Religious Forum Special / News

Chinese Buddhist master keen on improving mutual learning among civilizations

By Yuan Shenggao |  China Daily |  Updated:2023-04-04

Communication, mutual learning and inclusiveness are the solutions to improve harmony among different civilizations, said a Chinese Buddhist master.

"We all wish to promote global peace and hold onto our original aspirations in an uncertain world. Never forget why we started and keep our mission in mind," said Master Yinshun, vice-president of the Buddhist Association of China, president of the Buddhist Association of Hainan and the great monk of several temples in China and one in Nepal.

As one of the initiators, the master has participated in all the sessions of the religious subforum of the Boao Forum for Asia, with a goal of building a community with a shared future for mankind, since its commencement in 2015.

The religious subforum was set up in the economy-oriented BFA because culture comes first in social development, the master said. "Religious culture can play a unique role in helping to build a spiritual bridge for people of all countries and regions."

The subforum this year was titled "Inclusiveness and Coexistence: Striving for a New Level of Mutual Learning Among Civilizations" and was held on Friday.

"It is our common pursuit and spirit to embrace inclusiveness and harmony through cultural exchanges," Yinshun said, "for civilizations, communication transcends barriers, mutual learning transcends conflicts, coexistence transcends solitary superiority."

The subforum consolidates the humanistic foundation of a community with a shared future for mankind, on which all civilizations can jointly achieve a new level of mutual learning and common prosperity, according to the master.

He mentioned that there were collisions and fusions among different religions in history. "Harmony in diversity is a key characteristic of Chinese culture," Yinshun said. "Regardless of their differences, communications and mutual learning has enabled all religions to enrich and improve their system and to blossom in a better way."

In an internet-dominated world, where almost everyone becomes reliant on their phones and the web, the master is seeking a way to ensure that Buddhism advances with the times in contributing to the society and its people.

"First, we need to keep optimizing our management system with time. Second, enhance our ability to respond to cultural changes and third, strive to work together for an ideal world in the ever-changing times, and to bring Buddhism into the present," Yinshun said.

He launched the South China Sea Buddhism Shenzhen Roundtable in 2016, which has been seen as an important platform for safeguarding regional peace and common development, as well as promoting cultural exchange and mutual learning in the region.

Buddhist representatives and guests from 18 countries and regions, including China, Cambodia, Thailand, Mongolia and Japan attended last year's roundtable in Shenzhen, which was held in December, both online and on-site.

They signed a pact during the conference to advocate more extensive cooperation in terms of culture and education, healthcare, charity and environmental protection.

Also in the conference, the compiling of the China Buddhism Dictionary was officially launched. It will be popular and easy to understand but under a rigorous framework. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence technology will be used to implement automatic sorting and screening of candidate terms and corresponding interpretations, according to the master.

"Scholars from some prestigious universities in China have joined our compiling team," Yinshun said.

He also founded the Nanhai Buddhism Academy in Sanya, Hainan province, an institute of higher education specializing in religious studies, which was officially approved by the State Administration for Religious Affairs. It began enrolling undergraduates in 2017 and postgraduates in 2021.

It is also open for students from abroad. So far, hundreds of students, including those from Cambodia, Mongolia and Laos have graduated from the academy.


Master Yinshun, vice-president of the Buddhist Association of China CHINA DAILY


From left: Main entrance to the Nanhai Buddhism Academy in Sanya, Hainan province. Chen Ruifeng (center), head of the National Religious Affairs Administration, poses with other guests at a subforum on religion during the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2023. An aerial view of the Nanshan Temple. CHINA DAILY

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