The Harvard Buddhist Studies Forum has received a grant from Koji Ihara, CEO of the Mind Culture Group of Tokyo, to maintain their lecture series for at least the next six years.
The forum may eventually be able to convert the gift into a permanent endowment, according to Masatoshi Nagatomi, director of the forum and Harvard professor of Buddhist Studies.
Nagatomi would not specify the exact amount of the grant.
The Mind Culture Group is a collection of many separate groups in Japan that share the common goal of "the spiritual training of its employees," Nagatomi said. Ihara is president of the group's largest contingent, the All Japan Buddhist Temple Association.
The grant represents a small but significant step towards world peace, Nagatomi said.
"The Ihara Fund will promote an exchange of views between the United States and Japan that will help us better understand the impact of Buddhism on the environmental movement, human rights, and other global issues," Nagatomi told the Harvard Gazette last week.
According to the agreement by which the Ihara Fund was established, the Forum will assist in organizing up and supervising a nonprofit affiliate organization in Tokyo. This satellite group will sponsor lectures by Forum-affiliated speakers and recommend Japanese speakers to address the Forum in the U.S., the Gazette reported.
Nagatomi said he is hopeful that the fund will facilitate an exchange of scholars between the United States and Japan.
Nagatomi said the gift introduces many exciting possibilities to enhance the Forum's lecture series and to focus more closely on contemporary Buddhist studies.
"We can no longer dwell on the past history of Buddhism," Nagatomi said.
The Harvard Buddhist Studies Forum sponsors twice-monthly lectures in the Phillips Brooks House parlor, featuring speakers from Harvard and other academic institutions.