Prof. Seiji Kumagai Presents at the Fifth Workshop for the 2020 Kyoto Kokoro Initiative
The fifth workshop of the 2020 Kyoto Kokoro Initiative was held at the Inamori Center on January 5th, 2021. The theme for this year’s Kyoto Kokoro Initiative is “Kokoro and the Corona Crisis”. Prof. Seiji Kumagai (Associate Professor, KRC) presented a paper entitled “Considering the COVID-19 Related Crisis from a Buddhist Perspective.” Eight people attended the workshop and 4 people participated through a simultaneous webcast on Zoom.
In the presentation, he first outlined the process in which the concept of kokoro, in the sense of spirituality, developed from the viewpoint of philology centering on Buddhism, showing the potential and significance of understanding the human kokoro beyond cultural barriers. Next, Prof. Kumagai explained the behavior of people who have often been seen as problematic during the recent COVID-19 related crisis, based on the idea of Bonno (earthly desires) in Buddhism. Then, he introduced the case of Hansen’s disease patients who were helped by Eison and Ninsho (Buddhist priests in the 13th century, Kamakura period) and the cases of Bonn (a minority religion in Tibet), indicating the wisdom of Buddhism in learning to live as a “weak person”. In conclusion, Prof. Kumagai suggested that by learning from Buddhism about the wisdom of living and accepting the weakness of self and others would enable people to think about a better way of living in a society facing the COVID-19 related crisis.
In the discussion, the following points were actively discussed: the diversity of Buddhist doctrines in comparison with Buddhism in Japan and other regions, relationships between individuals and society in Buddhist philosophy and its connection to societies impacted by COVID-19, and the relationship between individuals and groups in Japan.