The Niwano Peace Foundation announced on Monday that Seon (Zen) master Pomnyun Sunim* (법륜스님), who has earned renown in his native South Korea and around the world for his insightful yet accessible Dharma talks and accolades for his far-reaching humanitarian activities as a socially engaged Buddhist, is the recipient of the 37th Niwano Peace Prize.
The prize, which will be formally presented on 3 June in Tokyo, has been awarded in recognition of the revered monk’s international humanitarian work, environmental and social activism, and his tireless efforts to build trust and goodwill between communities of different faiths and cultures, toward the goal of world peace. The Niwano Peace Prize takes the form of a certificate, a medal, and a cash award of ¥20 million (US$182,000).
Pomnyun Sunim “has demonstrated a long and broad commitment to advancing peace within a Buddhist framework, in partnership with those of other faiths,” particularly Christianity, the Niwano Peace Prize Committee said of the nomination. The committee members stated that they were also “impressed with his focus on work outside Korea, on behalf of those of other faiths,” including Muslims in Mindanao, in the Philippines; Hindus and other communities in India; and Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and Bangladesh. (Yonhap News Agency)
Pomnyun Sunim has founded numerous organizations, initiatives, and projects that are active across the world. Among them, Jungto Society, a volunteer-based community founded on the Buddhist teachings and expressing equality, simple living, and sustainability, is dedicated to addressing modern social issues that lead to suffering, including environmental degradation, poverty, and conflict. Join Together Society, an international aid organization, works to eradicate poverty and hunger through humanitarian relief and sustainable development. Pomnyun Sunim also works closely with the Thailand-based International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB).
Established by Nikkyo Niwano (1906–99), co-founder and the first president of the Rissho Kosei Kai Buddhist organization in Japan, the Niwano Peace Foundation was chartered in 1978 with the aspiration of working toward the realization of world peace. The foundation promotes research and other activities in fields such as education, science, culture, and philosophy. The foundation established the Niwano Peace Prize, which has been awarded annually since 1983, to recognize and encourage individuals and organizations that have furthered the cause of world peace by contributing significantly to inter-religious cooperation.
Past recipients include INEB founder and Thai social activist Sulak Sivaraksa, who won the award in 2011; Taiwanese nun Master Cheng Yen, founder of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, who was awarded the prize in 2007; and Cambodian monk and peace activist Ven. Maha Ghosananda, who won the award in 1998.
* Sunim is a Korean title of respect for senior Buddhist monastics.