Religious Forum Special / News

Buddhists from across world discuss closer ties

By YUAN SHENGGAO |  China Daily |  Updated:2024-04-02

Subforum on religious harmony reaches key agreements

Top Buddhist monks and religious leaders from seven nations gathered in South China's Hainan province on Friday to exchange insights into contemporary challenges and fostering collective progress through the mutual exchange of civilizations.

In the Subforum on Religious Harmony and Mutual Learning among Civilizations, a key component of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2024, influential leaders advocated for unity among Buddhist communities from diverse nations. They emphasized the need to establish consensus and harness the unique strength and wisdom of Buddhism in the pursuit of global peace.

The subforum has garnered attention from representatives of major world religions, Nobel Prize-winning scientists, experts in Chinese studies, media magnates and other guests from various fields across the globe since its inception in 2015. Notably, this year marks the first time in which the subforum has taken the form of a roundtable dialogue.

Yan Jue, president of the Buddhist Association of China, one of the event hosts, made his inaugural appearance at the subforum, emphasizing China's significant role in the worldwide promotion of Buddhism.

"Chinese Buddhists have, through the large-scale translation of scriptures, elucidation of Buddhist thought, establishment of sects, institutional innovation and cultural integration, embodied the original intention of the Buddha, inherited the essence of Buddhism, enhanced the compatibility of Buddhism with East Asian cultures, civilizations, societies and people, and promoted the spread of Buddhism to countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam," Yan said.

He pointed out in the speech that the Chinese Buddhist community is willing to advance peaceful coexistence, mutual respect and win-win cooperation among countries around the world.

Yin Shun, vice-president of the association, is one of the initiators of the subforum and moderator of the round-table forum.

He highlighted that the objective of the event is to unite the efforts of Buddhist communities from different countries, delve into the history of interactions within global Buddhism, leverage the wisdom of Buddhism to address global challenges, share responsibilities and attain mutual success.

The theme of the religious subforum is "Flow of Dharma to the East and Thousands of Miles of Fellowship: Confronting Challenges and Achieving Mutual Growth Through the Wisdom and Compassion of Buddha".

Kobayakawa Kodai, abbot of Meikyozan Daichoin Temple of Soto Zen and a permanent researcher at the Soto Zen Comprehensive Research Center, briefly introduced the history of Soto Zen in Japan, which could be traced back to about 800 years ago and revered the Cien Temple in Dahong mountain in Central China's Hubei province, where Yin Shun serves as the abbot, as its ancestral temple.

"In different times and places, many people have accepted and inherited it, that's why we have Buddhism as it is today. It is extremely important to respect each other's history and traditions," he noted.

Mu Ae, chairman of the Acharya Review Committee at the Education Institute of Jogye Order and a member of the Sangha Examination Council of Jogye Order, also briefly reviewed the 1,700-year history of Buddhist doctrinal exchange between South Korea and China.

The annual regular exchange visits for practitioners from South Korea and China have been restarted since late 2023 after a halt caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

"We look forward to expanding our existing friendly exchanges to actively include exchanges among young people and university student exchanges, exchanges among lay believers and more between China, South Korea and Japan in the near future. This will allow us to share the values of the future of Asia and build a platform for peaceful coexistence," he said.

Thich Duc Thien, vice-president and secretary-general of the Executive Council of Vietnam Buddhist Sangha, affirmed his organization's commitment to deepening cooperation with Chinese Buddhism. This cooperation would encompass Buddhist education, academic exchanges, Buddhist scripture translation, as well as extensive collaboration in the realms of meditation and the preservation of Buddhist cultural heritage.

Kirinde Assaji, deputy chief high prelate of Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka, emphasized the commitment of Buddhists in China and Sri Lanka to engage in dialogue and consensus-building.

He envisioned these efforts as a means to witness new insights, pursue new initiatives and forge new friendships that transcend cultural boundaries, enriching the shared Buddhist heritage.

Chen Ruifeng, chairman of the China Religious Culture Communication Association, one of the event hosts, delivered a concluding address.

He stressed the positive significance of Buddhist culture's teaching concepts, particularly compassion, peace and harmony, in addressing the common challenges confronting humanity. He suggested strengthening communication and deepening international Buddhist exchanges and cooperation.

According to Chen, the association will support the Chinese Buddhist community in strengthening connections with Buddhist communities in other Asian countries and around the world through activities such as ancestral site preservation, pilgrimage, commemorating eminent ancestors, establishing friendly temples, and exchanging student monks for mutual learning.

He expressed his hope that the wisdom of Buddhism, through dialogues, exchanges and collaborations, could be used to eliminate estrangement, resolve conflicts and eradicate disputes, contributing to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.


From left: Yan Jue, president of the Buddhist Association of China. Guests to the Subforum on Religious Harmony and Mutual Learning among Civilizations, a key component of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2024, held in Hainan province on Friday. Chay Borin (right), head of the Ministry of Culture and Religion of Cambodia, is a special guest at the subforum and walks into the venue with Bour Kry, great supreme Patriarch of Dhammayutta Order of Cambodia. CHINA DAILY


Buddhist monks and religious leaders discuss at the Subforum on Religious Harmony and Mutual Learning among Civilizations held in Hainan province on Friday, a key component of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2024. CHINA DAILY

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