Rissho Kosei-kai of Bangladesh Welcomes President-designate Niwano at Youth Conference
Rissho Kosei-kai of Bangladesh held its third Youth Conference on February 2 at a soccer stadium in the southern state of Cox's Bazar. Hosted by the Youth Group of Rissho Kosei-kai of Bangladesh, the conference aimed to disseminate the teachings of the Lotus Sutra and make "Dharma friends" in Bangladesh. Some 13,230 members from dissemination centers across the country welcomed President-designate Kosho Niwano from the Buddhist organization's Tokyo headquarters. Also present were Rev. Waichiro Izumita, director of the Youth Department, and Rev. Kotaro Suzuki, director of Rissho Kosei-kai International.
The conference began with folk songs and dances performed by young members of Rakhine, a minority ethnic group originally from Burma. After that, 16 members from Tokyo reported on the results of the Arms Down! Campaign for Shared Security, organized by the Global Youth Network of the World Conference of Religions for Peace. The campaign collected signatures worldwide to a petition calling on nations of the world to divert at least 10 percent of their military expenditure to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The members from Tokyo then performed the ika odori (squid dance), celebrating specialty goods of Hokkaido.
The first session of the conference also included greetings by four members of the Bangladesh Parliament, including its deputy leader, Ms. Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury. She told the gathering that labor has supreme value and praised Rissho Kosei-kai's contributions to human happiness and welfare.
At the second session, one member testified to the faith, and in his greetings Rev. Izumita encouraged young people to perform bodhisattva work to help the people around them. Then President-designate Kosho Niwano offered guidance, emphasizing that everyone is endowed with the buddha-nature, or potential for buddhahood, and that this understanding influences people's attitude to how they lead their lives . She went on to describe the merits of faith in the Lotus Sutra. She explained that human conflict is based on self-centeredness, and that this can be overcome only by serving other people, doing bodhisattva work. She described the practices of donation of the Six Perfections and of revering other people's buddha-nature, which includes recognizing and respecting their good points. In conclusion, she said Founder Nikkyo Niwano had taught her by the example of his life that suffering does not prevent happiness but understanding the causes of suffering can point the way to happiness.
After the inauguration of Rissho Kosei-kai of Bangladesh in 2008, its Youth Group set up a three-year program of religious studies, including hoza sessions and training in religious guidance, and held the first two Youth Conferences in 2009 and 2010. Most Bangladeshis are Muslims, and it is said that 1 percent of the population are Theravada Buddhists, who follow lineages from Burma and Thailand. As a minority, Rissho Kosei-kai members in Bangladesh are especially fervent in their chanting of the sutra and applying the teachings in daily life. They have become the driving force for Rissho Kosei-kai's rapid growth in the country.
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