“Civilisation is not to kill human beings, not to destroy things, not to make war. Civilisation is to hold mutual affection and to respect each other.” —The Most Venerable Nichidatsu Fuji.
One of the highlights of this year’s trip to London was our visit to the Battersea Peace Pagoda. In a turbulent world, where war sadly is a tragic reality for many. The Peace Pagoda serves as a beacon of hope and a stark reminder of the need, more than ever before, for world harmony and peace.
As part of the 1984 Greater London Council Peace Year, the Pagoda was offered to the people of London by Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order by its founder the Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii, a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi. Nipponzan Myohoji is a relatively small and unknown peace movement with a few thousand followers worldwide, of monastics and lay people, that emerged from the Nichiren sect of Japanese Buddhism. Since 1947, the movement has been constructing Peace Pagodas all around the world including Europe, Asia, and the United States to promote world peace.
A Peace Pagoda is a Buddhist stupa, which in Indian means ‘heap’ and contains relics of the Buddha, resembling in shape an upturned begging bowl and folded monastic robes and a stick. The Battersea Peace Pagoda is a two-roofed structure, made of concrete and wood and has on each of its four sides four large gilded bronze sculptures of the Buddha depicting a key event in his life.
On our visit we met up with Reverend Gyoro Nagase who helped to construct the Pagoda and who the serves the Pagoda daily, living close by in his temple in Battersea Park itself. Reverend Gyoro kindly gave us a brief talk on the movement which primarily involves its followers chanting a mantra; Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō and beating hand drums while whilst undertaking peace walks throughout the world promoting peace and non-violence. On 9 August, Nagasaki Day, Reverend Nagase will go on a Peace walk from Westminster Abbey to the Battersea Pagoda to commemorate all the victims of war. As we left, we reflected on the words of Mahatma Gandhi:
“The moral to be legitimately drawn from the supreme tragedy of the bomb is that it will not be destroyed by counter-bombs, even as violence cannot by counter-violence. Mankind has to get out of violence only through non-violence. Hatred can be overcome only by love.”
Students comment about the trip.
“Great experience not only for learning but socialising with classmates.”
“Really fun and educational.”
“Helpful in consolidating knowledge and very enjoyable.”
“Very interesting people and places.”