Gakurin’s Founding Spirit
Founder of Rissho Kosei-kai and its Gakurin Seminary
Rev. Nikkyo Niwano
Rissho Kosei-kai is a Buddhist movement for lay men and women practitioners of Buddhism. We strive to apply the teachings of the Buddha to our daily lives, and to work together with others to attain Buddhahood. However, the teachings of Buddhism are truly vast and profound, which was preached and taught by the Buddha throughout his life and passed down to the present day through the tireless efforts of the pioneers of Buddhism, thus it is not something that can be learned with ease. In fact, Saint Nichiren prayed to the Bodhisattva Kokuzo from his childhood, “Please make me the wisest person in Japan,” and devoted himself to Buddhism. I hope that everyone in the Gakurin follow his spirit. In order to learn the great Dharma, it is not enough to simply graduate from the current university. In this sense, we would like to establish the Gakurin that has the characteristics of a graduate school, bringing together dedicated young leaders and outstanding practitioners who have graduated from universities to further their studies in specialized fields such as politics, economics, law, and sociology, while at the same time providing them with thorough training and practice of Buddhism, living and eating together for a certain period of time, in order to master their specialized knowledge and advanced Buddhist practice.
To advance peace in the world, I am convinced that we must not be confined to the narrow confines of our own religion, but must understand each other, work hand in hand, and join forces for the happiness of all humankind through dialogue and cooperation. The founding of the Gakurin Seminary is rooted in the hope that those who are enrolled in the Gakurin study a wide range of world’s religions and other specialized fields, and grow up to be useful not only in the promotion of engaged Buddhism and interreligious cooperation, but also in all aspects of society and the world.
I would like Gakurin seminarians to develop yourselves to serve as leaders in the society, the nation and the world. This commitment to serve is the Bodhisattva mind, and it is only when you walk “two paths of study and practice” based on this commitment that you will be able to live up to these expectations. In order to be called a Gakurin seminarian of excellent character and insight, it is important for you to learn from everything and all encounters as opportunities to cultivate and develop yourselves.
I hope that you lead the future, broaden your horizons and, with ideals of a large scale, acquire the ability to lead people as “pioneers of the Bodhisattva path in body (action), mouth (speech), and mind.” I look forward to seeing you all rise to the occasion.
President of Rissho Kosei-kai
Rev. Nichiko Niwano
On April 8, 1964, the day of Shakyamuni Buddha’s Birth, the inauguration ceremony of Gakurin was held in the Great Sacred Hall, which was about to be officially opened. I was one of the youngest participants and remember listening to the special lecture of Prof. Fumio Masutani, a distinguished Japanese Buddhist scholar of Buddhism. According to a news reporting from that time (“Kosei Shinbun,” April 10, 1964), the Gakurin was born out of Founder Rev. Nikkyo Niwano’s wish to “lay the foundation for the Rissho Kosei-kai’s centennial by discovering and training outstanding youth leaders from all over Japan who have a keen sense of the times. Considering that since its establishment many leaders active not only in Rissho Kosei-kai but also in society and the world have studied at the Gakurin, we are reminded once again of the significant role the Gakurin has played as an institution for the training of leaders working in diverse fields. The Gakurin is unique in that its education and training are provided for limited number of seminarians in order for them to study and practice together, receive direct trainings from great teachers and acquire a wide range of knowledge not only in Buddhism but also in political philosophy, economics, and other fields. This valuable and intense time is a wholistic and integral education, leading to the development of a broad perspective and a spirit of tolerance and compassion that are indispensable in encountering with others and engaging with societies and the world.
Secondly, the Gakurin Seminary has nurtured leaders who are active on the international stage. It is very significant that the Gakurin has produced leaders who are active on the international stage through study abroad and the acceptance of Kaigai-Shuyoka (International Program). In view of the global development of interreligious cooperation for peace, there is no doubt that people who study and practice Buddhism are increasing throughout the world, and I believe that expectations for the Gakurin Seminary will increase even further in the future.
However, in order to meet these expectations, it is necessary for us to constantly reflect on ourselves, to work hard in the two paths of study and practice, and to have the determination and diligence to “cultivate our own mind field.” To cultivate one’s mind field means to know one’s true self, and to realize that one has the same mind as Shakyamuni Buddha and that one has the ability and responsibility to solve the problems of life and the world. In other words, each Gakurin seminarian has already been given the ability and mission to solve the problems of life and the world.
I hope that through your daily efforts and devotion, you will become a Bodhisattva who will illuminate a corner of society and the world by awakening to your true self.