Season 3: Ep. 14-15 Courage, Wisdom, and Compassion with Olivier Urbain
This is a two-episode series exploring the legacies of Galtung, Toda, Makiguchi, Ikeda and the practice of dialogue through interconnectedness, and a human revolution of courage, wisdom, and compassion. Exploring Galtung’s triangle of violence, we come to an understanding of direct, structural, and cultural violence.’ Finally, we explore the Min-On Music Research Institute and Concert Association and the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue examining dialogue and musical peacebuilding, where we seek to bring out the best in each other.
Together with Olivier Urbain, Kevin Maher, and Anri Tanabe, we explore how this is lived out at the Min-on-Min Concert Association and the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning and Dialogue.
Key words: Courage, wisdom, compassion, Daisaku Ikeda, Toda, Makiguchi, Peacebuilding, Johan Galtung, Galtung triangle of violence, empathy, conflict transformation, dialogue, inner transformation, human revolution
Born in 1961 in Tournai, Belgium, Oliver Urbain obtained academic degrees in Belgium, the US and the UK with PhDs in Literature at USC and Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. Olivier Urbain is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Peace Research Association Foundation and is the founder (2002) and former convener (2002-2008) of the Art & Peace Commission of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA). He currently serves as the director of the Min-On Research Institute, and as adjunct lecturer at Soka University Japan at the Graduate School of International Peace Studies and is a Visiting Research Professor at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland.
Of his research interests, he focuses on preventive peacebuilding and on how people can avoid and prevent violence at all levels. As a founding scholar of studies of music and peacebuilding, Olivier Urbain was the editor of the seminal book, Music and Conflict Transformation: Harmonies and Dissonances in Geopolitics published by Tauris press. Today he explores the potential of musicking to enhance conviviality and social skills in Japanese high schools and other institutions.
Urbain talks about his time with Ikeda and finding the “transcend point” to build spaces where mutual gain is possible. How have you experienced moments when win-lose or lose-lose situations become moments of mutual gain? How is bringing out the best in others connected to mutual gain?
Using Galtung’s conflict triangle, describe the interconnected natures of direct, structural, and cultural violence? How did these forms of violence play out in Makiguchi, Toda, and Ikeda’s story?
Galtung writes “Peace is life . . . something needs to be left unresolved” when making comparisons to music. How is our search for “quick resolution” sometimes opposite the aims of building lasting communities of peace? What role does good dialogue play in leaving elements unresolved?
Laurence argues that empathy is a contextual characteristic and that we must be careful of contexts where our sense of self gets swept up in the arousal of a group. How do we build contexts for compassionate empathy? How do we build and maintain an awareness of the balance between “I” and the “we”?
Describe value creation as described by Urbain and Frankl.
The 1925 Peace Preservation Law is an example of how the language of peace can sometimes be used in the service of war and oppression. Where have you noticed language of peace or conformity being used to maintain forms of power?
Within the practice of dialogue, what does it mean to bring out the best in the Other?
Describe the interplay of courage, wisdom, and compassion in peace work and the practice of dialogue.
The second part of this journey looks at interconnectedness as a “web of life” that requires faculties of imagination. How do our imaginations and practices of interconnectedness empower richer dialogue, greater care, and more sustainable peace?
Urbain notes that our interconnectedness does not have a center and that every individual is at the center of interconnectedness. How does this imagination of non-centric interconnectedness matter when we are attempting to build dialogues that de-center ourselves and open space for others?
Urbain writes that dialogue allows “people’s common humanity [to] shine despite – or rather through – differences in backgrounds, lifestyles and world-views.” How does difference enrich our lives and our dialogues with each other?
Maher and Tanabe talk about the practice of dialogue at the Ikeda Center and a yearning for dialogue about loneliness. What contributes to sensitivities of loneliness in our modern world? How might dialogue and our relational spaces repair an “epidemic of loneliness”?
Geoffrey Cohen notes that belonging is being constructed anew in every situation. How do dialogic intentions to bring out the best in each Other contribute to contexts of belonging?
Urbain notes that music is ambivalent, not universal, and music can be used for good and for evil. How does a sensitivity to music’s role contribute to practices of musical peacebuilding?
Ikeda writes, “Words spoken from the heart have the power to change a person’s life. They can even melt the icy walls of mistrust that separate peoples and nations.” What does a practice of “words spoken from the heart” look like within your day-to-day being?
Chapters EP 14
2:18 Olivier Urbain
3:55 Encountering Galtung
7:44 Galtung and Ikeda
9:16 Time with Galtung
13:38 Galtung’s Chapter
14:01 Far Away [music]
15:18 Music and Conflict Transformation
21:36 Toda and Makiguchi
25:30 Value Creation and Frankl
25:59 Frankl Quote
26:44 Ukrainian Meaning Making
28:23 Toda and the Lotus Sutra
29:49 Awakenings to Life
31:06 Toda and SGI
31:34 Daisaku Ikeda’s Life
35:59 Shinozaki Fuminori Violin
Chapters EP 15
2:29 Inner Transformation and Human Revolution
6:10 Interconnected Wisdom
8:30 Courage to Embrace Difference
12:00 We are the Future
13:43 Bringing Out the Best
16:17 Dialogue and the Ikeda Center
17:39 Bringing Out the Best pt 2
18:26 Ikeda Center Dialogue
21:23 Dialogue Intentions
22:44 Scholarship of Dialogue
23:57 Courage, Wisdom, Compassion in Dialogue
26:56 Pressing Concerns for Youth
28:30 Loneliness and Belonging
30:02 Belonging - Jeffrey Cohen
30:42 What Music Can Do for Peace
33:34 Music and Peace
36:30 Min-on Music Technologies
38:10 Online Hub and La Scala
40:50 Interconnectedness Without a Center
42:03 Jason Goulah and hope/joy in education
44:31 Imaginations of Connectedness
Cohen, G. L. (2022). Belonging: The science of creating connection and bridging divides. W. W. Norton & Company.
Frankl, V. E. (1984). Man’s search for meaning. Simon & Schuster.
Galtung, J. (1996). Peace by Peaceful Means: Peace and Conflict, Development and Civilization. Sage Publications.
Galtung, J. (2015). Peace, music and the arts: In search of interconnections. In Olivier Urbain (Ed.), Music and conflict transformation (pp. 53-62). I.B. Tauris Press.
Laurence, F. (2015). Music and empathy. In Olivier Urbain (Ed.), Music and conflict transformation (pp. 13-25). I.B. Tauris Press.
Nuñez, I., & Goulah, J. (Eds.) (2021). Hope and Joy in Education: Engaging Daisaku Ikeda Across Curriculum and Context. Teachers College Press. (Available from the Ikeda Center)
Urbain, O. (2016). A statement of values for our research on music in peacebuilding: A synthesis of Galtung and Ikeda’s peace theories. Journal of Peace Education, 13(3), 218-237. doi: 10.1080/17400201.2016.1256942
Urbain, O. (2012). Daisaku Ikeda’s Philosophy of Peace: Dialogue, transformation and global citizenship. I.B. Tauris.
Min-on Research Institute
Min-on Concert Association: https://www.min-on.org/
Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue: https://www.ikedacenter.org/content/welcome
We are the Future
Transcript Part 1
toda, peace, peacebuilding, music, ikeda, people, violence, japan, book, life, structural violence, conflict, frankl, established, min, elder brother, olivier, students, called, dialogue
Olivier Urbain, Kevin Shorner-Johnson
Olivier Urbain 00:00
the interconnectedness of all human beings and all living beings doesn't really have a center. The centers are everywhere. Everybody is the center of the entire interconnectedness of the world. Which means your history, your village, your town, your music, your background is the most important thing that we need to preserve and honor.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 00:25
You are listening to season three of the music and peacebuilding podcast, a professional development network at music peacebuilding.com Exploring intersections of peacebuilding, sacredness, community, creativity and imagination through research and story.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 00:44
This is a two episode series exploring dialogue and a Human Revolution of courage, wisdom and compassion. In this first episode, we explore the legacy of Galtung Ikeda and Olivia Urbain's groundbreaking work and music and peacebuilding. Born in 1961 and Tournay, Belgium, Dr. Olivier Urbain obtained academic degrees in Belgium, the US and the UK, with PhDs and literature at USC and Peace Studies at the University of Bradford Olivier Urbain, is on the board of directors of the International Peace Research Association Foundation, and is the founder and former convener of the arts and Peace Commission of the International Peace Research Association. He currently serves as the Director of the Min on Research Institute, and as adjunct lecturer at Soka University Japan, at the Graduate School of International Peace Studies. And as a visiting research professor at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland. As a founding scholar who I have long admired Urbain focuses on preventive peacebuilding and violence prevention at all levels. Today, he explores the potential of musicking to enhance conviviality and social skills in Japanese high schools and other institutions and settings. I first asked Dr. Urbain about his role at the Min on Research Institute, and concert association.
So I'm the Director of a Music Research Institute, called the Min on Music Research Institute in Japan. And it's pretty unique because it doesn't come from a university, it comes from a concert association. So Min on was established in 1963. As a concert Association, they organize lots of concerts invite people from all over the world to perform in Japan. They also have a music museum with fantastic collections of pianos and many other instruments. And they also organize a conductors' competition, and many of those conductors then start a new career worldwide, from from there. And after 50 years of organizing concerts with the goal and intent of getting people to know each other better to get along better, you know, across nationalities, across continents. They thought, what what else can we do after 50 years? And why not establish a research institute? So that was in 2014. And so Min on means the music of the people. And it's kind of a flexible translation, but it could be music of the people, by the people and for the people.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 03:55
Yeah, I want to journey back to this moment when you start to become a peace studies scholar. So as I read your book, I understand that you were teaching modern languages, Soka, and then you had this moment that seems to be inspired by your wife, where you encountered Galtung and always changed. So if we talk about transformation, I want to know about this moment of your transformation. And what led you to be a peace studies scholar.
Oh, yes, that's a wonderful question. So I moved to Japan in 1991, and started to teach French English modern languages. And then in 1996, a guest was invited to teach on campus for two months, because Soka University has, always has lots of guests coming to campus. And that time, it was Johan Galtung, one of one of the founders of peace studies. And I was very busy establishing programs for students. So I didn't really have time to pay attention. But my my wife was asked was invited to translate for him for two months. So here is, you know, one of the founders of peace studies sharing very, very complicated theories in English. And then in front of you, you have 1300 students, Japanese students, who don't understand what he's saying. And my wife was in charge of translating everything. So so I thought the least I can do is to at least attend the very first class to support her. So I did attend, and after half an hour, I was hooked. I found it absolutely fascinating. The very first lesson if you want, I attended Galtung started to make little graphs on the board. And showing that when people are in conflict, there are five different types of outcomes. And one can win the other one can lose that one outcome, but both can decide to lose. That's, for example, war, nobody wins in a war at the end. It's a lose lose outcome. You can compromise. Like, you know, you get half what you want, the others get half what they want. So far, so good. And then he showed what he calls the Transcend point, the Transcend point is almost impossible to explain. But it's a point where you get everything you wanted from, you know, trying to solve the conflict, but the other parties to both win, it's like a complete win win. Now, of course, it sounds impossible. But it's an ideal point, kind of a lighthouse, where you believe it's going to happen, that it's possible for me to get everything in for you to get everything. And of course, the only way to get there is really extensive and intense dialogues to reframe what you want to understand what your wants, etc, etc. I'm not going to reproduce the whole half hour. But I thought, Oh, we can actually think about peace and peacebuilding in a scientific way. And use graphs and math, which, you know, as a White, Western European, that was really the only thing I could do at the time. So I went to see him in his office, and basically I became a private student for about 10 years.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 07:44
Galtung transformed peace studies with new conceptual models of violence and peace, Gatung's conflict, triangle modeled the origins and interconnected types of violence as direct violence, structural violence, and cultural violence. In his book, Urbain cites a profound dialogue between Ikeda and Galtung, where he gently asked I'll tone about connections between personal history and the origins of peace work. Ikeda: I have heard that seeing your beloved father, Dr. August Galtung, a former Deputy Mayor of Oslo and a physician taken away to a concentration camp by the Nazis when you were only 13 years old, motivated you to devote yourself to humanitarianism and peace. Galtung: my motivations were twofold. On the private level, I was influenced by the violent madness that afflicted Norway in general, and our own small family in particular, during World War Two. I wanted to find out how all that horror might have been avoided, how the karma of all Europe might have been improved and in honest personal terms, how we could have kept father at home with us
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 09:16
so 10 years with like the founder of peace studies, I haven't had an opportunity to talk with somebody who's known Galtung so you know, as I came into contact with Galtung I, you know, I came into contact with the triangle. And I think the aha moment for me there was I think the way in which he spoke about the the importance of peace culture setting up but yeah, so what, what rubbed off on you from all that time you spent with Galtung? Like what are some of the ways in which that time has affected you the deepest?
Olivier Urbain 09:53
Yes, you mentioned triangles. I love triangles anyway, and Galtung has lots of them that helped me and I think has helped lots of people to flesh out what's going on, for example, the DSC triangle the the direct structural cultural violence. So, for Galtung, and I think for most people today, we understand that conflicts, disagreement, that's not the problem. Because life is complicated. And we cannot all want the same thing. At the same time, in perfect harmony, that's not realistic. So we have conflict in our lives. But how do we handle them? With or without violence? That's that's the real question. So the problem of peace building is violence, not conflict. And so that was already a revelation at the time. But in addition, when we see people getting killed, people getting bombed, people are getting tortured, that we want to stop that, but it's only the tip of the iceberg. It's called direct violence, we can see it, we can feel it, it's horrible. We want to stop it. But there is a huge iceberg underneath. And Galtung calls it structural violence, which is one of his greatest discoveries, if you want, I mean, it's always been there. So it's not a discovery, but he put a label on it. And that's all the injustice that people have to endure, because of bad laws, bad traditions, structures that are inadequate, invisible power structures that make it that you know, a woman works 20 years exactly like a man, but her salary is going to be 1/3. And she's not going to be promoted. Where does that come from? You know, it's called structural violence. And then there is another iceberg underneath that one. And it's called, that's the cultural violence, cultural violence is, it happens in our heads. And that's where we think, well, it's totally okay for some people to have to go to jail for any little thing, because I think they are inferior, that's in our head. And that's, that's cultural violence. It's, you know, racism, sexism, all kinds of discrimination is in our heads. But the problem is that once we get together and organize our communities and our societies, those prejudices transform into rules and habits and traditions, that's structural violence, and that pushes people to suffer so much that at some point, we have to stand up and revolt and rebel and use violence, direct violence. So it's like a whole package. And I'm not very good that like combat sports. So direct violence, I can't do much about it. I haven't studied law or economics very well. So structural violence, I'd be pretty useless. But cultural violence, I felt that had something to say. I thought, Oh, wow. If one fight we can pick, you know, in the huge battle for a better world. Maybe I can pick that one I can look into - Where does cultural violence come from? Prejudice, privilege, all those things? And where is it in me first? And how can we change that for the better? And of course, music was a natural fit for that.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 13:38
In his chapter for music and conflict transformation, Galtung writes, quote, maybe there also has to be an element of disharmony in the harmony, of contradiction in the transformation of the conflict. Peace is life. Something needs to be left unresolved. Good art is like good peace. Always challenging. We turn to a piece titled far away. This song is a result of a collaboration between the NGO Beyond Skin in Northern Ireland and MOMRI in Japan. The two co producers are Darren Ferguson of Beyond Skin and Olivier Urbain of Min on. The song was created by students of two schools, Glen High in Ireland and the C&S music school in Japan. Music by Yuta Hihara Lyrics by students of Glen High at that time, and music performed by students of the C&S Music School [music]
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 15:18
And before we get to Ikeda, I want to just hear about the story of the music and Conflict Transformation book. You know, I think I would want to note just how important that book has been one of the very first books to look at this, that music has a role to play here. And I remember very on in my own formation, like picking up the book off one of the shelves in the library and opening it and saying this looks interesting. And just the way in which I, it's the chapter on empathy that first hooked me, but the way in which that book changed me. And so I want to know the story of this book, like, how did where did you get this, this idea about? Maybe we should write this book on music and conflict transformation?
Olivier Urbain 16:02
Oh, wow, thank you. Well, thank you for picking that book, among so many others. On the shelf that day. So in 96, I decided to learn directly from Galtung. And after three years, we met in in Kyoto, actually, the four of us, his wife, my wife, and the two of us, because our both our wives are Japanese. So of course, you know, a lot of great communication there. And Galtung was establishing his own online university called Transcend Peace University. And so we had a very long brunch. And in the conversation, he mentioned that he would love me to teach something. But something original, something nobody had done before, because colleagues of Galtung had already established a peace economics or peace sociology, or even peace mathematics. You know, peace ecology. So, immediately, I thought, well, I've never heard of, you know, a course on music and peace. And he said, That's it. That's what you have to do. So from there, I started to prepare the course, started to have some ideas on what would work. And little by little, I started to write papers, published articles, attend conferences, discuss with people, my very first paper was called Jazz and social justice. If you remember there's this fabulous series by Ken Burns, about jazz, so I watched it very slowly, and took notes. And there is so much material in there about music and peacebuilding, about how, how jazz can came from the blues and how the blues was born at all and everything it means for the people who, you know, express themselves through the Blues of the very beginning. And what jazz has become today. This whole adventure was my very first attempt to link music and peacebuilding. So then in 2004, an Institute actually, I was not aware of I knew I knew the name Toda, but I didn't know there was a Toda Peace Institute. And a friend of mine told me, Well, you know, you're into music and peacebuilding, why not apply for a, you know, funding for a project because the Toda Peace Institute is organizing something about arts and peace. So I applied, it was accepted. And I had this fabulous opportunity thanks to the Toda Peace Institute of creating a team of about 10 people. And we all went to the conference in Madrid in 2005. And so we were able to discuss and share for a few days in Madrid. And each one decided to write a very special chapter. And so the book after a lot of work, teamwork was published in in 2008. So as you mentioned, one of the writers was Felicity Laurence, who wrote on empathy. Really fantastic chapter. And then you have Cynthia Cohen very well known also in the field of art and peace. She is very careful about saying that music is universal, everybody feels the same way with the same music. Well, maybe not at all. Maybe we have to be very careful about that. You have Galtung himself wrote his first chapter ever on music. You have Rick Palieri, who is a banjo player and singer, a disciple of Pete Seeger, who went to meet Pete and have a original interview of Pete for the book. So that's in his chapter. So, I didn't know but it was the very first academic book on the topic. And right after that music and conflict, just cutting the transformation part of music and conflict was published by ethnomusicologist a really excellent book and then from there, you have like, literally hundreds of research projects and now we have entire books, entire associations on music and peacebuilding.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 20:39
In Felicity Laurence's profound chapter on empathy, she notes that within Eurocentric languages, the word empathy has a relatively young history, introduced in 1873 is Einfulung. This German word meant something different from sympathy, and was a word to describe the feeling into that often accompanied experiences with art. Laurence draws upon Edith Stein's writings to caution that empathy can easily and falsely become a moment when we lose our sense of self, to the arousal of a group. The Holocaust into which Stein perished is just such a moment when the arousal of hatred within one group caused unthinkable acts within others.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 21:36
All right, well, let's lean into the story of three humans that you talk about and that you've given so much of your thought and life to in working in peace education, peace advocacy. So Makiguchi, Toda and Ikeda. First in the spirit of dialogue, I wanted to note to you like how beautifully I thought that you wrote about the way in which each one informed and change the next like that in and of itself is like a history of dialogue about how each one is changing. I wondered if we could start with Makiguchi and his groundbreaking philosophies of education. I see that here's someone who built notions of free school lunches. Here's someone who believed in the latent potential within children and children's ability to be advocates for peace. So can you start with the story of how Makiguchi builds models of education as an act of building peace.
Olivier Urbain 22:35
So, Makiguchi was was born in the 19th century. And by the time he was in his 40s, he was a well established teacher and educator, not only through his actions in the classroom,
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 22:54
Makiguchi demonstrated his care for the inner potential of children in many ways including a system of free lunches. Makiguchi prepared and delivered lunches to students.
Olivier Urbain 23:10
But he was forced to change schools all the time, because the authorities in Japan, really didn't like that at all. They wanted to create a strong Japan that could resist the, you know, invasions of the West. So Japan had to be ready not to be colonized. And you need discipline and all those things. So Makiguchi, inspired by the type of teachings, but that, for example, John Dewey, would, you know, share the time, he thought, well, education is useless if you don't really treasure the person in front of you, and really believe in the potential and give them the skills to develop their potential. That's what education is all about. So, he always got in trouble with authorities for doing that, but nobody could ever change his mind. So then, when he was around 49 This young man came from Hokkaido, a young, 20 year old young man who also had experience teaching and Toda coming from Hokkaido came to the big city, Tokyo, and he knew he needed a mentor an established teacher and theorist, pedagogist who could help him and he was able to meet Makiguchi and became his disciple. So then then this dynamic of being together, Makiguchi and toda then accelerated the emergence of this type of education, which is called value creating education. In Japanese, it's Soka means, you know, value creating, and so it's about it The fact that if you believe in that type of education, you believe that people, each individual has the potential to become totally happy, fulfilled, have wonderful relationships contribute to the world and of course contribute to a better world and contribute to peace. They don't need, not a transfer from you. You don't have to throw any logic.. knowledge at them, but what you need to do as a teacher is to bring out their latent potential and provide them with skills.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 25:31
Olivier Urbain spoke of value creation as a kind of constructive framing of what we experience in Victor Frankl's 1964. Book Man's Search for Meaning. Frankl explores how our imaginations of future and purpose construct our well being in the here and now. Frankl's thoughts and writings were formed during his time as a concentration camp survivor. Urbain reads from a quote by Frankl
Olivier Urbain 26:00
saying yes to life, in spite of everything presupposes that life is potentially meaningful under any conditions, even those which are most miserable. And this, in turn presupposes the human capacity to creatively turn life's negative aspects into something positive, or constructive. In other words, what matters is to make the best of any given situation. So in other words, what matters is to make the best of any given situation, for me that that's the major part of value creating education.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 26:45
Urbain shared a recent story from his classroom as a Ukrainian student made meaning of her studies and place in the wake of geopolitical violence.
Olivier Urbain 26:55
And then the girl from Ukraine raised her hand and she said, This is how I survive with everything that's happening in my country, to my family, to my friends, and you know, but I'm here in Japan, I'm alive, I can I can study. But how can I not be totally out of it? And you know, how can I live? Well, because I've decided that what matters is to make the best of any given situation. And based on that she's able to study to move forward and, and to imagine a future that one day in the future, she'll be able to do something for her country, for other countries, for people in general for world peace. But you can imagine the kind of tremendous courage and hope it takes from from one young person going through that. So all that, for me, is value creation.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 27:59
I think what I get from that is that there can be such a feeling of overwhelmed from the bigness of problems. And I think that there's both in this approach, there is a, there's a beauty in the smallness and the power of just one single person. That's something that I heard time and time again, from your book on Ikeda, about the value, the difference that one person can make.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 28:25
As 20th century Japan made ready for war, it laid frameworks of cultural and structural violence. The military government enacted the 1925 piece preservation law to end processes of dissent, as it mobilized for war. In 1943. This law was used to arrest and imprison Toda and Makiguchi for their refusal to conform to religious requirements. On January 8 1945, Toda was informed that Makiguchi had passed away some two months prior in a separate prison cell. Toda was engaged in his own solitary struggle of survival, and turned to the embrace of awakenings and revelations from the Lotus Sutra, Urbain writes, quote, Toda seem to be free of fear for the rest of his life. This first revelation gave him tremendous courage to overcome all obstacles. It also made him aware of how precious life is, and of the importance of the dignity of each individual. It confirmed his attitude and conviction as an educator, that each human being is precious and worthy of respect. Urbain speaks of Toda's awakening, to a sense of interconnectedness.
Olivier Urbain 29:52
And to make it simple in my own interpretation, is that each human being can have many different missions and functions and roles and contributions, but one of them can be to wake up to the fact that we are all parts of the web of life. We all have life within. And we have a mission to share that with others, and let them know that they also are part of the web of life and they have tremendous courage, wisdom and compassion inside of them, in a way it sounds like value creation from India from, you know, around 2000 years ago, he was already there, right? It was, of course, in other teachings. So then the two very strong awakenings, revelations that Toda had was that the most important is life itself, the fact that we are alive that we can breathe, and from there everything flows, and the fact that we each have a mission to make life better for others, not to charity, but by awakening them to the fact that their life is precious.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 31:07
After Toda was released from prison, he seemed to move with a "clarity of purpose" as he invested in the realization of Soka Gakkai. And on August 14 1947, Toda met quote, "a frail young man of 19, suffering from tuberculosis," by the name of Daisaku Ikeda, Urbain rewinds, the story to introduce Daisaku Ikeda,
Olivier Urbain 31:34
Ikeda was born in 1928. So Japan was already on the way to full scale war, they had already attacked and colonized, what is now Okinawa and Taiwan and Korea, and they were building their own little empire and growing empire. So Ikeda was born in the middle of that in 1928. And it was really not a good time to live. He had tuberculosis, but not many means to be taken care of properly. So he was suffering a lot from tuberculosis, he was he was very weak, but still at age 14, had to work in a factory in a Arms Factory, because basically, every kid had to do that in Japan. And then he saw that his brothers were sent to war, he had four elder brothers, and they were all sent to war, one after another. And especially his elder brother, was was really close to him, his name was Kiichi. And then something happened that really changed Ikeda forever, that in July 1941, Kiichi was allowed to come home and stay home for a few months. And he was changed. And he was horrified. And at some point, he said very clearly and with with rage, that what the Japanese, the atrocities the Japanese are committing in China, are absolutely horrible and unbearable. So it was a big shock. Because, you know, the family thought, well, we're sending our sons to serve the country for to liberate Asia, from the evil Westerners. But the reality is completely different. So then that brother had to go back to war in 1942. And then no news from him. And then the war is over. And in 1945, and then throughout 1946, the other brothers come back, brother number 1-2-3. Still no Kiichi. And then it's finally in 1947 that the news game that Kiichi was killed, he had been killed in 1945 in Burma, which is now Myanmar. So Ikeda saw his mother breaking down becoming very old very quickly and his father too. So this whole experience of having to work at an early age, having to do military drills all the time, being lied to by the entire country, realizing everything was a lie, was was a tremendous shock for the entire nation including Ikeda. So then we are now in 1961. Ikeda has adopted the philosophy of value creation, through through a form of Buddhism, but from Makiguchi and Toda, and he visits Asia and he goes to India. You know where Buddhism started, and then he stops by Burma, Myanmar. And definitely honors the memory of Kiichi, his elder brother, and then on the plane from Myanmar to Thailand. He had this very clear idea, like, I don't want anybody's elder brother to be killed like this anymore. You know, we really have to do something that we there's so much music and art and creativity in the world. Why don't we use that energy to make sure this kind of senseless killings and massacres never happen again. So when he landed in Thailand, it was it was, Min on was built in his mind. He was already there. And he shared with friends that he met there though, you know, what we really need to create to establish some kind of organization, some kind of institution that promotes friendship, understanding cultural exchanges, through music, and about two years later, that became Min-on
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 35:59
the concert master of the NHK Symphony Orchestra. Shinozaki Fuminori known as Maro notes, "music is different, it is something you feel it spreads among individuals. Music is about connecting people. I think this is the factor that can lead to world peace. This is the mission of musicians. This really could be the mission of music. We turn to a performance of Maro playing Mahler's adagietto from Symphony Number Five as an elegy to the loss of war, and those affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and those who have passed due to COVID 19. This recording is from the fourth episode of the share music day series produced by the Min-on Research Institute in 2022. The video is freely available on YouTube and provided with generous permission by the Min-on Music Research Institute.[music]
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 37:30
May we find revolutions within legacies of dialogue and mentors within the blooms of the lotus flower, finding the beauty and the potential within, holding disharmony within harmony as a creative energy to transform, to grow, bringing out the best versions of our community.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 38:39
Olivier Urbain's books, Daisaku Ikeda's Philosophy of Peace and Music and Conflict Transformation are published by IB Taurus press, an imprint of Bloomsbury publishing. The website of the Min-on concert association can be found at WWW dot min hyphen on.org. This is the music and peacebuilding podcast hosted by Kevin Shorner-Johnson at Elizabethtown College. Stay tuned for our next episode, as we continue our journey to explore revolutionary practices of dialogue.[music]
Transcript Part 2 - Episode 15
ikeda, dialogue, peacebuilding, music, people, interconnectedness, life, world, center, compassion, belonging, peace, writes, wisdom, book, connection, courage, olivier, scholar, min
Anri Tanabe, Olivier Urbain, Kevin Maher, Kevin Shorner-Johnson
Olivier Urbain 00:00
And then what is it that best is best in me and best in you, your courage, your wisdom, your compassion. So basically, it's about bringing out my own courage, wisdom and compassion, through the process of dialogue here and now, and bringing those qualities within you. And then letting you do that to me, at the same time, in real time here and now
Anri Tanabe 00:24
Like a purpose. And, like sense of belonging, because when we don't have that, I think it becomes so easy to isolate ourselves and just focus on what's, you know, what's what's right in front of us without really thinking about, like, the interconnectedness and what's happening in the world and how does what I do affect what's happening across the country. You know, there's this disconnect of what I do doesn't matter.
Kevin Maher 00:50
peacebuilding starts with the person right in front of you. It's not solely some grand endeavor that is focused on the entire.. an entire nation or country but or world but it's really starts with the person right in front of us. And if we can't have that respect or belief in that potential, in the person right in front of us, then it's, it's almost impossible to to have that same faith in the potential of all of humankind.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 01:19
You were listening to season three of the music and peacebuilding podcast, a professional development network at music peacebuilding.com Exploring intersections of peacebuilding, sacredness, community, creativity and imagination. Through research and story. We returned to part two of a conversation with Olivier Urbain on music and peacebuilding. In this episode, we add the voices of Kevin Maher and Andre Tanabe. To discuss how Ikeda's practice of dialogue is lived and practiced. Together. With these three voices, we will explore inner transformation, Human Revolution, dialogue, and practices of courage, wisdom and compassion. Olivier Urbain is the director of the Min on Research Institute and is a published scholar on peacebuilding. Kevin Maher is the executive director for the Ikeda Center, where he oversees programs, publications and the strategic plan of the center. Anri Tanabe is the Outreach Manager at the center where she manages the education Fellows Program, Market Center books and contributes to programming,
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 02:29
Inner transformation and Human Revolution. These two pieces are really important. You, you note that Ikeda introduces a vision where each individual no matter how small they may be, has the power to enact and envision peace. And you quote, Ikeda as stating, quote, a great inner revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and further will cause a change in the destiny of humankind. So speak to the nature of this inner revolution. I hear the resonance from the, from the Buddhist philosophy, but yeah, what is this inner revolution in the lens of Ikeda?
Oh, thank you. That's this chapter five, right? Chapter five in the book. Absolutely. So I realized that the people I admire most who have really changed the world inside out, like, for example, Gandhi, you take Gandhi, I'd like to quote from Gandhi, "we but mirror the world, all the tendencies present in the outer world, are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change." And then Henry Gibson said, "people want only special revolutions in externals, in politics, and so on. But that's just tinkering. What really is called for is a revolution of the human mind." So this idea of changing yourself, to be able to change your community and to change the world has been, you know, can be found throughout history, throughout civilizations all over the world. It's not anything that is special to any teaching or or philosophy. But what Makiguchi Toda and Ikeda established is a grassroots movement that is based on this idea of inner transformation, and they give it a special name, which is Human Revolution. But Human Revolution is one way to do inner transformation. So you have inner transformation in Christianity, for example, when Tolstoy wrote, you know, the kingdom of God is within you. That for me, that's really like, yeah, exactly. Right. So you have that in Judaism you have that In Islam, you've that in all religions in Hinduism. And you have also that in the UNESCO declaration in the preamble is that you know, since since wars start in the mind of people, it is in the minds of people that the fortresses or the beginning of peace has to be established, right. So whether you have spirituality or not doesn't matter. What I did in my research on Ikeda is try to translate this idea of Human Revolution in a specific way, recommended by Makiguchi, Toda, Ikeda, in terms of everybody can understand and very quickly, those three virtues appeared in all the writings, not always by three, sometimes it's just two courage, wisdom, or courage, compassion or wisdom, compassion, but sometimes all three, and definitely, all three are important. So it's about wisdom, and courage and compassion.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 06:11
What does it mean to bring up the best in the other, Urbain spoke of courage, wisdom and compassion as the activator, the spark of hope and the opening to relationship, the best in ourselves is dependent on bringing out the best in others. Our dependence is an interdependence, where we find ourselves entangled in a web of life, Urbain turned to talk of Ikeda speech at Columbia University, where Ikeda laid out interconnectedness as the foundational principle of global citizenship. What do wisdom, courage and compassion look like when they are upheld by interconnection?
What kind of wisdom? What is the most important wisdom? To be able to embrace the whole planet? Is the wisdom to perceive the interconnectedness of all life. exactly your question. So among all the types of wisdom that we have, Ikeda recommends, the wisdom to proceed that absolutely everything is interconnected - our lives with all the lives of other people, like you know, today, I was able to put some air conditioning is very, very hot, I didn't build the machine, I didn't bring the electricity here, I didn't create the air. Many, many people plus elements of the planet made it possible for me to have fresh air in my room. It's lots of people already. And then I had breakfast, who brought me the food, who prepared it, who built the plate today, you know, if you think about how many people contributed to you, Kevin having headphones on your, you know, and shirt, just that that's interconnectedness. And of course, not just between homosapiens but all living creatures, all animals, all plants and rocks, and the sky and the air. So everything is interconnected. And when we make decisions, when we think about what we want to do in life, Ikeda recommends to activate this wisdom, that everything is interconnected.
Then, based on that the type of courage that he recommends is the courage to embrace difference. To understand that we are all unique, other people will not think exactly like you do, they will have different skin color, different gender, different sex, different sexual orientations, socio cultural, economic background. But if you can see the interconnectedness of all living beings then your part of the web of life, and the person in front of you is equally part of the web of life. And you have lots of things to talk about together and build together based on that interconnectedness. So difference is great, difference helps you to grow and to activate your your critical thinking. Because if somebody doesn't agree with you, it's like a professional, critical thinker for free right in front of you. And now you have to respond something. So the courage to embrace difference, and finally, the compassion to imagine the suffering of other people. And in the this paragraph, Ikeda talks about imagining the suffering of people who are in even even in faraway places, but we are all very far away from each other. For example, let's say I meet you for the first time in a coffee shop somewhere. I've never met you before. I have a certain impression of who you are. I have no idea where you come from the stories you have to tell what you went through what you're thinking about. I just decide, okay, he looks like this, maybe he's like that just an impression. I have no compassion, for your struggles for your life for your joy for your suffering. So even though I would sit next to you, you are very, very far. So when Ikeda says the compassion to imagine the sufferings, and of course, the joys, but the sufferings of other people, he's talking about that, he's talking about imagining the incredible potential each person has. So this package of wisdom, courage and compassion. It's really interesting, because little by little, it became the center of so many studies today, there is a whole field of study on Soka education, for example, at DePaul University in Chicago, or Guelph??, or Laval, in Canada, in Spain, also in all over the world, those are appearing, but they're also centres of studies for global citizenship, and also for Ikeda peace studies. And what I noticed now because I'm like, you know, kind of going around all of them. Basically, they all go back to that one paragraph of wisdom, courage and compassion. Because even today, when you think in terms of global governance, international relations, political science, it's very, very rare to start with human virtues. It's about all kinds of things economics and finance and mutual understanding and negotiations. But very rarely do you include your own courage, wisdom and compassion in the package. So for Ikeda to declare in 96 that global citizenship means basically those three virtues is still revolutionary. Today,
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 11:59
we turn to a recording titled "we are the future," the performer Danja produced this recording Lyrics by Danja, Belle Aires and Catony vocals by Danja, Belle Aires and the End Time Harvest Children Choir Maiduguri, this recording is provided with generous permission by Min-on and Danja. [music]
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 12:55
[music] So dialogue, you know I understand that we're on this continuous journey to find connection points with others. Yes, and my favorite quote here was, was where he says, "engaging in dialogue is a struggle to positively transform our own life as well as that of others. It is the act of breaking out of the shell of our lesser self surmounting surmounting the wall of our callous ego and creating and expanding positive connections with others." So talk about this vision of dialogue, that, and it moves well beyond simple conversation, to moments where hearts might be opened. And the sense of letting the dialogue do its work to change us.
So dialogue is like the essential ingredient to move from inner peace to actual, concrete peace outside. And I was wondering, why is it that Ikeda has so many dialogues he's had literally 1000s and 1000s of dialogues with people of all walks of life. And if I, if I look at, for example, the list of published dialogues, those that were actually, you know, not only you discuss together, but then after that you write to each other and you edit it and you you make the effort to publish a book. That's there's almost 80 of them today. So I was wondering what What is he trying to accomplish? Because after the dialogue is done, those people do not join anything. They do not become members of anything, they just continue their lives. You know, so I decided to read the dialogues that were available at the time and I started I read about 12 When I could now see clearly the pattern. And to make a long tale short. I summarize The intention underneath every dialogue as a decision to bring out, to bring out the best in yourself and in others. So, for instance, here we have, we are having a dialogue. And maybe my intention is to sound really great for the public to become famous or to make you happy. Or I might have all kinds of intentions, but what if my intention is simply to bring out the best in myself, really try my best to bring out what's best in me. And of course, bring out what's best in you. And then imagine that you're doing the same in reverse. So now we can really, really talk about anything we want freely based on that intention. And then what is it that's best, that's best in me and best in you? Well, everything we've talked about so far, your courage, your wisdom, your compassion. So basically, it's about bringing out my own courage, wisdom and compassion, through the process of dialogue here and now and bringing those qualities within you, and then letting you do that to me, at the same time, in real time, here and now.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 16:18
Ikeda writes that if one single drop of the water of dialogue is allowed to fall on the wasteland of intolerance. Quote, "there will be a possibility for trust and friendship to spring up." In September of 1993, Daisaku, Ikeda delivered a speech at Harvard University that laid the foundations for the Ikeda center for peace, learning and dialogue in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I asked the center's director Kevin Maher, about how the center lives out practices of dialogue within its mission.
Kevin Maher 16:54
Inspired by that lecture, and by other messages he sent to the center, we've, our mission has been to bring like minded students, scholars, young professionals, peacebuilders, into dialogue on global issues, and discuss, you know, approaches and perspectives in terms of how we can really foster a culture of peace for us as a center. Rather than having a stance that we we know everything and we're here to teach we're learning we're really I mean, we there's an intention behind having peace learning and dialogue in the name is that we're learning through those those conversations
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 17:40
Urbain notes that dialogue may be used to bring out the best in the self and other, letting quote, "people's common humanity shine despite, or rather through differences and backgrounds, lifestyles and worldviews." Urbain later writes, I believe that for Ikeda also, dialogue is a way to reach our common humanity through the logos, putting human reason at the service of a more humane world, a way to ensure that the I pays full attention to and brings out the best in the "you." I asked Anri Tanabe of the Ikeda center to expand on understandings of how bringing out the best in the other is practiced in dialogue at the Ikeda center.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 18:26
So that, that, that piece of bringing out the best in the other that's come out a lot in my talks with Olivier and I was curious, how do you see that realized within your practice of dialogue about this bringing out the best in the other?
Yeah, I think what I see at the dialogue night's event is I think it's a space where people can really self reflect. And I think often in dialogue, we come in thinking, oh, I want someone to listen to me, you know, maybe that's kind of the intention that people enter a dialogue with, that, you know, this person is wrong. And I have to convince them that my opinion is right. But bringing out the best in oneself and others, I think, giving the space to really think about what the purpose of the dialogue is. And maybe the end goal is not really to convince anybody but to understand one another better. And I think the more that we can really understand ourselves and other people, we give space for a solution to come out through like a shared understanding. And so it's not about convincing someone that I'm right and they're wrong, but really coming to a better understanding of the other person but also of ourselves.
We have a list of core convictions that that guide our work, all of it, essentially being informed by Mr. Ikeda's approach and one of the core convictions is that it's critical to maintain faith and people's potential for good. Recognizing that potential through dialogue and our interactions with us, not only is Anri sharing, I feel, impacts the intention and tone of the dialogue itself, but it enriches our lives in the process. And I think that connects with that the larger idea of the interdependence of all life, that when we.. it's not just a recognition that we're connected, but it is through those connections, it is through mutual support and encouragement that we grow as individuals, in addition to the person in front of us. And having that kind of stance, that kind of approach, really impacts the way that we interact with each individual. And for us, I think peace, peace building, means and this is inspired by Elise Boulding's work too peacebuilding starts with the person right in front of you. It's not, it's not solely some grand endeavor that is focused on the entire an entire nation or country, but, or world, but it's really starts with the person right in front of us. And if we can't have that respect, or belief in that potential in the person right in front of us, then it's, it's almost impossible to have that same faith in the potential of all of humankind.
If you really practice this intention of bringing out the best in yourself and others through dialogue, you do that every day 24/7 For years, then I think you can come to that kind of very risky. Proposition. You know, actually, when there is a video that's available to the public, where he he meets Gorbachev, and they're going to sit down for the dialogue. And he meets Gorbachev, and he says, Oh, you, I really don't agree with so many things you do, and you say, so let's have a good fight. But the way he said it, they both burst out in laughter, right? Because the if the intention is what we've been talking about, so it's really a struggle, I can't do it 24/7 Many times I have dialogues to obtain things or to convince people or to get out of situations or, but I always try to remind myself, wait, wait, we wait, this is a unique opportunity, maybe I will never be able to speak to that person again. What about bringing out the best in myself and the other person as a basis? And do the rest of the conversation around that? Yeah.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 22:44
I think I would reflect back to you after reading the book that as I was reading about his move to document his dialogue, I thought, here's somebody who's doing it well ahead of the curve in that almost considering dialogue to be the form of scholarship, you know, that you encounter these people and you do the work of publication. And I was hearing the resonance in my own decision to to take this direction where I was going into podcasting and say, I'm going to put as much effort into podcasting as I do into writing a book chapter and consider it to be a new form of scholarship. And I would resonate with the degree to which being in this kind of space changes me.. dialogue. So I just I wanted to really honor that that I really, yeah, I'm really in awe of that move that he made.
Olivier Urbain 23:38
Yeah, absolutely. In a way each book is a is a written podcast.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 23:42
Yeah, it is. Exactly. He was well ahead of the curve. He predicted podcasting. Exactly what he did. Absolutely.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 23:57
So I was also curious, because courage, wisdom and compassion comes up so much. And I was curious about how how do you communicate these values of courage, wisdom, compassion, and how do you see courage, wisdom, compassion lived out within dialogue?
That's a wonderful question. I'm smiling because we have a seminar series we launched last year called the global citizen seminar series, and the first and this is a series, a seminar that engages doctoral students with senior scholars and in conversation over a sustained seminar. So the same group meeting several times. In the first year, we had a deep conversation on those three elements of wisdom, courage and compassion. And there are questions of can those characteristics be taught? How can they be fostered? And I think what and Anri please correct me if I'm misremembering but a lot of it came down to it's something that we have to model in practice ourselves, and that it comes through, it really comes through and dialogue in that way. And that these are not sort of abstract ideas, but how do we, in our own lives grapple with? How do we become more compassionate? How do we use our wisdom to help others and, you know, and courage being sort of the, the linchpin between all three is that without courage, you know, we won't, we won't, even if we have wisdom, we won't be able to take the action that we need to. You know Mr. Ikeda writes about this or talks about this. And you know, without, without courage, it's, it's, it can become almost impossible to act for on behalf of others. So really grappling ourselves with what does it mean to continue to deepen those, those values in our own life, and then model it through our behavior and our engagement with others. And we all agree that it's, it's an ongoing process, it's not like we get to a place where we've sort of maxed out our, even our compassion, we never get to a point where it's like, okay, I'm as compassionate as I can possibly be. Always, there's always gonna always go deeper there. And every day, it's sort of recognizing it's about it's a, it's a path, not, you know, not an endpoint. But it's a way of being. And I feel dialogue is the same, we can continue to be more dialogic, both with ourselves and with others, and that we learn that through that connection with others. And I think, again, those those three elements of wisdom, courage and compassion, that without engagement with others, they they're entirely theoretical. You know, it's really about how we interact with other human beings, that we see them alive and thrive.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 26:57
So Anri, as you do these dialogues, what are what do you find now to be the pressing concerns that are being brought up by the youth in dialogue now?
I think, maybe not the most pressing concern, because I think at any given time, you know, we all have our unique worries or, you know, concerns on what's what's happening right in front of us. But I think, this need for connection and being able to bring that out, and just being able to share have spaces where we're able to share what we're feeling or going through. And I think just maybe having like, a purpose and like sense of belonging, I think that comes up often. Because when we don't have that, I think it becomes so easy to isolate ourselves and just focus on what's, you know, what's what's right in front of us without really thinking about, like, the interconnectedness and what's happening in the world, and how does, what I do affect what's happening across the country, you know, in a war torn area, or there's this disconnect of like, what I do doesn't matter. And being able to really converse with others, dialogue with others, and really understand that what we do in our daily life actually does have an impact on the world. And I think with that, you know, people feel more inspired to be able to take action, but I think so just like, being able to talk about these issues that feel so big. And being able to have this sense of what I do will actually matter.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 28:30
Yeah, I would echo that I've, I've really sensed that word belonging is it's everywhere now. And but and yet, it's such a complex word. Try I think, I think that maybe my focus next year is really digging into the social psychology about belonging. And, you know, what, what are the different colors of that word? As it changes for people?
Anri Tanabe 28:52
Yeah, we actually right? Was it 2019? Kevin, maybe early 2019. We had an event on loneliness, we call that the loneliness epidemic. And that was actually our highest attended event, I think, like a number maybe, like,
Kevin Maher 29:11
close to 90,
Yeah, it was really big. And, you know, there were many people who actually had never heard about the Ikeda center before. A lot of times, you know, the people who come either have been here before or have friends. But for that event, specifically, people had seen you know, this topic or even Googled like events on loneliness. And they came really seeking this connection and wanting to figure out how to how to grapple with it, how to deal with it, how to move forward from it, and I think with the 2020 I think even more so you know, now it's people are really trying to figure out you know, what they can do and how they can feel that So, the the sense of belonging
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 30:02
In his 2022 book on belonging, Jeffrey Cohen notes belonging is less a keystone belief and more like a perception that is being created anew in every situation. He later notes quote, "the key question is not what is our nature, but what are the elements of situations that draw out the better angels of our nature" In bringing out the better parts within ourselves and others. Music may help us craft situations that connect, repair and deepen our well being. Urbain speaks of our potential to use music to connect, build belonging, and peace.
Overall, the book has a very optimistic view of what music can do using the now forbidden phrase, the power of music, if you want, you know, any music scholar, ethnomusicologist to run away from you just use that phrase, it's forbidden now. Okay. So I got pretty sophisticated criticism from fantastic scholars who, you know, very kindly wrote in their article or their book, there is this guy, he believes in the potential, whatever the positive power of music, how naive and this and that, okay. And I took that as a form of dialogue, they're trying to bring the best out of me. So through that process, I established some kind of rules for myself if you want rule number one, the ambivalence of music. It's completely ambivalent. I mean, I go do I go the other extreme, I say that music has absolutely no value for peace by itself, you can use a piece of music to torture people, you can even set traps to distract them and kill them with music. You can do whatever you want, because music for good or for evil its completely ambivalent. Now, the bad news is that for peacebuilders is not enough to just use music, for peacebuilding, it could backfire, like terribly. The good news is that, since it's so powerful, to do bad things, and do good things, then if you choose to do good things, you have a chance of creating something good, that's the good news, but it is totally ambivalent. The second thing is that the beauty of the melodies and the chords and the rhythm is all wonderful, but that's not conducive to peacebuilding at all, what is are people, its people and how people treat each other that will you know, move things towards more peace or or towards less peace and more violence. But what music does is that it touches you It influences you, it changes your mood, it changes your your relationship with your environment, and then if you can play music together or sing together or listen to music together, it creates a deep connection with another human being it can do that with entire groups also and the people who are affected and changed by this musical activity. Are now if you want in a better position to decide to talk to do things for peacebuilding.
So the question about music and, and peace. So the second important thing is that music is a form of action, it accompanies human action. So there is this phenomenal book called musicking. You know, a verb musicking by Christopher Christopher Small 1998. The whole book is about that is about the fact that it's not only about the sounds and the beauty of the melodies and everything. But it's really about what we do with music, how we treat each other with music. So there's the musicking part. And then there's other very important elements, but I would say a third one is the fact that it's not universal. Music is not universal. Music can be found all over the planets. So in that way it is universally distributed. But to have the illusion that the music I like everybody will like it. Oh, this this piece of music. I'm sure everybody in the world will like it because I feel it's so beautiful. That is impossible. You can find 1000s of people who will hate that music for all kinds of reasons. So based on all our sound and musical experiences, even starting in the womb, we can hear you know the heartbeat of our mother already as soon as we have for around four or five months, you know the embryo can hear it. So all our musical experiences good and bad, create in us our music, personal musical culture. And all the songs old or new songs that can be included in that musical world we would experience as pleasant and interesting and happy. And those that contradicted or are completely unfamiliar and that we don't feel like learning or music that we are forced to hear under torture, for example, are in terrible conditions, we will hate that music, whereas others will like it. So if we put those three together, I think we have a good start, like, how would you like to start thinking about music and peace? Okay, start like this. Number one, music is completely ambivalent. It's not for peace. You make it for peace if you want, but it's not for peace. Number two, it's all about action. Music by itself is completely useless. But when it accompanies action, it can change everything. And number three, music is not universal. Be very careful who is right in front of you that you want to play music with, or the group right in front of you ask them about their musical tastes and experiences and build it from there. So that's, that's the theory I gained if you want after years and years of those, if you want academic dialogues.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 36:30
Urbain speaks of the work of Min-on to develop human music technologies that overcome barriers to belonging within an interconnected world.
And after years of research, I decided to focus on human relationships, that a lot of the peacebuilding work we need to do, whether it's about climate change, or about, you know, racial injustice or sexual injustice or gender or sex orientation, socio economic, age, nationality, ethnicity, political choice, the.. are you human or not, if you're not human, you're an animal, you're a plant, I can treat you like I can do whatever I like. That's also a form of discrimination. So all those separations, I want to focus on that I want to develop the greatest musical technology to overcome those artificial barriers, to create a feeling of connection and of belonging, between everything and everything because of the interconnectedness of all life and living. So that's what we do. We organize conferences, we publish articles. We now produce videos. We have started, a radio program is going to start in Japanese next month, followed by webinars in English. Probably next year. And above all, we've been working for two - three years now. On a an online hub.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 38:10
This online hub seeks to connect musical peacebuilders around the world Urbain spoke of an inclusive vision for music, and the journey of the Min on concert association to bring the La Scala opera to Japan.
One of the great achievements of Min-on is to have brought La Scala of Milan, the whole Scala like 500 people personnel, with trucks of costumes, to tour all over Japan. And the director of the la Scala at the time, made a famous declaration in a newspaper and he said Min-on was able to bring the entire la Scala, except for the building. Wow. So yes, it started with with Western classical music you can imagine in 1963 in Japan, if you want to do something for world peace, understanding and being friends with with the West was definitely a major step forward. But very quickly, because the the idea behind Min-on that was proposed by Ikeda is how can we really ensure that people can learn about each other can connect with each other? Through music and the arts? Let's establish a concert association. So that's the basic intention. So very quickly, you realize that interconnectedness of all things and people it's not just Western classical music, of course. So then Min-on started to invite the Beijing opera, for example, or drumming, drumming troops from from Africa, traditional music from Korea from all over the world from so it's this if you want a early decolonial thinking that this idea that there is a an evolution of music. That we started with something very simple to come to the very, very sophisticated, multi tonal western music. I personally am totally against that kind of idea. I think music is in is in the here and now and that all types of music have something to offer. And I mean, if you want to compete with the intricacies of African drumming, or Latin American drumming, and compare that to western classical drumming, you know, good luck. Right?
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 40:31
Yeah, that whole road of comparison is not helpful.
No, it's not. It's not it's, you know, how we connect with each other through music in the moment.
Olivier Urbain 40:50
So interconnectedness of all human beings and all living beings doesn't really have a center. You have to be very careful about that. It's not a certain superior skin color type of people who decide how to interconnect the world. The centers are everywhere. Everybody is the center of the entire interconnectedness of the world. Which means your history, your village, your town, your music, your background, is the most important thing that we need to preserve and honor. So that's why we have we have videos now about all types of music by all types of people. But of course, from the angle of how could this be contributing to a better world more peaceful, more harmonious, more respectful, more, more, yeah, more in in harmony with nature and the biosphere? Maybe that's the only thing that we consciously push forward is this idea of music and peacebuilding.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 42:03
In the introduction to the book, hope and joy in education, engaging Daisaku Ikeda across curriculum and context, Jason Goulah writes about hope, joy, interdependence, and continual processes of being and becoming, he writes, human education, quote, "calls on us to encourage the individual right in front of us to believe in everyone's unique and unlimited potential, to never give up on anyone no matter what. But it is also equally, an approach that demands that we awaken to the full scope, and possibility of our own humanity, and humaneness." An awakening to the fullness of interdependence is one that collapses dualisms, quote, "and views humanities as inherently interdependent with all phenomena." As he quotes Ikeda, Goulah notes that this perspective taking requires a movement from the egoistic less herself to the infinite or greater self, inspired by Goulah's writing, and Olivier's language of interconnectedness. I asked about imaginations of connectedness with Kevin and Anri of the Ikeda Center,
our focus is really on, on cultivating rather than saying this is this is a specific approach, or this is a path to how you engage in dialogue, really cultivating an ethos and a greater ethos or, or philosophy of, how do we live with a vision towards how deeply connected we all are, and how the, you know, Mr. Ikeda often talks about how the happiness of others is deeply connected to our our own happiness, but the suffering of others is as well. So we really live with that sort of ethos in mind. It's transformational, both ourselves and others. And so I love that that approach that you're talking about, and that idea of imagination, I mean, again, I invoked her name earlier, but Elise Boulding. And I often talk about if we want to, you know, we live in a culture of war, if we want to envision we want to have a culture of peace, we need to envision what that would look like. It can't be just sort of an abstract idea. And so starting with that vision, and then working backwards, what are the steps needed to take to get towards that? I think the idea of imagination is so key.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 44:31
One thing I would reflect to is that as I've been sitting with the Ikeda, one of the things that's really come to the forefront for me that I think I've experienced before is that this this power of interconnectedness, I mean, in many ways, it's a it's a faculty of the imagination or maybe it starts that way that you have to understand you know, the, where does this shirt come from the all the things that surround me in my life and how it.. how my life is so intertwined with others and our capacity to imagine into the interconnectedness, maybe is a capacity to connect.
Wow. And that, like helps us understand our connection to the environment too, right. You know, like, with the climate activists, you know, talking about how if we can understand, like, like you said, where your shirt comes from and who's involved in, you know, creating the food, or growing the food from the land and getting it to our table, and really not being able to treat the earth poorly, if we understand that, this is the food that nourishes our body, and this is what we give to the Earth is what comes back to us, you know, in that cyclical connection. And I feel like, when we separate that, it becomes so easy to think that we'll have resources forever, or what I do doesn't impact anybody else.
Yet, in his Harvard in the 93, Harvard lecture, he talks about so interdependence is that is the sort of the third key approach to peace building for him. And he says that in that talk, he says that nothing and no one exists in isolation. And all things are mutually supporting an interrelated, forming a living Cosmos, and sort of that grander vision of what interdependence might mean, Jason Goulah was a scholar, advisor to the center, but a scholar on Ikeda's work, he often talks about Ikeda's idea of Kyosei, the Japanese, the Japanese term for interdependence, one of the ways that it's translated, which I think you might appreciate, is creative coexistence. So it's not just that we're our lives, that we're just connected in a way that, you know, homes that are very close together, connected, but that we, this idea that, that we coexist, we co-arise through creativity through engagement with each other and how it's a living, breathing, ongoing process of, of living together. I love that image of it, rather than just coincidental just the connection, but rather it's mutually supporting and thriving.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 47:17
That's so cool yeah, I'm always fascinated by the ways in which language illuminates deeper understandings of concepts that are sometimes shallow in other languages. So yeah, it seems beautiful.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 47:28
In from the ashes, Ikeda writes "I believe that dialogue holds the key to any lasting solution. Now, more than ever, we must reach out in a further effort to understand each other and engage in genuine dialogue. Words spoken from the heart, have the power to change a person's life. They can even melt the ice walls of mistrust that separate peoples and nations. We must expand our efforts to promote dialogue between and among civilizations."
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 48:05
A poem I wrote, inspired by the language of Ikeda and others in this podcast, may we bring out the best in ourselves by bringing out the best in others, melting ice walls, where rain falls upon wastelands of intolerance, germinating seeds of trust, empathy, courage, wisdom, compassion, building imaginations of interconnection, that hold nothing more, but the impossibility of our separation.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 48:44
Friends, this brings to a close season three of the music and peacebuilding podcast, one that has journeyed through language of belonging, agency, entrainment, embodiment, hospitality, compassion and our care for place. I have been forever changed by the voices across this season, and have felt your listening presence on this journey. If you value this music and peacebuilding podcast, please leave a review such that others can find this space. In a few months, we will be back to launch a new journey of discovery.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 49:24
Olivier Urbain's books "Daisaku Ikeda's philosophy of peace" and "music and conflict transformation" are published by IB Taurus press an imprint of Bloomsbury publishing. The website of the Min on concert Association and the Min on Research Institute can be found at WWW dot men hyphen en.org. Special thanks to Min on for permissions to use recordings across these podcasts. The Ikeda center for peace learning and dialogue can be found at WWW dot Ikeda center.org The book cited in this podcast hope and joy and education engaging Daisaku Ikeda across curriculum and context is edited by Isabel Nunez and Jason Goulah and available from the Ikeda Center. I recommend exploring their books and publications as well as their podcast titled The dialogue studio.
Kevin Shorner-Johnson 50:23
This is the music and peacebuilding podcast hosted by Kevin Shorner-Johnson. At Elizabeth town College, we host a master of music education with an emphasis in peacebuilding. thinking deeply we reclaim space for connection and care. Join us at music peace building.com