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A Speech on the Occasion of the Investiture of Dr. Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, as an Honorary Doctor of Reitaku University,

Osamu Nakayama, Ph.D. Reitaku University

November 19, 2018

     It is with the utmost pleasure and a sense of the deepest honor that we gather here today at Reitaku University to celebrate the investiture of Dr. Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, as an honorary doctor of this university. On its behalf, may I express our sincerest gratitude to every one present here today whose kind agreement to attend this ceremony we greatly appreciate.

     Our university’s regulations on the award of an honorary doctorate state that “honorary doctoral degrees are to be conferred on individuals who have made distinguished contributions to the advancement of learning and culture, to the development of nations and societies, and to the realization of human security, peace and happiness, in accordance with the founding spirit of our university.” In pursuance of this statute, I should report to those gathered here today that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was nominated as a world leader most worthy of our honorary doctoral degree by the nomination committee on the 12th of October, 2018. This nomination was approved by a unanimous vote of our Graduate School Committee and Joint Council, and the final decision to confirm the award was taken by myself as the President of Reitaku University. Please allow me to explain the reasons for my decision in this matter.

     In the first place, I was keenly aware that the founding spirit of our University is based on Moralogy, the science of integrated human studies established by Chikuro Hiroike, the founder of our university. In the process of creating Moralogy, he made a comparative study of supreme morality, as practiced by the world sages, including the Buddha, and the practice of conventional morality by ordinary people. His goal was to prove the effects of such practices by employing a scientific approach that aimed at universality, and thereby to advance world peace and promote the happiness of all human beings. He discovered that there was complete causal accord between divine revelations, the varied experiences of many ordinary people, and the beliefs held by the world sages, the founders of religions and other great individuals. Given these findings, he became convinced that all religious teachings and all philosophical and scientific principles are partial manifestations of the truth of the universe.

     This way of thinking about morality, ethics and spirituality is entirely consonant with Buddhist philosophy and the ethical thought of His Holiness, who has done so much to promote dialogue between science and religion. In his 1989 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, His Holiness mentioned how “with the ever-growing impact of science on our lives, religion and spirituality have a greater role to play in reminding us of our humanity. There is no contradiction between the two. Each gives us valuable insights into the other. Both science and the teaching of the Buddha tell us of the fundamental unity of all things… I believe all religions pursue the same goals, that of cultivating human goodness and bringing happiness to all human beings.” Chikuro Hiroike similarly believed in the fundamental complementarity of science and the supreme morality practiced by the Buddha, one of the five sages.

     Secondly, I noted that while Chikuro Hiroike proclaimed that the morality practiced by the world sages should become a universal standard, he never denied the significance of the religious faith of individuals. Far from decrying freedom and diversity of belief, he urged us to make our religious faith rational, enhance our individual characters, and increase our sum of happiness by incorporating morality of the high quality into that faith. In similar vein, His Holiness wrote in his book, Hurt Japanese, published in 2012, that a religion to our taste is “the best religion” for us. Here he made full allowance for the diversity of religious faith, as well as recognizing that religion has great power to illuminate our souls as we offer our prayers for world peace. In the same work, he also asserted the necessity of ethics as a universal standard for non-religious people. So both Chikuro Hiroike and His Holiness the Dalai Lama share a conspicuous concern for universal standards in morality and ethics.

     Thirdly, I considered the matter of educational ideals. At Reitaku, our ideal of education can be summarized in the words of the first president of our university, Chibusa Hiroike, who asserted that “the supreme ideal of education is to implant the spirit of benevolence in the human mind, and that learning in higher education can only radiate brilliance by implanting this spirit of benevolence in our teaching of contemporary science and knowledge. Generally speaking, the crimes and vices of those who are poor in knowledge are not so harmful in terms of their serious effects. But the evils of those who have undergone higher education or obtained social eminence exert a much greater negative influence on society. Thus the more highly one is educated, the greater is the moral integrity that needs to be implanted in one.” This accords completely with the educational ideals of His Holiness. In the work already mentioned, he points out that education must have love and benevolence at its core. Without this, one may be predisposed to punish or torment others in one’s heart, and this disqualifies one from teaching others. Although he is specifically referring to the training of children here, I firmly believe that this should be the basic principle at all stages of education, including the tertiary sector.

     Lastly, I was conscious of the fact that His Holiness, in his visits to more than 50 countries, has always stressed the importance of peace, non-violence, and mutual understanding between different religions, and has highlighted our universal responsibility to care from the world and address its problems. He is the recipient of many awards, including honorary doctoral degrees from 23 universities across the globe. Here in Japan, though, Reitaku University is privileged to be the first such institution to confer a degree of this kind on His Holiness. His great concern for world peace and human happiness, his deep understanding of the workings of the spirit of benevolence and love, and his grasp of the need for dialogue between science and religion are all in complete harmony with the founding spirit of our University.

 

     These are among the reasons why we are delighted and honoured to have this rare opportunity to confer an honorary doctoral degree on His Holiness the Dalai Lama today. We sincerely hope that it will mark the start of a lasting dialogue between our university and His Holiness, one that will be characterized by an openness of mind to mind, of heart to heart, and of soul to soul. From the depths of our being, we wish him the best of health and continued success in all his endeavours.  Thank you very much for your kind attention.