Mitsunori Sagae (Commissioned Research Fellow, IOP)