Loving kindness, compassion, and above all self-awareness: Thai Buddhist leader Sulak Sivaraksa always returns to those themes when he speaks. But there's a steely determination behind his gentle facade and admonitions to pay attention to one's breathing as a first step to self mastery. Sulak accepted the Niwano Peace Prize in Kyoto, Japan, on July 23 in a ceremony that highlighted his life's work, marked over many decades by the courage, determination, imagination, and the inspiration that are the anchors of his Buddhist faith. It was a splendid occasion to celebrate a special leader.
The Niwano Peace Prize has been awarded annually for 28 years, to a leader or organization whose work for peace draws on a religious or spiritual inspiration and a commitment to interfaith action. Established by the Niwano family which leads the lay Buddhist organization, Rissho Kosei-Kai, the winner is selected by an international committee (I am currently the chair). Rather little known in the United States, the Niwano laureates are an impressive group and the aspiration is that this prize be a spiritual equivalent to the Nobel Peace Prize.
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