The first Soto Zen Buddhism International Symposium was held on October 4, 2011 with the theme, Advance One Step Further—Soto Zen Opens the Way to the Future. Many people from different parts of the world and Japan participated in the symposium at the Tokyo Grand Hotel. It was organized by the Soto Zen Buddhism International Center, and sponsored by Daihonzan Eiheiji Temple, Daihonzan Sojiji Temple, and the Soto Zen Buddhism Hawaii, North America, South America and Europe offices.
Following the opening address by Rev. Ryubun Kamada (Director of the Education and Dissemination Division) , Rev. Koichi Sasaki (President of Sotoshu Shumucho) officiated at a ceremony to pray for world peace and to commemorate the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
The keynote lecture was given by Associate Professor Noriyuki Ueda of the Graduate School of Tokyo Institute of Technology. He spoke on the future dissemination of Zen Buddhism in the world, relating his thoughts on this subject to his experience in the United States.
Presentations on the international dissemination of Soto Zen Buddhism were given by the directors of the Soto Zen Buddhism Hawaii, North America, South America and Europe Offices. This gave listeners an opportunity to learn about the history of its dissemination in different areas and the present situation regarding its growing spread in the world. Then five panelists—the office directors and Associate Professor Ueda—participated in a panel discussion on the present situation and future of Soto Zen Buddhism. Rev. Issho Fujita (Director of the Soto Zen Buddhism International Center) moderated the discussion.
During closing, an international joint statement was issued under the direction of Rev. Ryubun Kamada. All participants recited this part of the statement aloud: We declare that we will advance one step further in order to make Sotoshu teaching as a lamp for as many people as possible so that it will contribute to the promotion of world peace and the well-being of society.
And in the International Gathering, the participants strengthened relations with one another. The Symposium was very productive.
While the symposium was being held, creatively designed booths set up by the each regional office were open in a separate room. A charity bazaar there sold items donated by temples and Zen centers within each regional offices jurisdiction, attracting the interest of many people. Sales amounted to a total of 245,350 yen, which was donated to the Soto Zen Buddhism Relief Fund.