Although he keeps a low profile, Rev. Zenji Nio has received favourable reviews by many of the world's top media from BBC and CBC to National Post, Hindustan Times, City TV and Times of India that called him "an international level thinker". Hitavada profiled Nio and Harvard Professor Queen as "world renown Buddhist experts - who travel the world promoting peace. When they speak, the world listens". As the Govt of India has made outreach to Buddhist nations a priority, Nio is uniquely equipped to assist as the only Indian-origin person with a presence in all Buddhist nations especially Japan. Nio is also the only person to have set a record at the Olympics & Paralympics for serving as Spiritual Coach to over 60 medalists! Further, Nio is the only Buddhist who has spoken alongside Indian leaders and ambassadors at events to celebrate official Indian Independence Day and Republic Day and will now work with the GOI on honouring Netaji and promoting Indo-Japan ties that helped Indian gain Swadhinta or Freedom from colonial rule.
Nio's oratorical skills have been praised by numerous Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, Royal Families, Ambassadors, Consul Generals and Padma Winners and have helped raise millions for India's poorest children. Nio is also the only Indian-origin person to have represented Buddhism at major events and forums on the world stage including United Nations linked events where he was described as a "major figure in the Buddhist world". He has lectured alongside 20 professors from major universities from Oxford and Harvard to Yale and Berkley, to Toronto to Tokyo, Korea, Beijing and Nagpur University where he delivered the Nitin Raut Memorial lectures on Bharat Ratna Babasaheb Ambedkar. Nio has also hosted major charitable galas alongside various Bollywood and Hollywood stars, Padma Winners and Olympic medalists and gave the Concluding speech for Ambedkar Jayanti before a record live audience of 2 million people at Deekshabhumi.
Here are some highlights: (Pl note, Nio does not endorse any political or religious ideology beyond Japanese Buddhism)
1] Invited to lecture at the National Museum of India alongside the world's top Buddhist scholars from Berkley and Tokyo to Hong Kong and Oxford. Spent time at Oxford in serious discussions with Buddhist experts on the way to bridge the gap between the monastery and the mainstream.
2] The only Westerner invited to give a keynote speech at Deekshabhumi before 2 million Indians during the biggest commemoration of India's most popular leader Babasaheb Ambedkar, the architect of India's Constitution. The event was attended by Buddhist monks from all nations - especially Japan. Nio also lectured on Ambedkar at the Nagpur University during his sojourn in India and was invited to meet many Cabinet Ministers interested in empowering Dalits and Untouchables including Ramdas Athawale and Nitin Raut.
3] Hosted major charity galas to raise millions for Indian charities praised by major Bollywood stars from Amitabh Bachchan to Anupam Kher and financed by producers of projects featuring Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif and the like.
4] Lectured on Buddhism at Nagpur University, University of Toronto, Korean University, George Washington University. Wilfred Laurier University among others and alongside top scholars from Harvard, Oxford and Berkley. Lectured on Indic civilization alongside Padma Shri Professor Subhash Kak at an event organized by IONS at the Samurai Center and with renowned Hindu expert T.S. Rukmini at the University of Toronto. Also lectured alongside distinguished experts like Bikram Lamba (Advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh) as well as eminent professors from Shantiniketan, Benaras University and the Heritage Council of India set up by the Minister of State for Culture and Tourism.
5] Cited as the first to address the issue of Kashmiri refugees at a mainstream platform in North America and lectured on the Buddhist heritage of Kashmir as well as the need for Hindus and Muslims to seek amity and cooperation at a Conference tweeted about by former Harvard Professor Subramanium Swamy and featuring a JNU visiting professor who worked with Professor Bob Thurman of Columbia University on the translation of Buddhist manuscripts.
6] Presented the largest ever exhibit on Gandhi at the Parliament of World's Religions - attended by Gandhi's last living protege Karunamayee who attended his prayer services in person.
7] Was the only person invited to speak at the Official Indian Independence Day event hosted by Ambassador Dinesh Bhatia. Has also lectured at several Official Republic Day events attended by major Diplomats and Cabinet Ministers. Nio has also delivered well-received speeches at other noted outfits including Canada India Foundation, Hindi Writer's Guild in association with ICCR, Chinmoy Mission, Vivekananda Institute and Vedic Centers of North America, Asia & Europe. (Please note: All speeches are strictly focussed on charitable fundraisers for India's poorest children, or highlighting India's Buddhist civilization, India-Japan ties, India's outreach to Buddhist nations, and the need to uphold amity and cooperation between all faiths, castes and communities. Nio does not endorse or promote any religious movement or ideology except strictly Japanese Buddhism as per the Shogun's Commandments).
1] The only motivational expert selected from North America for the Rio Summer Olympics and the only one selected from across the world for the Pyongchang Korea Winter Olympics where he served a record number of medalists.
2] Headed the Asian Wing at the Panam and Parapan American Games -- the largest sporting event ever held in North America.
3] Spoke on Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. alongside Civil Rights leader Gerald Durley, Pastor to President Obama.
4] Was the only non-American selected to deliver keynote speech at the Faith Council that liaisons with the White House, as well as at a special Buddhist Event in Washington attended by the Korean Ambassador and Advisors to President and Secretary Clinton.
5] Invited to eulogize the King of Thailand upon his death alongside top leaders of all Buddhist nations and scholars from George Washington University and Tokyo University.
Canada-Japan: (Pls note, Nio works with all political parties and leaders in a bipartisan and strictly humanitarian context).
1] Served as the Curator and organizer of the Samurai Exhibit -- dubbed the biggest ever Asian art Exhibit, sponsored by the Govt of Canada and inaugurated by Canada's Minister of Immigration and Citizenship and India's Additional Foreign Secretary -- and attended by the Governor General on behalf of the Queen as well as Japanese Diplomats. Received a special citation from the Parliament.
2] Delivered numerous speeches on Samurai culture and heritage attended and praised by Canada's Cabinet Ministers for Immigration, Finance, Defence, Citizenship, Women's Rights and more. Invited to meet 3 Prime Ministers in person.
3] Led and co-sponsored in the Samurai tradition the first International Multifaith Commemoration of the Holocaust -- widely covered by the National Post, City TV and the Toronto Star. Also the only person to represent Japan's support of Jews during the Holocaust at the Holocaust Education Week in association with the Holocaust Museum.
4] Served as a Founding Member and Chair of Media and Communications for the RCMP Commander's Diversity Council involving Canada's highest law enforcement officers from all divisions. The Samurai Foundation sponsored various projects for the same. Also selected by the Ministry of Justice to deliver & sponsor rehabilitation programs for prisoners.
5] Selected to deliver keynote speech at Queen's Park when Buddha Day was proclaimed by the Mayor of Toronto at an event organized by University of Toronto. Have delivered several speeches on Canada Day at University of Toronto and represented Buddhism at the North American Interfaith Network Conference.
6] Represented Japan at the Toronto Climate Change Summit and at the Official Commemoration of the Yazidi Genocide. Have also worked closely with Leaders of First Nations Peoples to improve the lives of victims of the Native American Genocide.
7] Represented Samurai Buddhism at 3 Cardinal's Dinners presented by the Pope's Advisors and at various Conferences by Intercultural Dialogue Institute, the top Muslim organization in Canada. Have lectured with Mayor John Tory and Mayor Frank Scarpitti on various occasions and events and honoured by them both. Joined Andrew Scheer and John Tory in delivering Ramadan Messages for the Muslim Community and Prime Minister Trudeau in a Conference of Faith and Community Leaders.
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