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On September 6, a one-day symposium on "Buddhist Environmentalism" was held at the University of Southern California (USC) Doheny Memorial Library. The symposium was jointly hosted by the Center for Japanese Religions and Culture at USC, the SGI-affiliated Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) and the Asia Society Southern California. Experts in Buddhist approaches to the environment from the US and Japan attended, as well as an audience of around 30 students and other concerned individuals.
The symposium was chaired by Duncan Williams, codirector of the Center for Japanese Religions and Culture (CJRC) and director of the USC School of Religion. In his opening remarks, Professor Ruben L. F. Habito of Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology highlighted ways the wisdom of Buddhism can contribute to healing the Earth. He also mentioned Nichiren’s concern that we must transform the planet into what he called "the Lotus land."
Nathaniel Rich of UC Santa Barbara addressed the issue of compassion for all sentient beings and vegetarianism in Tibetan Buddhism, and Professor Stephanie Kaza of the University of Vermont gave a presentation on how Buddhist perspectives and leadership could contribute to the challenges posed by climate change.
From IOP, Dr. Mikio Matsuoka gave a talk titled "The Wisdom of Ecosophy and Buddhism," Dr. Shuichi Yamamoto spoke on the Buddhist influence on Edo Period ecosystems and forestry protection in Japan, and IOP Director Dr. Yoichi Kawada addressed environmental issues and approaches to happiness.
Joan Anderson of the SGI Office of Public Information also spoke on the environmental activism of SGI members around the world.
On September 5, the IOP also made a donation of books and facsimile Lotus Sutra manuscripts to the library of the Center for Japanese Religions and Culture.
[Adapted from a report from the SGI Office of Public Information and the September 15, 2013, issue of Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Martin Cohen]
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