Letter from the Chair, Board of Trustees Rev. Yasutaka Watanabe
Official Statement of Praying for a
to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Israeli-Palestinian relations have deteriorated to a precarious level. Many nations and many organizations, including the UN Security Council, have called upon both sides to immediately cease military operations, but the hostilities show no sign of ending.
Rissho Kosei-kai has expressed its concern about the Israeli-Palestinian problem through its participation in Religions for Peace (WCRP) and other peace organizations, while also promoting exchange and dialogue among religious leaders in the Middle East.
Rissho Kosei-kai is also continuing to lend support to people in the area who are dedicated to the peace process and provide humanitarian aid to children in harm's way through such activities as the Donate-A-Meal Program, the Niwano Peace Foundation, and the A Little Bags of Dream Campaign. As a result, people on both sides of the conflict are coming to see that coexistence is actually what they most strongly desire, and this gives us the impression that conflict resolution is a very real possibility.
The military operations now in progress, which threaten to dash the hopes of these people, must have come about through political rivalries and a host of delusions. We express our heartfelt condolences to the victims of the conflict, while praying fervently that the violence end and a way is found to bring about a resolution through dialogue. The twentieth century has been called "the century of warfare." People around the world have earnestly vowed to make the twenty-first century "the century of coexistence."
However, at this very moment, fighting continues in many countries and areas of our world - not only between Israel and Palestine, but in several parts of Africa, and in Afghanistan, Tibet, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Iraq. We are still unable to shake off the "legacy of defeat" of the previous century. Regarding this state of affairs, we must put the question to ourselves: Has there been any substantial change in the human heart and in human behavior?
Buddhism teaches us the spirit of the One Vehicle: since we human beings are all fellow passengers on the same one vehicle, we should be broad-minded and accepting of one another, and work together. Buddhism also teaches us the "mind aspiring to peace" which means that when we are aware that our own lives are wondrous, something to be grateful for and revere, we in turn must revere the life of all existence.
In order to aspire to peace, we must overcome the anger and resentment in our hearts and cultivate love, compassion, and consideration for others; I believe that only then will human beings be able to truly live together in harmony.
From a religious perspective, the world's problems are our own problems. Regarding a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, Rissho Kosei-kai, as a member of Religions for Peace, will continue to work hand in hand with the world's religious leaders. At the same time, each and every one of us must deeply reflect on whether the seeds of conflict do not lie buried in our own hearts, and be diligent about becoming true "people of peace."
Indeed, the heartfelt prayer of members of Rissho Kosei-kai is that conflict disappear from every region of the world immediately and that the light of hope reach people discouraged by grief and despair.
Rev. Yasutaka Watanabe
Chair, Board of Trustees