Rissho Kosei-kai Celebrates 74th Anniversary
On March 5 Rissho Kosei-kai members celebrated their organization's 74th anniversary. The celebration ceremony in the Great Sacred Hall at the organization's headquarters in Tokyo was attended by some 4,000 members and relayed by satellite TV to all Dharma centers throughout Japan and webcast to Dharma centers overseas.
The ceremony opened with the offerings performed by 16 young women members at the altar before the image of the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni. President-designate Kosho Niwano led the assembly in sutra recitation. After that President Nichiko Niwano read out a pledge of dedication to the Buddha.
Rev. Yasutaka Watanabe, chair of the board of trustees, then addressed the gathering, and President Niwano presented letters of thanks and commemorative gifts to two representatives of 230 leaders and 208 other members who had rendered distinguished service to Rissho Kosei-kai Dharma centers and the organization as a whole.
Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association Congregation of North America (UUA), delivered a congratulatory address. Referring to UUA's relief efforts for the victims of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan, he announced that UUA will contribute for further relief an additional US$60,000 donated from members of UUA congregations all across America. (Last year UUA donated US$120,000 to Rissho Kosei-kai for emergency relief.) He then described UUA's new undertaking for intercultural understanding, in which young congregation members and UUA ministers in training are taking part. He explained the importance of firsthand experience of living in a country with another culture and working side by side with people from different backgrounds. He said, "When we cross cultural borders, we also cross spiritual borders."
In his Dharma talk, President Niwano emphasized the importance of taking refuge in the Three Treasures: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Explaining further the importance of taking refuge in the Dharma, he referred to the account in the Avatamsaka Sutra of a journey by a youth called Sudhana in pursuit of the Dharma. Sudhana sought guidance from 53 teachers, including Buddhist monks. President Niwano then referred to Founder Nikkyo Niwano's dedication to interreligious dialogue, saying that the founder's willingness to learn not only from Buddhism but also from all people in the world embodied the spirit of the One Vehicle. He said that Rissho Kosei-kai's role as a religious organization lies in walking hand in hand with all people on the path to universal liberation.
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