Media = Art + Message No.14: “Co-existing & Co-creating across Time and Space”—about our collective need to seek a guiding light based on Kegon philosophy

On 25th February 2024, a lecture and film-screening event, in commemoration of 45 years China-Japan Peace and Friendship Treaty, was held in Tokyo’s Hibiya Library and Museum. Entitled “Co-existing & Co-creating across Time and Space”, it was successfully hosted by the JACCCO (Japan Asian Community Culture Cooperation Organization) with the able support of a diverse roster of participants.

After an opening greeting from former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda (Chair of JACCCO), the main theme of Kegon (Huayan) Buddhist philosophy was discussed by Zen Master Nanrei Yokota (Engaku-ji Temple in Kamakura), followed by my lecture and short-film about Todai-ji Temple’s Great Buddha (Nara) and Kegon Thought—I was able to summarise the past 20 years of my involvement with these themes.

Lecture & screening event: Co-existing & Co-creating across Time and Space (Hibiya Library & Museum, 25th Feb 2024/Photo: JACCCO)

Iconography of cosmic light as enlightenment

All things in the cosmos are inextricably interrelated—pratitya-samuputpada(immense knowledge of dependence of originating)—the essence of Kegon philosophy lies in the unity and cohesion of everyone and everything in the universe.

The flora and fauna; pebbles and planets; from the atom to the solar system; humankind and the world; the universe and the individual:indeed all is one and one is all.

Image: NASA

A dandelion spore—enlarged model showing its interconnected molecules
Image: Anna Chesnokova/iStock by Getty Images

The Buddha (literally: the enlightened one) is the Great Buddha itself; each of the lotus petals of its pedestal is engraved with a magnificent cosmic image of Buddha conceived 2500 years ago.

World of Lotus Sanctuary (Pedestal of Great Buddha Statue)
National Treasure of Japan, Mid 8th century
Hall of Great Buddha/ Tōdai-ji Temple, Nara

My presentation illustrated the drama of self-transformation through meditation and the wisdom that leads to a veritable cosmology embodied by the Great Buddha statue of Tōdai-ji Temple.

Cinepoetry: Great Buddha Lives! presented at the commemorative event of the 1300th anniversary of Heijō-kyō, Nara (Great Buddha statue of Tōdai-ji Temple Photo by Miro Ito)

Living in an age of tremendous turmoil

There was also a panel discussion with Zen Master Nanrei and myself, as well as Yuji Miyamoto, former Japanese Ambassador to China and Director of JACCCO, and Kiyoyuki Seguchi, Board Member of JACCCO—about our collective need to seek a guiding light based on Kegon philosophy—amidst the ongoing tremendous turmoil in the world today. All participants unanimously agreed on the importance of not straying from the path.

It was a meaningful forum for exchanging opinions from a variety of viewpoints such as religions, philosophy, politics and diplomacy.

Spring board to the next 20 years

To date, exhibitions and screenings of my work related to Todai-ji and the Great Buddha have been held around the world, including at United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, the National Museum of World Cultures in Mexico City as well as the Byzantine & Christian Museum in Athens. Continuing this trajectory, the event last Sunday in Tokyo marked a new starting point for me for the next 20 years.

Speaking engagement at “Road of Light and Hope” exhibition by Miro Ito, the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 2016 (from L to R) Miro Ito, Japanese Ambassador Shinsuke Shimizu and Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland (Secretary General, Council of Europe [at the time])

Indeed we have been planning to make a film on Kegon philosophy to promote global solidarity for a long time. Beginning this year, we would like to proceed to realise it.

We thank you for your interest and look forward to working with you.

Miro Ito

Media Art League/Japanese Authentic Heritage Initiative

Text and Images (C) Miro Ito/Media Art League. All Rights Reserved.




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