The beauty of the evening forest, especially under a full moon, throws into sharp contrast the boundary between the sky and the mountain ridges, as if viewing a wood-block print. It is a world of white and black. It is also a world savored only by those who experience it. Captured in photos or video, you may be able to discern these images to a certain extent, but you can never feel them in the same way. Because when you are there, it is not only through your eyes that you are touched: your skin senses the temperature and humidity; you smell the evening forest; fleetingly heard sounds that defy definition flit past your ears. Go out into the night forest, pick up a leaf, examine it front and back. How much beauty you can discover! Nobukiyo Takahashi, Mori ni asobu: Dorogame-san no sekai (Tokyo: Asahi Shimbunsha, 1992).,
Life is the blossoming of flowers in the spring, the ripening of fruit in the fall, the rhythm of the earth and of nature. Life is the cry of cicadas signaling the end of summer, migratory birds winging south in a transparent autumn sky, fish frolicking in a stream. Life is the joy beautiful music instills in us, the thrilling sight of a mountain peak reddened by the rising sun, the myriad combinations and permutations of visible and invisible phenomena. Life is all things. – Daisaku Ikeda
This post dedicated to both Lars & Daisaku Ikeda. Picture & Video both by Lars van de Goor.
(Please take the time to visit Daisaku Ikeda’s Ikedaquotes website and also check out Lars site and views his amazing photography)
One pressing threat to the dignity of far too many people in our world today is poverty. The pervasive stress of economic deprivation is compounded when people feel that their very existence is disregarded, becoming alienated and being deprived of a meaningful role and place within society. This underlies the need for a socially inclusive approach focused on the restoration of a sense of connection with others and of purpose in life.
Regardless of circumstance, all people inherently possess a life-state of ultimate dignity and are in this sense fundamentally equal and endowed with limitless possibilities. When we awaken to our original worth and determine to change present realities, we become a source of hope for others. Such a perspective is, I believe, valuable not only for the challenges of constructing a culture of human rights, but also for realizing a sustainable society.
[…] There is also social and cultural poverty, which prevents people from realizing their full potential.
Social poverty is the absence of social services and opportunities for education, as well as a lack of information and infrastructure that would help people better develop their economic activities. Another major issue is the absence of government policies capable of responding to poverty issues.
Cultural poverty arises from traditions or old practices that hamper development, or the resistance of a community to accepting new information that would be advantageous to them. I would say also that one of the factors leading to poverty is the culture of corruption.
The number one factor that makes it difficult is an extreme power imbalance in any given society. This makes it harder for people to acquire the power to escape poverty. Examples of what cause this imbalance are a lack of dedication within government to prioritizing and implementing policies that would respond to poverty issues, and abuses of power by corrupt authorities. They are the ones who are actually hampering the development of their own communities. Political instability is also a very big factor in keeping the poor poorer. Disaster is another factor that prevents people from escaping poverty. This is especially the case in Africa, where recurring drought creates a cycle of poverty.
“The preservation of one’s own culture is such a natural thing. It is a matter of respecting oneself and one’s own family and nation. It is a way of saying to your own people, as the Zulus do, “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.” That is, “I am who I am because of you.” Having said that, no person wishes to be walled off from the world, to be forced to live in a ghetto. So we all have a natural inclination to share our cultures, which by no means dilutes them–or at least it shouldn’t. The history of the world, at least in peacetime, is a history of mutual enrichment through an exchange of cultural riches. So preservation and exchange can and should go hand in hand. They always have, except when crass commercialism gets in the way, cheapening things for everyone. I think we can be vigilant against that, though.” – Youssou N’Dour gave an interview Transformative Power to the SGI Quarterly on the theme of “music as a force for peace.”
“Whether we can become good citizens of the world hinges upon the degree of self-control we achieve. It is, after all, the ability to see ourselves penetratingly that enables us to transcend national boundaries and ethnic barriers. Eternal peace is not a static condition but a continuum that is consciously maintained through the interaction of self-restraining individuals within a self-restraining society. Cooperation for peace is necessary in the areas of politics, economics, and education, of course. But the building of lasting peace depends on how many people of self-restraint can be fostered through religious guidance. If religion is worthy of the name, and if it is one that can respond to the needs of contemporary times, it should be able to nurture in its followers the spiritual basis for becoming good citizens of the world.”- (Daisaku Ikeda, 1990 Peace Proposal)