Back to listFeb 6, 2012

World Interfaith Harmony Week in Geneva

Mr. Fujii and Ms. Ramsay-JonesMr. Fujii (center) and Ms. Ramsay-Jones (right)

On February 6, representatives from the SGI UN Liaison Office in Geneva, Switzerland, and Soka Gakkai Suisse members gave a presentation on Nichiren Buddhism at an event celebrating World Interfaith Harmony Week at the Ecumenical Centre Chapel in Geneva.

The event, organized by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), was attended by representatives of various Christian groups, including the World Council of Churches and the World Communion of Reformed Churches, as well as a representative from Christian Aid Norway. Dr. John Taylor of the International Association for Religious Freedom, Geneva, and Mr. Abdul Amier Hashom of the Al-Hakim Foundation of Iraq also took part.

Following an explanation of the Week of Interfaith Harmony, and a hymn, Kazunari Fujii and Hayley Ramsay-Jones from the SGI UN Liaison Office, along with Soka Gakkai Suisse members, introduced the practice of Nichiren Buddhism and the significance of the Lotus Sutra, which emphasizes the dignity of all life.

SGI representativesSGI representatives’ demonstration of chanting and reciting portions of the Lotus Sutra

In explaining the significance of the lotus flower in Buddhism, Mr. Fujii pointed out that the lotus, though beautiful and pristine, is able to flourish due to the muddy pond it grows in, which is rich in nutrients. He continued, "In our lives because of the challenges, difficulties and adversities, just like the lotus flower, we are able to grow and manifest our own strength and beauty; in other words, from a Buddhist standpoint, we are able to transform 'poison into medicine'."

To symbolize of the significance of the lotus flower, Mr. Fujii and Ms. Ramsay-Jones presented participants with a gift of paper lotus flowers made from origami paper.

Local member Dominique Kohli then explained the meaning of "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" as chanted by SGI members. There was also a demonstration of chanting and reciting portions of the Lotus Sutra. The SGI members also offered payers for all those suffering in the world, including those affected by March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear accident, as well as the victims of the Utoya massacre in Norway in July 2011.

The service included Christian psalms and prayers on the theme of breaking down walls which separate people and uniting in harmony, as well as the singing of hymns with an international flavor.

[Adapted from a report from the SGI Office of Public Information (SGI-OPI); photos courtesy of SGI-OPI]