Peace and Disarmament

Back to listJun 1, 2011

Director of Toda Institute Speaks at SGI-USA's Culture of Peace Lecture Series

SGI-Italy youth wearing Senzatomica T-shirtsDr. Urbain speaks to lecture participants

On June 1, Dr. Olivier Urbain, director of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research and author of the book Daisaku Ikeda's Philosophy of Peace: Dialogue, Transformation and Global Citizenship spoke at the SGI-USA New York Culture Center as part of the Culture of Peace Distinguished Speakers Series.

More than 300 people attended, including Anwarul K. Chowdhury, former UN under-secretary-general, and Betty A. Reardon, founding director emeritus of the Teachers College Peace Education Center at Columbia University.

The Toda Institute director emphasized the basic values of trust, happiness and harmony, saying, "We have to dig deeper into our humanity to find common ground." Dr. Urbain identified values of Nichiren Buddhism that bridge differences and cultivate a philosophy of peace, including the concept of gender equality (as conveyed through the story of the dragon king's daughter in Nichiren's writings) and human revolution, or inner transformation.

Dr. Urbain's talk also examined how SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's commitment to dialogue has informed his role as a peacemaker. The senseless violence he witnessed in his youth during World War II, including the death of his eldest brother and the destruction of his home, had a profound impact on his life, said Dr. Urbain. Mr. Ikeda's personal experience of the horrors of war has led him to write and conduct dialogues for the sake of peace.

To date, Mr. Ikeda has published works that total more than 160,000 pages, surpassing that of the Russian literary giant Leo Tolstoy. Dr. Urbain cited in his research of Mr. Ikeda's works several key themes: inner transformation, dialogical methods for peace and the importance of global citizenship.

The speakers series commenced in 2007, with lecturers focusing on one or more of the eight action areas defined by the 1999 United Nations Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace. The series' aim is to foster a culture that rejects violence and addresses the root causes of conflict through the power of dialogue.

[Adapted from an article in the June 24, 2011, issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of Satoko Selina Highstein]