Back to listOct 17, 2005

Institute of Oriental Philosophy Cosponsors Symposium with Harvard University's Yenching Institute and Center for the Study of World Religions

Harvard and visiting scholars discuss "Perspectives of Religion and Globalization"

On October 7, the Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP), Hachioji, Tokyo, sponsored with Harvard University's Yenching Institute and Center for the Study of World Religions (CSWR) a symposium entitled "Perspectives on Religion and Globalization." Some 50 Harvard scholars discussed the role of religion in coping with various issues of the global community, such as growing disparity between the haves and have-nots, the rise in international terrorism, and environmental degradation that have reached alarming levels. Panelists and topics were as follows: "'Globalization' in Historical Perspective: A View From Thai Buddhism," CSWR Director Donald Swearer; "How Buddhism Can Contribute to the Creation of a Dialogical Civilization," IOP Director Yoichi Kawada; "The Lotus Sutra and the Dialogue of Religions," Hiroshi Kanno, director of the International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology; and "Toward a Dialogical Civilization: Religious Leaders as Public Intellectuals."

Referring to the rise of Buddhism in Thailand, Professor Swearer expressed his belief that both an inner-directed revolution and forces spurring social revolution, found in the bodhisattva way, are crucial.

Professor Tu urged that a dialogical civilization, grounded in humanism and spirituality, is essential to fostering global citizens in the age of globalization. This type of "dialogue" is rooted in people's everyday lives and is oriented toward a mutual inclusivism that embraces both humanism and spirituality. Professor Tu emphasized that conformity was not the goal, but that religions should harness universality through harmony that acknowledges diversity while preserving respective traditions, for the sake of humanity's prosperity.

Dr. Kawada introduced the Buddhist concept of the "oneness of self and environment," and second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda's view that the universe embodies compassion. Speaking on the teachings contained in the Lotus Sutra, Professor Kanno stated that individuals manifesting the bodhisattva spirit embodied in a "great vow" and "compassion" were crucial for overcoming global issues.