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Symposium: “Modern Society and Religion” Held at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

From October 13 to 14, 2009, a symposium on “Modern Society and Religion” was sponsored by the Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) and the Institute of World Religions of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing, China. This was the fourth symposium cosponsored by the IOP and the CASS. The first was titled “The Historical Significance of the Lotus Sutra and its Role in the 21st Century” (Tokyo, 1999), which was followed by “Mahayana Buddhism and Modern Civilization” (Beijing, 2001). The third focused on “Modern Civilization and Dialogue between Religions” (Beijing, 2004). The recent symposium dealt with the theme of “Modern Society and Religion,” and discussed the mission and potential of religion within the contemporary society aspiring to establish harmony and coexistence. Renowned Buddhist scholar and professor at Peking University Lou Yulie participated in the symposium. More than 70 researchers attended the event.

In a message from IOP founder Ikeda, he congratulated on the joint symposium held on the highly auspicious occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. He mentioned the ideas about intensifying exchanges between the cultures and young people of China and Japan. He mentioned that idea of a harmonious world, the Chinese spirit of concord and symbiosis, agrees with the Buddhist philosophy of dependent origination and symbiosis that has permeated all of Asia, and stressed the significance of mutual prosperity resulting from multidimensional exchanges in all areas, such as culture, education, scholarship, politics and economics. He expressed his wish that the fruit of the symposium will be intellectually creative for the human race and deepen mutual understanding in the scholarly dimension.
 
At the opening ceremony held at CASS on October 13, Institute of World Religions Director Zhuo Xinping and IOP Director Yoichi Kawada spoke. During the symposium, Director Yang Zengwen from the Research Institute of the Buddhism Culture of China lectured on Buddhist scholars' contributions to the friendship between China and Japan and the role of Buddhism in strengthening bonds between the countries. He traced back the history of exchanges between China and Japan, and expressed his wish to increase the research on the history of Buddhism in China and in Japan.

The following papers were presented during the two day symposium:
 
・Wei Daoru (Researcher of CASS)
   “Buddhism in China and Modern Society: An Introduction Centering Around the Teachings of Taixu and Yinshun”
 
・He Jingsong (Researcher of CASS)
  “The Merging of Neo-Daoism (Xuanxue 玄学) and Zen Buddhism (Chanxue 禅学) and the Awareness of Calligraphy Art—Modern Meanings of Paintings and Calligraphic Works of Zen Buddhism Thought”
 
・Zhang Zhigang (Researcher of CASS)
 “Re-understanding of the Social Role or the Cultural Function of Religion——Theoretical Reflections drawn from International Hot Issues after the Cold War and Religions”
 
・Yoichi Kawada (Director of IOP)
 “Buddhist Thoughts on Symbiosis—And its Contemporary Implications”
 
・Hiroshi Kanno (Senior Research Fellow of IOP)
  “The Bodhisattvas of the Earth in the Lotus Sutra: Involvement in the Human Society”
 
・Shuichi Yamamoto (Senior Research Fellow of IOP)
   “Sustainability and Buddhism: How do we measure quality of life and degree of happiness?”
 
・Ken’ichi Maegawa (Research Fellow of IOP)
   “Modern Nichirenist Discourses on Life and Josei Toda’s Buddhist Thought”


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