Research Trip Report, 3rd Unit

Overseas Research: “Study Meeting on Multicultural Harmonious Co-existence and Participating in an International Conference in Austria”, 3rd Unit


 In 3rd Unit of Ircp, we visited Austria from August 17-25, 2014, to conduct an overseas research project entitled “Assembly on Multicultural Harmonious Co-existence and Participating in an International Conference in Austria.” There were three participants from Japan, Miyamoto Hisayoshi (Ircp Researcher), Watanabe Shogo (Ircp Researcher), and Horiuchi Toshio (Ircp Research Associate).

   On August 18 and 19, the workshop entitled “Toward a Society of Multicultural Harmonious Co-existence: What Religions and Ideas can do?” was held at the seminar room of the University of Innsbruck. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss which approaches to the research theme of Unit 3, studies on the basis of thought of harmonious coexistence in multicultural society, were possible from the viewpoints of Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

    First, Dr. Luitgard Soni conducted a presentation entitled “Significance of Narratives in an Intercultural Context.” Soni discussed examples of a bodhisattva originating in Buddhist tales undergoing numerous changes and eventually being accepted as Christian saint, included in Catholic ceremonies, and receiving such respect and reverence that they were commemorated by their own holidays. This fascinating presentation demonstrated that tales can exceed boundaries of religion and culture. Dr. Jayandra Soni (lecturer at the University of Innsbruck) conducted a presentation entitled “Non-Violence and its Role in Intercultural Dialogue.” The ancient Indian religious scripture Caraka Saṃhitā sets forth rules to be followed in debates, and Soni also pointed out that Jainism prohibits violence and that the Jain rules regarding behavior in debates were elevated to rules regarding behavior in daily life. On the Japanese side, Watanabe conducted a presentation entitled “Compassion (Karuṇā) and Pity (Anukampā) in Mahāyāna Sūtras.” The basis of the compassion and pity (karuṇā, anukampā) seen throughout early Buddhism and Mahāyāna Buddhism is a notion of empathy and mutual suffering wherein one shares in the pain of others. Watanabe pointed out that this concept is linked with the notion of coexistence and gave significant concrete examples from both early Buddhism and Mahāyāna scriptures.Also, Watanabe conducted an etymological analysis of the original Sanskrit, pointing out by tracing the Latin and Greek roots that the English translations “compassion” and “sympathy” share the same meanings as the Sanskrit, demonstrating the universality of these concepts. Miyamoto conducted a presentation entitled “The Individual and Society in Hinduism,” pointing out that while individual salvation is the main concern of the classical Indian śruti and smṛti scriptures, the concept of mutual aid in society also received close attention from the modern Indian Bengal Renaissance movement. We were able to interact with experts of the departments of philosophy and theology at the University of Innsbruck, establishing a basis for a continuing cooperative relationship.

    On the 21, we arrived in Vienna. At 11時00分 AM on the 22, Horiuchi gave a presentation entitled “Critisism of Heretics in the Laṅkāvatārasūtra:Towards Constructing a Philosophy of Multicultural Coexistence from the Viewpoint of Buddhism” at the 17th Congress of the International Association of Buddhist Studies (Iabs) held at the University of Vienna. Horiuchi presented a passage from the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, a Mahāyāna scripture, that criticizes the teachings of heretics regarding salvation, and conducted a comparative investigation of Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese documents. Through an analysis of this criticism of foreign religions, the presentation argued that “habitat isolation” of ideas was which is a philosophical version of Kinji Imanishi’s concept of habitat isolation, and the silver rule (rather than the golden rule) derived from this concept might provide wisdom that could be applied to the coexistence of multiple cultures and religions. That evening, at the conference dinner, we interacted with many scholars from Austria and abroad. We also took part in an international Buddhist conference on the 23 and attended the presentations there. After this, we visited the national library and other sites.

    We reported on the results of the workshop and conference presentations in the form of the Unit 3 Travel Report/Seminar on October 22, and are also planning to publish manuscripts in the annual report to be issued at the end of the fiscal year. 2