World Buddhist Forum discusses building of world harmony 2009-03-28 13:32:43 Print

Backgrounder: World Buddhist Forum

The opening ceremony of the Second World Buddhist Forum (WBF) is held in Wuxi, east China's Jiangsu Province on March 28, 2009. (Xinhua/Wu Xiaoling) Photo Gallery>>>

WUXI, Jiangsu, March 28 (Xinhua) -- The Second World Buddhist Forum opened in this eastern Chinese city Saturday with more than 1,700 Buddhist monks and scholars from about 50 countries and regions gathering to discuss how Buddhism can contribute to building a harmonious world. "Buddhism is a religion boasting openness and tolerance. When he founded the religion, Buddha advocated his moral position -equality of all living beings as well as harmony and amicability," Du Qinglin, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told the opening ceremony of the forum in the gigantic Buddhist Palace at

Lingshan Mountain. "We anticipate that world Buddhist circles will carry forward the spirit of 'harmony and synergy', manifest the qualities of mercy and compassion, reclaim people's souls and promote harmonious coexistence between humans and nature, humans and society, among people and within each individual," said Du, who is also head of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

The 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, talks with Xu Jialu, former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China, before the opening ceremony of the Second World Buddhist Forum (WBF) in Wuxi, east China's Jiangsu Province on March 28, 2009.(Xinhua Photo) Photo Gallery>>>

He said the world faces the financial crisis, social contradictions, culture shock and environmental contamination. He added: "To persist in 'harmony and synergy' and co-create harmony, we are called upon to depend on the people's welfare, hold high the banner of human progress and create promising

conditions for world peace. "We should respect diversity on the basis of equal treatment, strengthen mutual understanding through communications and achieve common progress while making up for each other's deficiencies," he said. "The Chinese people have always unswervingly held high the banner of peace, development and cooperation, pursued a strategy of mutual benefit and win-win outcomes and actively developed international exchanges and cooperation," he said. They have also "positively participated in coping with the financial crisis, committed themselves to promoting world economic growth and the progress of human civilization and worked with people across the world for harmony, lasting peace and common prosperity," he added.

The 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, speaks during the opening ceremony of the Second World Buddhist Forum (WBF) in Wuxi, east China's Jiangsu Province on March 28, 2009. The Second WBF opened here on Saturday.(Xinhua/Han Yuqing) Photo Gallery>>>


forum, with the theme of "A harmonious world, a synergy of condition," was jointly organized by the Buddhist Association of China, the Buddha's Light International Association, the Hong Kong Buddhist Association, and the China Religious Culture Communication Association. Addressing the opening ceremony in English, The 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, said that this event fully demonstrates that China nowadays enjoys social harmony, stability and religious freedom. It also shows China is a nation that safeguards and promotes world peace. Extending his gratitude to the central government for the concern for and patronage to the forum, the Panchen Lama said, "This forum is convened in my country -- China, which has a Buddhist cultural tradition going back 2,000 years." The Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama are the most important religious figures in Tibet. The Panchen Lama said the rapid development of "external material science and technology, " or material civilization of the present world, brings about convenient facilities for people's lives. "But on the other hand, it also causes the environment degradation, growing disparity between the rich and the poor, financial crises, armed conflicts and wars, terrorist attacks and the like," the 19-year-old monk said. The living Buddha called on people in the modern world to do more beneficial deeds and serve others. "The reason for all the adversity lies in people's mind - many

people are deluded regarding the causes of suffering and happiness, feel discontent, lack of compassion," he said. "Sutras tell us: Good is rewarded with good, evil with evil. We should now guide and encourage people with the law of causality to serve others with beneficial deeds," he said. "Only if we carry forward the philanthropic moral spirit, will everyone be guided to do good, and not to harm others; can everyone bear love and mercy, benefit all sentient beings and protect the environment, so as to enable people to enjoy a harmonious and happy life," he added. Calling for achieving harmony among different Buddhism sects, he said, "different sects within Buddhism should respect each other and coexist in harmony," he said. "In order that Buddha Dharma can live on and flourish, we should foster more outstanding talents." Panchen Lama's English speech received applauses and appreciation from the participants in the forum. "The 11th Panchen Lama's wonderful English speech has joyfully shocked the Buddhist masters and cultural elites present at the forum," said Master Xue Cheng, vice president and secretary general of the Buddhist Association of China (BAC). "He has a good command of the Chinese, English and Tibetan languages." "The Buddhists from English-speaking countries who I talked with shortly after his speech have highly praised his English proficiency," said Xue. "His good command of English shows his endeavors and the care from the Chinese government," he added.

"Since English is an international language, the 11th Panchen Lama's speech in English this time will definitely impress the world," said Shi Yongxin, abbot of China's famed Shaolin Temple. "He appeared very mature and moderate," Shi added. "As far as I know, the 11th Panchen Lama learns the Tibetan language and Buddhism knowledge in a very assiduous way," said Jalsan, BAC Standing Member of Council of Directors. "Three years ago, he delivered his speech at the First World Buddhist Forum in Tibetan while now his English is very fluent," added Jalsan, also president of the Buddhist Association of Inner Mongolia. "It shows that he had made great progress." "I myself is a follower of the Tibetan Buddhism and we disciples of the Tibetan Buddhism pin great hopes on him," he said. "His English speech is very commendable," said Professor H. Abeygunawardena, Vice Chancellor of University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka. "His learning English embodies China's policy of religious freedom." "Since I do not speak Chinese and Tibetan, I'd prefer that he continues to deliver speech in English," he said. "So what get lost in translation will be minimized." After the morning session of the forum concluded, the Panchen Lama joined about 1,000 monks and believers in experiencing a traditional, unique ritual of eating lunch that was once observed by Chinese Buddhists in everyday life. The five-day forum will be held in two parts. The first part will be held from March 28 to 29 in Wuxi. The participants will move to

Taipei by four direct charter flights on March 30, where the second part of the forum will be held from March 31 to April 1. During the five-day event, the participants will discuss how to better preserve Buddhist music and the Tripitaka, considered the encyclopedia of Buddhist culture. They will also talk about the relationship between Buddhism and science, public welfare, environmental protection and other topics. Exhibits of Buddhist relics, porcelain, crafts, photos and calligraphy will be on display during the forum. The arrangement is viewed as another sign of improved relations between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. Buddhism was introduced into ancient China from India more than 2,000 years ago. The First World Buddhist Forum, with the theme "A harmonious world begins in the mind," was held in the eastern Chinese cities of Hangzhou and Zhoushan in 2006. Statistics published at that time showed around 100 million Chinese, or one in every 13 Chinese, are Buddhist followers. "This is the second time I came to China to attend the World Buddhist Forum, and I think China has really done a lot to promote Buddhism -- just look at the gigantic venue of the Buddha Palace," said Ven. Banagala Upatissa, president of the Mahabodhi Society of Sri Lanka. "It's an open forum with participants from around the world. I hope I can have extensive exchanges with others on a wide range of topics in the following days, especially the spread of Buddhism in

the world," he said.

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