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Symposium: “Dialogue between East and West” Held in Spain

On April 29, 2009, a symposium, titled “A Dialogue between East and West—Towards Social Cohesion and Harmonious Coexistence” was held at the University of Lleida (UdL: Universitat de Lleida), Catalonia, Spain, and cosponsored by the Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP), UdL, UNESCO Association of Lleida, the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences and SGI-Spain. This symposium was held to commemorate the exhibition “The Lotus Sutra—A Message of Peace and Harmonious Coexistence” held from April 28 to May 16.

In his remarks, UdL Rector Joan Viñas Salas stated that spirituality that encourages us to explore and enrich the human mind can greatly contribute to overcoming our common challenges and help expand opportunities for dialogue. He expressed his wish to create a world based on the idea of “non-violence” and a “culture of peace.”

Jésus Sans, President of UNESCO Association of Lleida, stressed the importance of dialogue as a means to identify and gain greater understanding of humankind’s diverse spiritual values and to strengthen bonds with one another. He stated that the Lotus Sutra exhibition is a significant event which promotes dialogues to create humanistic networks among different cultures, civilizations and religions.
Executive secretary of UNESCO Centre of Catalona and head of the Department of Interreligious Dialogue, Franceac Torradeflot, said that the Lotus Sutra exhibition was pointing the way for exploring the spirituality of East and West and the common ground between them. He emphasized the significance of this in the modern world where the need for dialogue among religions was growing. [Spanish]                
IOP Director Yoichi Kawada spoke about Shakyamuni’s enlightenment and the ideas pulsating throughout the Lotus Sutra. He also talked about the role of Buddhism in creating harmonious coexistence among human beings. IOP Senior Research Fellow Toshie Kurihara gave a presentation titled “the Concept of Equality in the Lotus Sutra: The SGI’s Viewpoint.”

The following day, the IOP and SGI-Spain representatives participated in a conference sponsored by the University of La Laguna, Tenerife, at the Economic and Management Sciences Department Auditorium. Mr. Kawada spoke about SGI (Soka Gakkai International) within the historical context of Buddhism and also about SGI’s activities for the promotion of peace, culture and education. Professor Francisco Diez de Velasco and Professor Mar Moreno of the University of La Lagua said that Nichiren Buddhism shares the universal value which enables it to harmonize with other religions.

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