It is my great honour and privilege to welcome you all to the Fumon Hall here at the headquarters of Rissho Kosei-kai.
Especially as this is the first public ceremony outside the historic Guildhall in London where this ceremony has taken place since 1973.
My personal welcome also to Sir John Templeton who founded this prestigious award and who is here on the platform with Lady Templeton.
My personal welcome also to Mr. Takeo Fukuda, the former Prime Minister and our Chairman for today.
And a special welcome to Professor Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker who is one of the joint recipients of the 1989 Templeton Prize and to Mr. Maxwell MacLeod who represents his father the Very Reverend Lord MacLeod, the other joint recipient.
I recently had the opportunity of talking with Mr Russell L. Schweickart, an astronaut who embarked on the Ninth Apollo. Mr Schweickart, through his experience of seeing earth from space, said to me: “This planet is a life body, and I have vividly realised that we are related to each other as part of this life body, and we have a relationship of mutual dependence. Consequently I have changed my sense of values.”
Mr. Schweickart also told me: “I have clearly realised that if we think of our own security without reflecting on others’ security, and if we do everything we could to consider our own economic stabilisation with without considering others’ economic stabilisation, such selfish ideas have no meaning. I have felt that my life has continued as part of life from past to future, and it is pulled toward the direction of the future by this great current. I had the feeling of an encounter with the future.” Through talking with him, I have again reflected in my mind that if everyone does not have a personal consciousness such as this, and if all people of the world do not change their present consciousness, then there will be no future for human beings. When I give thought to this matter, I must say that now the role of religion is very important.
As you know, the Templeton Prize was founded by Sir John to honour meritorious achievements of persons who have inspired the fields of religion with new ideas and have continued their creative and vital activities with the aim of fulfilling the duties of religionists in these modern days, namely, leading human minds to peace and helping science and other fields carry out their mission.
I also had the honour of being chosen as a recipient of this distinguished Prize in 1979. At that time I interpreted the awarding of the Prize to me as encouragement from God and the Buddha to continue on the path I have followed thus far.
One reason that I received the Prize, was for my endeavour of promoting the World Conference on Religion and Peace. I humbly think that this has been nothing else than the award to the persons who have had common purpose and have made much efforts for the last ten years. Another reason that I won the Prize was for the fact that I have set a good example to others that ‘religion is itself life’ or ‘life is itself religion’. Today many representative members of Rissho Kosei-kai participated in this ceremony, and I thank them that their assiduous practice of the Buddha’s teachings have greatly contributed to my acceptance of the Prize.
Believing that however steep our path may be or however slowly our pace may be, God and the Buddha surely give encouragement to us concerning the right direction we are going, we have so far continued to go ahead by summoning our courage. Now, ten years since the awarding of the Templeton Prize to me, we are able to welcome you in this Fumon Hall of Rissho Kosei-kai.
The word ‘Fumon’ means that we open the door to all people who are aiming at the path of the truth, even if there are some differences in their ideas and directions. When I was invited as a guest to the last session of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, and I had a special audience with Pope Paul VI, he told me: “For the sake of contribution to human beings by people of religion, they have no choice but to cooperate with one another for walking on the path of peace.”
Japanese Shinto regards mountains, rivers, grasses, and trees as the dwelling place of gods, and its believers worship and revere myriads of gods and deities. The teaching of Mahayana Buddhism has flourished in the background of this religious mind from ancient japan, and it has established the idea that ‘grasses, trees and lands all attain Buddhahood.’ It is no exaggeration to say that at the bottom of Japanese religions there is such an idea that they can receive various kinds of other religions and co-operate with one another by transcending the difference of each denomination.
I am very happy to welcome you in this Fumon Hall, sharing the joy with the joint recipients of the 1989 Templeton Prize, and having the opportunity of again keeping the mission of religionists in our memory. In this sense, I wish to conclude my speech of welcome by expressing my heartfelt thanks to all of you.
Thank you very much.