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3rd Unit : 2nd Meeting of Study Group Series “Formations of Written Religious Sacred Texts and Their Meaning: A Consideration for Tools for Creating Multicultural Harmonious Coexistence”

2nd Meeting of Study Group Series “FormationsofWritten Religious Sacred Tetxs and Their Meaning: A Concideration for Tools for Creating Multicultural Harmonious Co-existence,”, 3rd Unit

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  On October 18atthe Toyo University Hakusan Campus(Building8,Meeting Room 5), a meeting of study group series of the 3rd Unit entitled “FormationsofWritten Religious Sacred Tetxs and Their Meaning: A Concideration for Tools for Creating Multicultural Harmonious Co-existence,” was held for the second time. Religion is especially important in multicultural harmonious co-existence, and religious texts, as the written form of doctrine, are at the core of every religious group. This research conference was held in order to raise awareness of issues related to how sacred religious texts are transcribed and authorized.

   Starting with a perspective from early Buddhism, Professor Enomoto Fumio (Osaka University)presented about “The Formation of Early Buddhist Scriptures and Co-existence with Other Religions.” The following is an overview of his presentation.

    “Antagonism between religions or between denominations of one religion is an inescapable issue in working towards multicultural harmonious co-existence; this can be seen not only in the present but also throughout history. Early Indian Buddhism achieved a certain coexistence with the traditional Brahmanism and Jainism that existed at the time, and bases can be found for this in early Buddhist scriptures. In the Aṭṭhakavaggaof the Suttanipāta, which is thought to be the oldest Buddhist scripture, one can see an attitude of non-participation in conflicts. Contrary to previous research, it is wrong to understand the so-called “non-self” and the concept of “a True Brahman” as contradictory to Brahmanism. In early Buddhist references to the class system and war, we see that it is the individual’s mind, not the social system, where a revolution must occur. The theory that the Buddhist vinaya was formed for harmony with the surrounding society and the fact that those from the Brahman class  were the most within the Buddhist community show that Buddhism took an attitude of appeasement towards Brahmanism. To relate this back to multicultural harmonious co-existence, Buddhism’s concept of the ‘Middle Path’ (the idea of balance) is important for modern society.”

   Next, from the perspective of Mahayana Buddhism, Horiuchi Toshio (IRCP ResearchAssociate) gave a presentation on “The Formation of the Laṅkāvatārasūtra: Wisdom for Multicultural Harmonious Co-existence as Learned by Criticism of Heretics.” He started by providing an overview of previous research on the formation of the Laṅkāvatārasūtra. Next, he focused on a passage which expounds the criticism of Hereticalviews on Nirvana, attempting to learn lessons from the logic of the criticism that could be applied to multicultural harmonious co-existence. In a word, he said that there can be found akind of habitat segregation (sumiwake) withother religions. He also drew attention to the similar attitude in early Buddhism of “transcending dispute.” The vinaya (rules for monastic life) include an admonition “not to live with non-Buddhists,” which prescries that originally members of other religions who wanted to join Buddhist communities were kept under observation for a period of time to make sure that they had given up their former beliefs. As time went on, A Japanese monk Honen also said that “Places of disputegive rise to polluting thoughts, and so the wise stay far away from such places.” From this perspective one can conclude that the wisdom offered to multicultural harmonious co-existence from Buddhism is not the suppression or conquest,northe compromise that has been the recent trend, but rather  “habitat segregation (sumiwake) of ideas,” where parties can coexist as long as they do not incur harm on one another.

   In the discussion afterwards there were heated questions from participants and audience members about the relationship between Buddhism and Brahmanism and the significance of Buddhism’s evasion of dispute for multicultural harmonious co-existence, making for a worthwhile conference.