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!

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!


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] (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!


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



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



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.


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



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、 080-8911-5114


JNEB(Japan Network of Engaged Buddhists)

Kenju-in Temple

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