The New International Engaged Buddhism Study Group

The Engaged Buddhism Study Group began in Tokyo in 2004 initiated by the Zenseikyo Foundation & Buddhist Council for Youth and Child Welfare and the AYUS International Buddhist Cooperation Network along with some other individual engaged Buddhists in order to examine the ways Buddhists could confront a variety of social issues. Since that time, Buddhists in Japan have become increasingly engaged in a wide variety of pressing social issues, from trauma care and suicide prevention to working with the homeless, elderly, and disaster victims to activism against nuclear power and militarism and finally working to build and revive the spiritual and ecological culture of Japan. These activities and movements are a far cry from the negative image of “funeral Buddhism” that was prevalent in Japan at the end of the 20th century.

The next step in this challenge for Japanese Buddhism to re-invent and revive itself is to connect with Buddhists and other religious groups active in like-minded social activities outside of Japan. There are numerous international Buddhist associations and networks these days, but many of them are confined to a rather top-down exchange in which wealthy East Asian Buddhists provide aid and material support to “poor” Buddhists in South and Southeast Asia. The Japan Network of Engaged Buddhists (JNEB) is seeking to develop more horizontal relationships with Buddhists in other countries, creating collaborative actions in a wide variety of fields, especially concerning pressing issues like global climate change and inter-ethnic & inter-religious conflict.

Priests and nuns, researchers, NGO staff, journalists, students and people from various other sectors have been involved in this study group and our networking events. We welcome your participation in working for the harmonization of a peaceful inner life and a peaceful society in this time of increasing social division and intolerance. Please come join us this spring to engage in discussions with foreign Buddhists on their issues of concern and activities. Translation will be provided in Japanese, but you are also encouraged to come develop your international communication skills in English or the native language of our guest!

2019 Spring Series

June 26 (Wed.) 18:30-21:00

A Culture of Awakening:

How Buddhism can provide an inclusive path to national and global co-existence

Harsha

Guest: Harsha Navaratne

Chairman of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB)

Chairman of the Sewalanka Foundation, Sri Lanka

The recent church bombings in Sri Lanka and mosque shootings in New Zealand are yet another new set of examples of global, ethnic and religious conflict. But what are the driving forces behind these attacks and the larger global conflict? Are we truly entering the age of the Clash of Civilizations? Looking more deeply, we see complex fissures, such as disconnect in the Sri Lankan Muslim communities between new forms of fundamentalist Islam entering the nation and older, indigenized Muslim communities that co-existed with other religious groups for centuries. Within the Buddhist world as well, there is conflict between the new faces of Buddhist ethnic fundamentalism, such as in Myanmar, and major strands of an ecumenical, international Buddhism that promotes meditation, non-violent lifestyles, and social justice for all.

What is Japan’s role in these issues as both an important international political and economic power and a country that has been seen as predominantly Buddhist? Japan is also not without its own internal struggles: principally between a traditional conservatism that emphasizes Japanese exceptionalism and new forms of progressive culture emerging out of the economic and community decline of the last 30 years. Amidst this situation, what is the role of Japanese Buddhism in addressing these national and international fissures? Will it continue to be socially withdrawn and tacitly support Japan’s conservative legacy or will it seek to update itself and contribute to the growing international movement for social justice and climate justice?

Today’s special guest speaker, Harsha Navaratne, has been engaging his whole life with these issues in native Sri Lanka, specifically remolding the Sinhala Buddhist movement against British colonialism that became an ethnic chauvinist movement against Hindu Tamils in a long and traumatic civil war. In his role as the Chairman of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), he has also been active in regional and international dialogues for realizing a Culture of Awakening among all religions and peoples. The Clash of Civilizations is not inevitable. As Buddhists, a Culture of Awakening is daily practice for the benefit of ourselves and others, indivisibly.

Time:

18:30 Talk by Harsha Navaratne

19:30 Open conversation

20:30 ending

Entrance Fee: none

Registration:

Jonathan Watts: ogigaya[at]gmail.com

Location: Shinko-in Temple

1-1-5 Higashi Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0044

Tel: 03-3583-4766

 

May 21 (Tue.)

EcoDharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis

 Guest: David R. Loy

Teacher in the Sanbo-Kyodan Zen lineage

Former Professor of International Studies, Bunkyo University

Author of EcoDharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis (2019)
loy

It is no exaggeration to say that today humanity faces its greatest challenge ever: in addition to burgeoning social crises, a self-inflicted ecological catastrophe threatens civilization as we know it and (according to some scientists) perhaps even our survival as a species. Traditional Buddhist teachings help us wake up individually and realize our interdependence with others. Now we also need to consider how Buddhism can help us wake up and respond to this new predicament. And what does the eco-crisis imply about how we understand and practice Buddhism? The Buddhist response to our ecological predicament is ecodharma, a new term for a new development of the Buddhist tradition. It combines ecological concerns (eco) with the teachings of Buddhism and related spiritual traditions (dharma). What that actually means, and what difference it makes in how we live and practice, is still unfolding, but three components or aspects stand out at present: 1) practicing in the natural world, 2) exploring the eco-implications of Buddhist teachings, and 3) embodying that understanding in the eco-activism that is needed today. Social engagement remains a challenge for many Buddhists, for the traditional teachings have focused on one’s own peace of mind. On the other side, those committed to social action often experience fatigue, anger, depression, and burnout. The engaged bodhisattva/ecosattva path provides what each side needs, because it involves a double practice, inner (e.g., meditation) and outer (activism).

Come join us for an evening of inquiry with Loy-sensei about how to transform ourselves and our natural habitat, even “if it is too late”!

Time:

18:30 Opening and Introduction by Abbot of Kenju-in Temple, Rev. Hidehito Okochi

18:40 Talk by David Loy

19:30 Questions & Open Discussion

20:30 Dinner Party

Entrance Fee: none

Registration:

Jonathan Watts: ogigaya@gmail.com

Location: Kenju-in Temple

3-4-14 Koishikawa, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0002

Tel: 03-3812-3711, Fax: 03-3815-7951

e-mail: kenjuin@nam-mind.jp

Access: http://www.nam-mind.jp/access.htm

April 1 (Mon.)

A Holistic Approach to Environmental Protection and Community Development

Guest: Phra Sangkom Thanapanyo Khunsiri

Abbot of the Smart Pagoda, Chonburi, Thailand

sangkom2Over the last four decades, Japanese companies with the support of the Japanese government have been responsible for vast deforestation in a number of regions in Southeast Asia, including Thailand where most of its forests and deep jungles have been destroyed. This crisis along with a number of other environmental ones causes my industrial development in Thailand have given birth to a strong civil society movement in Thailand to protect and rehabilitate the environment. One of the main actors in this movement are the so-called “Thai Development Monks”, a small but dedicated group of Buddhist monks who live within or on the edges of Thailand’s remained forests.

Today’s guest speaker, Phra Sangkom Thanapanyo Khunsiri, is one of Thailand’s leading environmental and development monks. Starting with efforts to protect jungle near his temple from forest fires, he rehabilitated the watershed and environment around his Temple of Buddha Relics in the hills of Chiang Mai. Working with local villagers, he then established a school for children to learn practical skills of sustainably harvest forest resources to make ecological shampoos, soaps, and other products to develop a right livelihood economy for families struggling in poverty. His most recent activity has been to build the brand new Smart Pagoda in the province of Chonburi east of Bangkok that is ecological in design and uses solar energy to serve its needs. This is integrated into another local school in ecological and right livelihood for children and young adults. Phra Sangkom, together with the abbot of Kenju-in, Rev. Hidehito Okochi, is also a member of the new Eco-Temple Community Development Project under the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), seeking to link like-minded “Development Monks” to create a holistic system of ecological and social development in a variety of regions in Asia.

Time:

19:00 Opening and Introduction by Abbot of Kenju-in Temple, Rev. Hidehito Okochi

19:10 Talk by Phra Sangkom

20:00   Questions & Open Discussion

21:00 Conclusion and End

Entrance Fee: none

Registration:

Jonathan Watts: ogigaya@gmail.com

Location: Kenju-in Temple

3-4-14 Koishikawa, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0002

Tel: 03-3812-3711, Fax: 03-3815-7951

e-mail: kenjuin@nam-mind.jp

Access: http://www.nam-mind.jp/access.htm

 

2018 Spring Series

May 9 (Wed.)

Theme: The Potential for Inter-Cultural Peace among Buddhists-Muslims-Hindus in Asia

Harsha Moo in Nagpur.jpgGuests: Harsha Navaratne (INEB Chairman)
Somboon Chungprampree (INEB Executive Secretary)

Mainstream media has been focusing for decades on the cultural and often violent conflict among the three great Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in the Middle East. More recently, however, are the increasing number of conflicts among Buddhists and Muslims in South Asia (Sri Lanka & Bangladesh) and Southeast Asia (Myanmar & Thailand), piled on top of long the older conflicts between Hindus and Muslims in India and Hindus and Buddhists in Sri Lanka. Buddhism has generally had a more positive global image as a religion of peace, but these recent conflicts have exposed very old patterns of Buddhist nationalism and chauvinism. What are we to make of these trends? Is Buddhism no less prone to chauvinist violence & is Islam actually more peaceful than it has been made out to be? How much are these conflicts really about religious communities and their value systems OR rather about economic and political forces that have used them to advance agendas of profit and power? Finally, and perhaps most importantly, what role can ecumenical and progressively minded Buddhist and Muslim groups play in building a greater civilizational culture of peace across Asia that can temper economic and political agendas driven by greed, anger, and delusion?

Our two speakers are deeply involved in these above questions and issues. Harsha Navaratne, the Chairman of the Executive Board of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), has devoted his life to progressive, religious based social development: first as a member of the founding generation of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, and more recently, as Chairman of INEB, developing programs to bring Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and Christians together for peaceful dialogue in Sri Lanka and across the region. Before becoming Executive Secretary of INEB in 2009, Somboon Chungprampree worked for progressive, Buddhist based social development in Myanmar. More recently, he has help to guide INEB’s International Forum on Buddhist-Muslim Relations, which has brought together Buddhist and Muslims leaders throughout South Asia and Southeast Asia to promote mutual understanding and speak openly on non-violent dialogue and diplomacy. Please join us for a fascinating evening of dialogue!

Time:

18:30 Opening and Introduction to INEB (Jonathan Watts, Director of the Japan Network of Engaged Buddhists – JNEB)

18:40 Talk by Harsha Navaratne & Somboon Chungprampree

19:30    Questions & Open Discussion

20:30   Optional Dinner at local restaurant

Location: Shinko-in Temple

1-1-5 Higashi Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0044

Tel: 03-3583-4766

Contact: ogigaya[AT]gmail.com (Jonathan Watts)

March 5 (Mon.)

Theme: Interfaith Solidarity for the Environment & the Potential of the Eco-Temple Movement

fletcherGuest: Rev. Fletcher Harper
Executive Director of GreenFaith (U.S.A)

Rev. Harper is an Episcopal priest and the Executive Director of GreenFaith, one of the oldest religious-environmental organizations in the United States. GreenFaith’s mission is to inspire, educate, and mobilize people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership. Under Rev. Harper’s leadership, GreenFaith has developed numerous educational and training programs for religious communities on environmental justice and protection. Rev. Harper teaches and speaks at houses of worship from a range of denominations nationally and internationally about the moral, spiritual basis for environmental stewardship and justice. Author of GreenFaith: Mobilizing God’s People to Protect the Planet (Abingdon Press, 2015), Rev. Harper served as a parish priest for ten years and in leadership positions in the Episcopal Church before becoming GreenFaith’s leader.

Rev. Harper is presently travelling through Thailand and Japan, in part to meet with Buddhists and members of INEB/JNEB to develop GreenFaith’s partnerships in Asia. At the 2017 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) held in Bonn, Germany, GreenFaith launched a multi-faith sustainable living initiative. The plan is to demonstrate to religious followers “the public” ways of making behavioral changes in one’s own locality and home, for example using less energy, adopting a more ecological diet, and taking less wasteful transport. INEB and its new environmental network, the Inter-religious Climate and Ecology network (ICE), has a number of members in Asia promoting such work in religious communities. Our host for the event, Rev. Hidehito Okochi, is one such religious environmental pioneer, having established two “eco-temples” in Tokyo over the last twenty years. Come join us for a lively evening of exchange on these critical issues!

Time:

18:30 Opening and Introduction

18:45 Rev. Harper & GreenFaith

19:15 Rev. Okochi & INEB Eco-Temple

19:45  Questions & Open Discussion

20:30 Dinner Party @ local Indian restaurant

 

Entrance: free; dinner 2,000 yen plus drinks

Location: Kenju-in Temple

3-4-14 Koishikawa, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0002

Tel: 03-3812-3711, Fax: 03-3815-7951

e-mail: kenjuin@nam-mind.jp

Access: http://www.nam-mind.jp/access.htm

2016 Spring Series

MAY 13th (Fri)

Maitriveer2Theme: Nationalism, Democracy, and Buddhism in the Vision of Dalit Buddhist Leader and India’s First Law Minister Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Guest: Maitriveer Nagarjuna

Matriveer is a Professor in the Department of Aesthetics and Philosophy at English and Foreign Languages University in Hyderabad and an ordained member of the Triratna Budhha Mahasangha, a community of Buddhist practitioners in India that have emerged from the efforts of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to lead former outcastes or Dalits out of the oppressive structures of Hindu caste society. Maitriveer also works as a teacher of Dalit Buddhist youth from various regions of India at the Nagaloka Center in Nagpur, Central India, the city where Ambedkar led some 500,000 Dalits in conversion to Buddhism in 1946. In this age of growing nationalism and crisis of electoral democracy in India, Japan, and elsewhere, Maitriveer will speak about Ambedkar’s Buddhist vision.

Location: Kenju-in Temple

3-4-14 Koishikawa, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0002

Tel: 03-3812-3711, Fax: 03-3815-7951

e-mail: kenjuin@nam-mind.jp

Access: http://www.nam-mind.jp/access.htm

MAY 27th (Fri)

DL_Smile2Theme: The Political Situation in the United States & International Buddhist Activities to Counter Climate Change

Guest: David R. Loy

David is a Zen practitioner, writer and holds a Doctorate in comparative religion, ethics, and society. In 1971 he began studying Zen with the Sambo Kyodan lineage and in 1984 moved to Kamakura to study under its head teacher Yamada Koun, receiving dharma transmission in 1988. He is now a regular contributor for the Huffington Post and author of numerous popular volumes on Buddhism and social issues, such as The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory. Most recently, he has been spearheading an international Buddhist response to climate change issues through writings, workshops, and networking.

  • 16:30-17:30 special meditation session with David Loy

Location: Shinko-in Temple

1-1-5 Higashi Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0044
Click here for a map

JUNE 11 (Sat.)

gautham (1)Theme: The Activities of Neo-Buddhists in India and the Development of Eco-Temples

Guest: Gautham Prabhu Nagappan

Gautham is involved in various kinds of social development work among some of the most impoverished communities of Tamil Nadu in South India, many of whose members have converted to Buddhism as a means to escape the identity of caste discrimination. Gautham will talk about this situation and his activities, including the new Eco-Temple Community Development Project and his plan to build the Sukhavati (Pure Land) Eco-Temple being done in coordination with our host Rev. Hidehito Okochi, the abbot of Kenju-in Temple.

Time:

17:00 Opening and Introduction

17:15 Guest Speaker

18:30 Questions and Open Discussion

19:00 Out for Dinner

Location: Kenju-in Temple

3-4-14 Koishikawa, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-0002

Tel: 03-3812-3711, Fax: 03-3815-7951

e-mail: kenjuin@nam-mind.jp

Access: http://www.nam-mind.jp/access.htm

July 5 (Tue.)

13495010_10154495780743287_795420723459636577_nTheme: The Connections between Rinsho (Clinical) Buddhism, Contemplative Care, and Engaged Buddhism

Guest: Rev. Yusuki Matsushita (Shingon Sect Buddhist Priest, Doctor of Clinical Psychology)

Contact: Jonathan Watts – JNEB Coordinator

ogigaya@gmail.com、 080-8911-5114

Sponsors:

JNEB(Japan Network of Engaged Buddhists)

Kenju-in Temple

IBEC (International Buddhist Exchange Center of the Kodo Kyodan Buddhist Fellowship)