A Culture of Awakening: How Buddhism can provide an inclusive path to national and global co-existence

The New International Engaged Buddhism Study Group

2019 Spring Series

June 26 (Wed.) 18:30-21:00


Guest: Harsha Navaratne

Chairman of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB)

Chairman of the Sewalanka Foundation, Sri Lanka

The recent church bombings in Sri Lanka and mosque shootings in New Zealand are yet another new set of examples of global, ethnic and religious conflict. But what are the driving forces behind these attacks and the larger global conflict? Are we truly entering the age of the Clash of Civilizations? Looking more deeply, we see complex fissures, such as disconnect in the Sri Lankan Muslim communities between new forms of fundamentalist Islam entering the nation and older, indigenized Muslim communities that co-existed with other religious groups for centuries. Within the Buddhist world as well, there is conflict between the new faces of Buddhist ethnic fundamentalism, such as in Myanmar, and major strands of an ecumenical, international Buddhism that promotes meditation, non-violent lifestyles, and social justice for all.

What is Japan’s role in these issues as both an important international political and economic power and a country that has been seen as predominantly Buddhist? Japan is also not without its own internal struggles: principally between a traditional conservatism that emphasizes Japanese exceptionalism and new forms of progressive culture emerging out of the economic and community decline of the last 30 years. Amidst this situation, what is the role of Japanese Buddhism in addressing these national and international fissures? Will it continue to be socially withdrawn and tacitly support Japan’s conservative legacy or will it seek to update itself and contribute to the growing international movement for social justice and climate justice?

Today’s special guest speaker, Harsha Navaratne, has been engaging his whole life with these issues in native Sri Lanka, specifically remolding the Sinhala Buddhist movement against British colonialism that became an ethnic chauvinist movement against Hindu Tamils in a long and traumatic civil war. In his role as the Chairman of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), he has also been active in regional and international dialogues for realizing a Culture of Awakening among all religions and peoples. The Clash of Civilizations is not inevitable. As Buddhists, a Culture of Awakening is daily practice for the benefit of ourselves and others, indivisibly.


18:30 Talk by Harsha Navaratne

19:30 Open conversation

20:30 ending

Entrance Fee: none


Jonathan Watts: ogigaya[at]gmail.com

Location: Shinko-in Temple

1-1-5 Higashi Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0044

Tel: 03-3583-4766

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