Hi Everyone ... Engaging Civilization. I want to remind everyone that "empathy" is one of the 3 points Sensei mentioned in the Columbia Univ. speech in developing global citizenship --"The compassion to maintain an imaginativeempaty that reaches beyond one's immediate surroundings and extends to those suffereing in distant places." Soka Education, p 101 Stephanie

That is very interesting, Stephanie. I forgot that Sensei had mentioned empathy. Developing empathy is something which modern students seem to be lacking. I wonder if it is because of TV and internet age. It is so easy to post something cruel about a fellow student without having to directly confront them face to face. Maybe there should be a class taught in school about Empathy?! Constance

Yes, Stephanie,I remember those points well because they also appeared in Sensei's 1992 peace proposal. That was the first year of Sophia Group (study group created by Sensei for WD) in Florida. Those of us in the group created an exhibit based on the points, along with Sensei's comments from the peace proposal, and staged it at an international women's preconference in Miami for the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit!! That was the first time I experienced a conference that was conducted in the format of a UN consensus-building event with "rapporteurs" and all. The goal was to come up with proposals to the Earth Summit representing the voices of women from around the world. I'll never forget the strong voices of indigenous women in the general forums. Great comraderie and exchange among women from around the world, who set up exhibits and booths in the central atrium hallways of the conference center. What opportunities have you and Constance had to experience a setting where people from around the world are united in their goals? I think empathy has to start with a vision and experiences for teachers, who in this country often feel under siege, both personally and professionally. This is one of the primary focuses of the Makiguchi Project, right? Terry

I like Constance's class on empathy. It is what I teach with the Earth Charter -- Respect and Care for the Community of Life etc. Stephanie
Constance, please tell us more about the elements of your class on empathy. Terry

Terry - what a wonderful experience. I have been to 2 earth charter conferences and one Asian Civil Society Forum. Yes and the indigenous people are always the most real.Stephanie
Stephanie, I think our forums are a way to do this, and certainly our trip to Brazil next year. In the UN setting, a rapporteur takes notes on all of the ideas, and then a few people blend and finalize the ideas into a proposal. A wiki could work the same way.
Also, I recently met a YWD from Italy who was telling me about the Centro Studi Sereno Regis in Torino (and other locations in Italy), which conducts training in conflict resolution. Told her about our Brazil trip, and that perhaps we can come to Italy next!
As far as our students, I believe we need to find ways to raise funds for international exchange trips for students from a younger age, and also teachers! People to People also provides trips/exchanges for students and educators. I've been getting invitations to go to China for these, but don't have the financial freedom to do so right now! One alternative is the advancing technology that allows students and teachers to interact with people and cultures from around the world via the Internet. Terry

Makiguchi Project -- you mean Makiguchi in Action? Stephanie
Stephanie, yes, I mean the Makiguchi in Action project. Terry

There are some interesting studies that I suspect you have heard about. They indicate that people can feel more empathy for a single person than a group of people. One story resonates better than a story about a country or the planet. If we can help students understand how we are interconnected, they may feel more empathy. David

David, could you please enter a link to this subject? Group dynamics plays an important role in violence; NGOS that work with child soldiers bear witness to this, and also demonstrate ways in which to reestablish human connection for these children, one person at a time. I believe the reconcilation trials in South African offer a similar example, where the people who committed crimes come face to face with the families of victims, speak what they did, and hear directly from those families about the suffering they and their deceased loved ones endured. These are powerful testimonies to the possibility for human accountability and renewal through empathy. Terry

What you and Terry are talking about reminds me of a Dance Mandala Abu and I did at his school. We took ideas from different tribes and put them together in a dance. It definitely deepened their care about one another. Stephanie I am going to attempt to upload some pictures of this. well almost but failed.... Constance, how do you do this? can you do this?

Stephanie, I saw the photos in your email. Thank you! So,did the members of these tribes find similarities in their ideas, or was it a matter of more deeply understanding a different perspective? And how did you explain the idea of a Mandala to everyone involved. Are mandalas used in African ceremony? Terry

Navigation, Teckie Issues

Note - we need to put our names at the end.

Also I think we need to make sure what we say is succinct and shorter rather than longer. and that we separate the questions so people can respond then and there in stead of people needing to go back and forth

Constance, I don't understand how to use the widgets to put color around a new comment so it can be easily identified. Wasn't that the idea? I clicked on the widget icon and went to the choices but couldn't find one that offers colors for comments/responses - only embedding. When I tried embedding, I couldn't type in the box that appeared on the collaborative page! Terry

Hi Terry - the widget is not the place to go to get color and you don't want to use embedding either. See in tech section below. Constance
Remember this site can be translated into most languages...!
Stephanie and Constance, it seems to me that the collaborative page could get really unwieldy if we translate everything on the same page. Perhaps there should be a second collaborative page in Portuguese, to start with, and we can post translations of what we say there, while Michel can translate and post English onto the English page. What do you think? Terry

Global Solidarity :

I call on “The world's people to clearly manifest their will for the outlawing of nuclear weapons and to establish, by the year 2015, the international norm that will serve as the foundation for a Nuclear Weapons Convention(NWC).”

I just started am reading Wikiconomics; How Mas Collaboration Changes Everything -- a great newish (2006) book. It talks about how collaboration is not only reaching global proportions but that many companies are following Linux and others and inviting global collaboration to help bring new ideas into their corporations. So even though last year I thought Sensei incredibly optomistic (!!) now I can see that he has his pulse on the times. We can create such global collaboration. We teachers could actually be incredibly useful in this effort.

What do you think? Stephanie

I think in our small way we are already doing exactly this - collaborating on teaching strategies globally. Stephanie, on a local scale you taught me to think in terms of collaboration within the district. My natural tendency is to "force all people to my will" believing that is the only way for success to occur! I am happy to say that after I learned about the concept of collaboration I always encourage it foremost right after chanting. And not only is collaboration very freeing (because I do not need to spend all my time forcing others to comply) everyone in the group likes collaborating which makes it easier for each idea, goal, etc. to more forward.

However, if we are looking for a Buddhist concept in support of empathy and collaboration I would suggest Dependent Origination - the interconnectivity of all things. Constance


FROM TERRY ELLIS: SORRY CONSTANCE! THIS IS NOT SUCCINCT, but I would like to put out these study ideas in relation to the video. I know (or at least knew) Jeremy: His ideas and activism brought me to D.C. in 1971, and then to begin practicing Buddhism there. Within a year, our lives took different paths, although for the 10 years I lived in the D.C.area, we continued to debate over my decision. He even came to the D.C. community center in early 1971 to question Ted Osaki about the Soka Gakkai and the labor movement in Japan. Actually, it was reading the Dialogue on Life and other writings by Sensei, including his Complete Works, that motivated me to move from basing my life on ideas and political activism I shared in common with Jeremy, and to begin practicing Nichiren Buddhism. But he was instrumental in leading me along a way path of thinking that opened the door to Buddhism.

For that reason, I would like to bring up study points from Dialogue on Life, contribute ideas on how to contextualize Jeremy's book, and suggest how we as Buddhists may contribute to his reasoning, as well as implement these ideas in life and the classroom.

For one, I think that his book points the way for us to help guide our students in understanding the foundations of philosophy and science on the question of what a human being is, and at the same time share insights from Sensei's writings. Despite the very here/now nature of the Wiki video, which is important in today's learning enviroment, Jeremy's ideas in The Empathic Civilization contribute to a long intellectual tradition in regard to human life and human development, especially since Darwin introduced his theory of evolution and social Darwinism took hold. Psychologists, cultural anthropologists, geneticists and biologists, economists and others have reacted in various ways, debating issues of nature versus nurture and from our perspective as SGI Buddhists, karma versus human revolution, enlightenment versus fundamental darkness. Author Erik Erikson, who never earned a college degree, gained his insight from the observation of children. His books and especially his theory of the eight stages of psychosocial development had a big influence on thinking while I was in college, and Jeremy is about the same age. Here's a quote to the point: Arlene Harder, psychotherapist and editor of “The Learning Place,” surveyed the eight stages of psychosocial development, writing, “[Erikson] felt the course of development is determined by the interaction of the body (genetic biological programming), mind (psychological), and cultural (ethos) influences.” Jeremy also thinks this way, but since 1971 there has been a strong shift toward the genetic as science develops bioengineering and more. This clearly can affect concepts of culture, social development and human values. I met a young bio-psychologist last summer who told me his research is showing that you can predict the political bent of a person from his/her genetic makeup. IE: Will this person be a progressive or a conservative? This shift toward the individual and biological does have consequences for how people see a whole human life and their environment. Jeremy was an early opponent to genetic engineering and one of his areas of influence in Europe is in the arena of genetic modification of food crops and animals.

I think it would be great if we had this review of the development of how we think today somehow so that CEIN participants could read this before/during the wiki event.

=How could we do this? Stephanie
Stephanie, Others could add info and resources; there is a tremendous amount of info on the philosophy and science of what is human being and ideas of human development, and this could be a great resource for teachers looking for material to use in the classroom. This is especially given the different age groups of students and diversity of settings that we all work in. We could create our own Wiki on this topic! Terry
By the way, the link in blue above is live and takes you to an brief explanation of the Erikson's 8 stages of development. I think that one way to help students develop empathy is to first understand themselves, and what it means to be a human being. Older students could delve into Erikson's ideas, as well as those of other scholars and authors. Exploring the website, I came across this audio/visual presentation which I find very moving in its simplicity as a parent and teacher.

Transition to a Buddhist perspective: So, it makes sense that biology is confirming the genes that give expression to at least the chemistry of Bodhisattva. But in Dialogue on Life there is a discussion of genes and ku (pg 73-74), as related to the Lotus Sutra's double negations that were at the heart of Toda's realization that Buddha is life. (I believe this is important both in regard to the question of what is a human being and also since Creationism continues to be a issue in US education.) Religious leaders have historically appealed to the human capacity for compassion and self-denial, even when they enforce it with external authority. But we all know that other forces pull in the opposing directions within our own "minds" or hearts, and within society: that was the genius behind Makiguchi's concept of humanitarian competition. Also, we have a concept of non-duality as Buddhists that allows us to accept both good and evil as the essential aspect of life, and therefore we are able to truly see human beings (our students) in a different light, and exercise wisdom in our interactions to create value when our life condition is high!

The other point I believe we need to address as Buddhists so that we are clear about the foundation on which we take action is the relationship between the world of bodhisattva and the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. I would suggest Dialogue on Life, Chapter 7, A Humane Way to Live, which looks at the 10 worlds and the nature of desire.
on page 211 Kawada asks regarding the world of Bodhisattva:
"I wonder, however, what is the source of infinitely abundant vital energy that sustains the Bodhisattvas of the Earth. I know it is found within the depths of human life, but can we say that there exists such an ultimate source of energy, filled with the power of jihi, in the lives of all human beings?

The dialogue continues, and then Pres. Ikeda states on page 216: "Because of their benevolent activities, they are in the state of bodhisattva. They are called Bodhisatvas of the Earth because their compassion is supported by the "earth" of the Buddha nature. Their awakening to their inherent Buddha nature leads them to the source of cosmic life force. They are able to understand all phenomena of life in the universe and the ultimate law underlying them, including everything in the world and society. . .
Kawada asks on pg 218: What can we do to manifest the Buddha nature within the depths of our life? What is the immediate and certain key to manifest Buddhahood?
(Sensei's answer, I believe, helps us understand the foundation for answering that question in terms of our students.)

Ikeda: I do not know if the term "key" is appropriate. Nichiren Daishonin taught that the only way to bring out one's inherent Buddha nature is to "believe." What one believes in is the Mystic Law, which is itself the cosmic life force. According to the Ongi Kuden, all forms of life in the universe, including human life, no matter what state they manifest, are turned toward the Buddha nature. Love, reason, desire and emotional impulse all throb within the depths of our life. The desire for power, as well as evil desire, are also interwoven with these essential parts of our life. There is another impulse - the lofty aspiration for the Buddha nature or Buddhahood - that becomes the most fundamental component of life. It seeks to combine with the cosmic life and to return to the source of life force. The aspiration to manifest Buddhahood exists in a realm even deeper than the desire for existence. Because it lies within the deepest sphere of each individual life, it is hard to perceive. It may be veiled by the evil nature of life. In order to distinguish this impulse from spiritual and other desires, I would like to call it "religious desire." . . . pg 219 Let us end our discussion of the Ten Worlds, concluding that the Buddha nature or Buddhahood is inherent in each human life, and that a truly humane way of life is the life-style of a bodhisattva.

wow brilliant, as usual Terry!! Stephanie
Stephanie, I am always amazed when I read and then reread these dialogues with Sensei. The wisdom and penetrating human insight he manifests never fails to touch me. The longer I practice, the more I appreciate the fortune I have to be born together with him in this lifetime. Terry

So, how can we help our students believe in their Buddha nature? Science continues to advance the reality of the world of bodhissatva. As Buddhists, we can help students see the duality of good and evil in life, while at the same time pointing to this most fundamental drive toward Buddha that the Ongi Kuden says is even deeper than the desire for existence. In this book Sensei also refers to the Geography of Human Life and the importance of interaction with nature in seeking out our own Buddha nature; and the relationship of nijo and nuclear weapons. (pg 200-201)
End of post by Terry Ellis

I have made these comments in two different formats to play around with ways to differientiate between commenter and responder. Constance can we also have color? Stephanie




week one: Terry comments: send the video/articles/framework or outline of topics. (see discussion of strategy/tactics below.) Ask for suggestions/additions.Ask everyone to go to the wiki and familiarize themselves with the edit/save function. Do this by email and also by notification from the Wiki, if that's possible. end of post Terry

week two: Terry comments: send out the global solidarity point from Sensei, and then begin discussion. People may comment within the framework or open their own area of comments or addition of material at any time. Constance/Stephanie, will you keep track to merge areas of common interest where they apply, so that we continue to build toward a document we can use effectively in the third week? Reminders by email to check update, or encourage those who join to sign up for notification. It's easy! End post by Terry

week three - strategize on how to do this.... break in to groups? Terry comments: I think groups is a good idea if we have enough people. This could also be helpful to keep movement in each topic area by adding questions or sending out emails. End post by Terry

week four - create a strategy together Terry comments. What is the strategy we are looking? Will this be divided down by age group of student? Preschool. Elementary. Secondary.College/University. And specifically, we are looking for strategies for teaching that build awareness/motivation toward nuclear disarmament.
Building blocks (tactics) in this strategy including building empathy. Suggested approaches include beginning with the question of what it means to be human and strengthening our own effectiveness and compassion as teachers by looking at how we can encourage students to believe they have a Buddha nature, without calling it that. Also, to move toward appreciation for their own life and the lives of others through considering in terms of science and philosophy ideas that approach the Buddhist wisdom of dependent origination. End post by Terry