Venerable Master Chin Kung
President of Pure Land Learning College
Honorary Professor of the University of Queensland And Honorary Professor of the Griffith University
At UNESCO International Conference on
“Education for Shared Values for Intercultural and Interfaith Understanding”
29 November, 2004
It is my great pleasure and honor to be invited to this conference to speak on the topic of: “Major issues and challenges in addressing the need for intercultural and interfaith understanding through education and shared values.”
In this severely chaotic world in which we are living, conscientious people like you working together to save the world is like a dawning of a new morning, giving hope to all people. I greatly appreciate this opportunity to share my humble views.
I would like to talk about how to resolve conflicts and promote collaboration among diverse cultures and faiths, and ways to implement the education for shared values for intercultural and interfaith understanding in today’s world. I deeply feel that the answers to this question are crucial to the survival of humanity and well-being of this world in the 21st century.
I. The Root Cause of Conflicts
The current times that we are living in are the times with unprecedented unrest, and with conflicts between nations, religions, and ethnic groups. What is the root cause of these unrest, conflicts, and confrontations?
In my view, the root cause lies in our inner minds. There are conflicts between our self-nature and habits. Nature is referred to what Confucianism says “human’s innate nature is complete kindness” (人之初，性本善). The self-nature is pure kindness. The habits are contaminated by various self-benefiting viewpoints and knowledge acquired in our societies. Put it simpler, this is the conflict between altruism and selfishness. At the micro levels of society, this conflict is expressed in discordances between husbands and wives, between parents and children and between siblings. In the wider society, it is manifested in negative relationships between governments or leaders and ordinary citizens, or between employers and employees, or between institutions/organizations and the public. These discordances and disputes bring about negative effects and harm to societies and the world.
Therefore, to resolve conflicts, we should start with resolving the contradictions and confrontations within our own mind, letting go of selfishness, and letting go of the ideas and behaviour of controlling and appropriating people, matters and objects. This is the ultimate method of resolving all conflicts in the world. The notion that conflict resolution is related to resolving confrontations within our inner mind is based on both Buddhist scriptures and scientific evidence. The most famous Buddhist scripture, The Avatamsaka Sutra (also known as the Flower Adornment Sutra), says: “We should observe the nature of the universe. All are created by mind.” (《華嚴經》中說：「應觀法界性，一切唯心造」). Another famous Buddhist scripture Surangama Sutra says: “All phenomena are reflections of the mind. All causes and effects, from large worlds to tiny dusts, are created by mind…All phenomena are creations of mind.” (《首楞嚴經》中說：「諸法所生，唯心所現。一切因果，世界微塵，因心成體。」…「一切法從心想生」). These true sayings indicate that all matters and objects are the creations of our mind. Our thoughts affect the outer phenomena. This is a very profound truth which has been clarified in detail in the teachings of Buddhism. For example, if our mind is kind, we will often have good dreams. If our mind is evil, we will often have nightmares. All phenomena such as people, mountains, rivers, and all other aspects of existence in our dreams are created by our mind.
Modern science has begun to explore and prove this point. For example, Dr. Masaru Emoto in Japan has been investigating the nature of water for ten years. His research supported the notion that the true nature of the universe lies within the virtue of love and gratitude. He found that human consciousness can change the shape of water crystals. Kind thoughts and goodwill can make the water crystals look beautiful and wholesome; Evil thoughts and viciousness make the water crystals look ugly and nasty. For instance, a scientist affixed the words of ‘peace’ and ‘war’ to two different glasses of water for a while and then observed the water crystals with microscopes. It is found that the water crystals with the word ‘peace’ affixed turned out to be very beautiful and the water crystals with the word ‘war’ affixed appeared to be ugly and miserable. Dr. Emoto recently shared his scientific findings in a presentation at the United Nations in New York, USA this year. The groundbreaking finding that human consciousness can affect the environment not only triggers the new ideas that purification of the environment should start with purification of human mind, but also presents to peace builders some far-reaching implications for transformation.
The inner mind affects all external phenomena. Thus, to change our mind can change the environment. The Pure-Land Buddhist practitioners focus on the practice of purity of mind. Purity of mind leads to purity of body, purity of action, and thereby purity of the environment. For this reason, it was stressed, only by resolving the conflicts, discontentments, and disputes within our mind and authentically following up with practices and action that truly express love and gratitude for all living beings and its physical environment, can we attain external peace, peace of families, socieities and the universe. This rational is based on the Buddhist teaching that we are all part of one single living entity.
Similarly, the ancient saints and sages in China used this very notion to teach the people to guide their lives and to govern the country. Confucians put forward the teaching of “maintaining sincere mentality, protecting our faultless mind, cultivating ourselves, then educating our family, followed by governing the country, and ultimately, making peace of the world.” To attain the harmony of families and communities, stability of countries, the peace of the world, one should start with cultivating oneself, maintaining a faultless mind and sincere mentality. However, self-cultivation cannot remain only at the personal or individual level. It needs to lead to action that transforms inter-personal relationships from micro to macro levels of life in ways that promote the well-being of all other peoples and communities. Otherwise, cultivation will remain self-centered, benefiting only oneself or at most one’s family.
Self-cultivation also requires a capacity to be humble and to engage in self-criticism. One is reminded here of Emperor Tang of the Shang Dynasty in ancient China, who proclaimed that “if all my people are at fault, all faults are mine.” He believed that if the country was not governed well, it was his own fault. He then reflected upon himself and improved himself. As a consequence, the country at the time was peaceful.
Therefore, we should also make a change to our previous mentalities. If we always think that we are correct and others are wrong, conflicts and oppositions will never be resolved. We should change the attitude and think others are correct. We need to look at the goodness of others while thinking we are wrong. Then we can always correct our own mistakes and make progress. As Zhuang Zi, the Taoist master in China said: “all merits lie with others and all faults lie with me.”
In today’s contemporary world order, this insight and wisdom needs be heeded by especially powerful states and leaders, and other groups that may be struggling to gain power. Otherwise, policies and decisions will be made on the basis of the fallacy that one nation or coalition of nations is always “right” and “good”, while others are deeply “evil”, and hence require “correction”, using force if necessary. This approach can only lead to more conflicts and chaos.
II. Conflict Resolution Must Rely on Education
The fundamental reason of today’s world unrest stems from the inner confrontations and conflicts within the mindset of human beings when people temporarily lose their inherent nature and intrinsic kindness. Therefore, only when human is awakened to this truth can conflicts be ultimately resolved.
Awakening relies on learning the teachings about the truth of the universe which includes:
1) The relationships among people,
2) The relationships between people and their living environment, and
3) The relationships between people and all beings in multiple dimensions of existence.
These three relationships contain the order of nature, and are called “Tao” (the Way) by ancient Chinese. For example, the relationships of parents and children, husband and wife, siblings, the leaders and the subordinates, and among friends are the “Tao” of being human. Being able to fulfil these five relationships well is referred to as the Virtue. Reciprocity should underpin all of these relationships. Hence, all parents should love their children, and children should be filial and equally loving to their parents. Husbands and wives should respect and love each other. Siblings should live in harmony. Leaders should be kind to their subordinates, and the subordinates should be loyal to the leaders. Friends should be mutually trustworthy and caring.. These are the moral principles and virtues. Chinese saints summarized twelve principles of virtues, namely:
Filial piety, fraternal love, loyalty, trustworthiness, courtesy, righteousness, honesty, honour, humanity, love, harmony and equality.
If everyone learns to practice these principles, the world will be naturally be at peace. Thus, the most effective method of resolving conflicts and stabilizing societies is to implement religious education for the formation and practice of these virtues.
Confucius has stressed that all people are innately good. This is the very first philosophy of education that should be affirmed. “Bad” qualities and characteristics of a person are acquired after birth. One must rely on sages’ teachings to clean up the inner pollution, avoid badness, and protect the innate goodness of human nature. Education can turn malevolent people into good ones, enemies into friends, hated foes into close brothers and sisters, deluded people into awakened beings, and ordinary people into sages. Chinese ancient saints and sages taught us that “education is essential to building a nation and governing its people.” Education is a priority strategy and process for establishing a nation and for guiding citizens.
More specifically, the education of virtues has four modes:
1) family education,
2) academic education,
3) social education and
4) religious education or education for faith and spirituality.
While family education provides the foundation, religious or faith and spirituality education completes this holistic paradigm of education. These four educations form the education of morality and virtues that the ancient Chinese taught their descendents. Throughout history and the world, all teachings of various saints and sages and of the religious scriptures taught moral education, which is following the natural rules of our world. Similarly, the teachings of the Buddha, Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammad and many founders and prophets of faiths all confirm the indispensable role of education deeply rooted in the many common values that are found in diverse faiths and spirituality traditions. These include values such as love, compassion, forgiveness, reconciliation, honesty, respect and peace.
When all four modes or dimensions of education are well implemented, people will be happy, societies will be stable, and the world will be at peace. If we neglect these four modes of education, serious conflicts will undoubtedly continue to escalate causing chaos and great suffering to all humanity.
Regrettably, when the present state of educational systems and processes, whether informal, formal or non-formal, across the world is examined, there are disturbing signs of imbalances and weaknesses. Dominant sectors of family education, academic education, and social education in the modern world are invariably neglecting or abandoning ethics and virtues. There is now an over-emphasis on the learning of scientific techniques and knowledge, while the goal, content and techniques of modern education are also imbued by the ideology of over-materialism and consumerism.
In my view, religious education or education for faith and spirituality is urgently needed to propagate loving-kindness, peace and respect for all beings of the world. Religious education teaches us to believe in God and his teachings, to believe in the principles and facts of cause and effect. Conscientious people who want to save the world from pending disasters must restore religious education urgently to gradually revive the teaching of morality and virtues in family, school, and social education which can encourage people to solve social problems and eradicate the social unrest.
In this regard, as the famous English historian Dr. Arnold Toynbee said in his influential article “The Genesis of Pollution” published in 1973 (in Horizon, Volume 15, No. 3, summer issue, pp.4-9.), “the founders of the less crude religions and philosophies have perceived that the nature of divinity is not power but love, benevolence, and humanity. The Buddha, the Bodhisattvas, and Christ stand not for the exercise of power but for self-abnegation and self-sacrifice. Confucianism and Shinto stand for a harmonious co-operation between man and nature; Taoism for letting nature takes her course. Surely the Weltanschauung that follows from these more perceptive and less aggressive religious and philosophical traditions is the one that now offers the most promising hope of salvaging mankind.”
III. Traditional Chinese Moral and Virtue Education
To clarify my ideas on education for morality and virtues, I would like to now briefly introduce as one exemplar or model the education system which had been so influential in China since the time of Emperor Yao and Shun forty-five hundred years ago. This form of education kept ancient Chinese society in a relatively stable state for this long period of time. However, for the past two hundred years, Chinese people gradually neglected this old form of education system in favour of a more scientific and technological education methods that had been offered by the West.
(1) The aim of ancient Chinese teachings
The aim of ancient Chinese teachings was to advocate the importance of being a moral and upstanding member of the society. The standard for being such a person was to understand how to care, respect, help and love others. However, for the past century, due to technological advances in the West, scientific progress has been seen as vastly more important than moral values Hence these moral teachings have been largely ignored. Competition against each other in advancement and innovation in all areas led to conflicts of interest. Eventually conflicts turned into war. We see modern society grew complacent in hearing tragic news such as father and sons killing one another, murders between husbands and wives. When societies and the world have evolved to our present condition, one must carefully consider the merit of competition versus moral values and virtues. If technological and economic advances were directed by persons of high moral and virtue, they would have utilised their wisdom in accord with the natural path of our living environment. Those without moral and virtue would disregard any damage that will result from the various exploits of technological implementations. The imbalance of Earth’s ecosystem that has been causing havocs across the world is the result of human-made decisions. We have to contemplate on these consequences.
(2) The content of ancient Chinese teachings
The ancient Chinese (like many indigenous communities and diverse traditions worldwide) started educating their young as soon as they began to walk and talk. Children are taught to respect and care for everyone and everything. This education of love asked that everyone exercise humility to others. Always harbour thoughts that would benefit all people. Competition had no place in this education system. It is entirely different from modern education that teaches people to be concerned about personal right (without a corresponding sense of responsibility), privacy and individual gains. The teaching of Confucianism emphasised that “We do not do to others what we do not want others do to us.” One then would always be considerate of others’ well-being with each of one’s though and actions. . This is how an education of love was actualised. There were ample ancient Chinese teaching materials for young children. The booklet titled, “The Standard for Being a Good Student and Child” was a landmark example. This booklet was complied based on the famous Song dynasty scholar Mr. Chu Shi’s book, “Essential knowledge for Children”. With over four thousand years of experiences, this paradigm of Chinese education theory provides us with us a reference to reflect on the importance of promoting educational systems that deeply integrates values.
We could simplify this comparison as utilitarianism versus altruism. Utilitarianism provokes competition and even conflicts while altruism emphasise helping others and paying less attention to self, so there is no room for conflicts. Modern society urge parents to love their children but when children grew up, they do not necessarily love their parents. Traditionally, Chinese society educates their children to love and care for their parents and respecting their teachers. Here we can see a vast difference between the two systems.
(3) The foundation of ancient Chinese teachings
The essence of traditional Chinese education relies on the affirmation of the innate goodness of human nature. All negativities that contaminated the minds were the result of acquired habit later in life. In traditional education, there is not a single evil person in the world. There is only “bad” or a lack of education. Therefore, education must start at young age, teaching this fundamental knowledge such as love for parents, respect for teachers, harmony between couples, caring between parents and children, love between brothers and sisters, and loyalty between leader and citizens, and trustworthiness between friends.
The five thousand years of Chinese traditional education can be summarized in the Figure below:
How Chinese Ancestors Taught Their Children (4500 years ago)
Presently, traditional moral education is regaining recognition in China. On January 2001, the former CCP chairman Mr. Jiang Zemin pronounced the importance of “ruling with moral and virtue”. At the beginning of 2004, CCP chairman Mr. Hu Jintao asked to improve and better establish the youth moral and virtue education. Under these guidance, the “Love and Humility” Children Learning Center in Hai Ko, China, started its mission to promote the return of the values of morality and virtue. Started on October 2003, teachers from this Centre toured China and gave over three hundred lectures on Chinese traditional moral and virtue education in all part of the nation. Many people were invigorated and astounded by their teachings. Many audiences started their search for a positive solution in life after listening to these awareness-awakening lessons. People from all age group responded positively to these tried-and-used traditional teachings. Invitations for their teachings that spoke of innate goodness and morality are being made from diverse parts of Chinese society.
IV. All Religions Should Cooperate to Promote the Education of Loving-kindness and Peace
Originally all religions and faith traditions were forms of multicultural social education. We identify Buddhism as a multicultural social education because Buddha Shakyamuni had taught all regardless of their cultures, nationalities, “races”, castes, and social positions. As long as they were willing to accept the teachings, the Buddha accepted them as his students. Everyone studied together and was treated equally. Therefore, Buddhism is considered as a multicultural social education.
Other religions, such as Islam and Christianity, also teach people regardless of their social and economic differences.. No religion limits of its teachings to people in only one country or to only one race; it propagates its teachings to the whole world. Therefore, all religions are a multicultural social education.
The scriptures of all religions emphasize the teaching of loving-kindness and peace. For example, the Quran says “Allah is indeed loving and merciful to all people in this world.” It also says “You shall be dutiful to your parents, live in harmony with your kinfolk, and speak kind words to others.”
It is repeatedly stated in the Old and New Testaments that God loves all people. Buddhism says that “Compassion is the essence” and that “do only the good and refrain from doing the bad.” Thus, all religions use “Compassion, Loving-kindness, Harmony, and Equality” as their guiding principle of teaching. They all teach people to respect one another, to live in harmony, and to treat all people equally regardless of nationalities or races. The “Golden Rule” earlier mentioned is manifested in diverse traditions.
Therefore, all religions are really the education of peace and loving-kindness. All the religious texts reflect broad-mindedness. Buddhists say “The mind is as broad as the universe.” It is not God’s will or the aspiration of religious teachings that we be concerned only with ourselves and belittles others. Rather, this is only the will of certain individuals.
If followers of a religion do not study the scriptures of that religion and do not implement the teachings in daily life, then their beliefs in this religion are deluded. There is no delusion in religion. The nature of religious education is therefore in theory good. Religious education aims to help all beings. Thus, we should not be misled by the external forms of religious but should absorb and propagate the elite of religious scriptures.
Everyone asks the same questions: How was the universe formed? Where did life come from? How was the world created? Where do space, the Dharma realms, all the lands, and the sentient beings mentioned in Buddhism come from? Who created them?
The teachings of many religions say that God created everything. The creator is God, and there is only one true God in the universe. While, different religions or faiths use different names, I believe they are talking about the same God. Even though Buddhism uses the term “Dharma Nature” (also called the “Truth”) instead of God. there is the saying in the Avatamsaka Sutra “Manifested by the mind and altered by the consciousnesses.” The mind and the consciousness mentioned here are True Nature and are in my view equivalent to God and Allah in other religions.
Thus I firmly believe that different religions are created in different forms and taught through different methods by the same God. The different manifestations of God are for the convenience of teaching and accommodating people from different areas or cultures, and of different abilities.
When we study all the religious scriptures, we will find considerable common ground of shared values and principles. They all teach people to refrain from wrongdoing and to cultivate good deeds; to end delusion and attain enlightenment; and to transform from an ordinary person to a sage or saint. From this perspective, we will realize that there is only one true God (Dharma Nature or Truth). Increasingly, the growth of inter-faith dialogue movements at local, national and international levels such as the World Conference on Religions and Peace, the parliament of the World’s Religions and the United Religions Initiative, are demonstrating that diverse religions and faiths can learn to share their respective knowledge and wisdom and many common values and virtues for cooperative action for world peace.
I have myself been involved in inter-dialogue initiatives in Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, and China, and the outcomes have been very fruitful. During a recent visit of an official Indonesian inter-faith delegation to Al Azhar University in Cairo and the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue at the Vatican, which I was able to join as an honorary adviser to the Indonesian delegation, it was most encouraging to see representatives of diverse faiths growing in respect, understanding and harmony with one another. In turn, I am hopeful there will be a positive impact on building intercultural and inter-faith harmony in Indonesia. The vision and programs of the Griffith University Multi-Faith Centre likewise shows that diverse faith communities and spirituality traditions society can dialogue and collaborate with each other to build a more peaceful, just, sustainable and multi-cultural society locally and internationally.
Therefore, different religions can unite to cooperate to teach their followers to cultivate the virtues of sincerity, purity of mind, non-discrimination, loving-kindness, and peace; to accept, respect, love, and trust one another; to care for and cooperate with one another. Together, this is the mission and responsibility of every religious worker and every peace-builder. We should make every effort to move towards this goal. Then disasters will be avoided, world peace and stability achieved, and happiness will indeed prevail.
V. Suggestions of Implementing the Education of Loving-Kindness and Peace
Real and persistent peace can only be realized through the holistic education of values, morality and virtues as suggested in this paper — education which can turn malevolent people into good ones, enemies into friends, hated foes into close siblings, turn the deluded into the awakened, and ordinary people into sages. Religious or faith education should inspire family, school and social education and we should advocate the twelve principles of virtues of filial piety, fraternal love, loyalty, trustworthiness, courtesy, righteousness, honesty, honour, loving-kindness, love, harmony and equality.
In my opinion, the most cost-effective and efficient approach is to fully utilize the increasingly available information communications technology (ICT), such as satellite TV and the Internet. Furthermore, may I suggest the establishment of an “International University for Loving-kindness and Peace” as soon as possible in order to foster sustainable development of such education of loving-kindness and peace.
(1) My first suggestion is the setting up of a program called “The Great Forum of Loving-kindness and Peace” on satellite TV stations. Teachers would be selected and appointed by UNESCO or other international and national agencies to promote religious and faith education which empower learners to embrace and practice the principles of “Filial Piety, Fraternal Love, Loyalty, Trustworthiness, Courtesy, Righteousness, Honesty, Honour, Humanity, Love, Harmony and Equality,”. The program should be broadcast in four languages: English, Chinese, Spanish and Arabic. Other languages can be translated from these four. In the beginning, we can purchase time blocks, hopefully in prime time, from existing satellite television stations and broadcast our program one hour a day so that people from all over the world can watch it. Gradually we can increase the airtime. Ultimately, we should set up our own satellite television station to ensure 24-hour broadcasting of programs on the teaching of morality and peace. The lecturers should be selected by UNESCO from morally respected and learned elders and professors of various religions and universities across the world.
Should any country be interested in providing sponsorship, that country could provide a piece of land and build a recording studio complex with suitable accommodation facilities. The teachers and lecturers would be invited to the studio complex for one month to record their teachings, which would undergo censorship by UNESCO. The teachings that are considered to be of no threat to the stability of any society can be broadcast in four languages worldwide. We can start this stage immediately so as to provide materials for the satellite television program. I believe that we can see good results after one year of broadcasting.
I have been promoting the teachings of the Buddha for forty-six years. For the past two decades, with the help of many supporters, we have distributed numerous cassette tapes, video tapes, CDs and DVDs of lectures on the sutras. It was not until six years ago that I started to use the Internet. Last year, satellite television broadcasting was introduced. These means of communication have greatly benefited many Buddhist practitioners around the world. We have been quite successful in promoting the values education for peace and loving-kindness worldwide. Regarding distance education, apart from the Internet, we also have our own global satellite TV—Hwazan Satellite TV, which began to broadcast on January 1, 2003. This Satellite TV channel broadcasts the educational programs of Buddhism and traditional values of virtues and moralities. All of our educational initiatives are free for the public worldwide. Though we never advertise or solicit for donations, we have never encountered funding problems. This demonstrates that a vast number of people welcome and support the education for traditional values of loving-kindness and peace.
If UNESCO could promote distance learning using ICT, I believe that positive results achieved by UNESCO in one year will surpass what we have done over the past twenty years and contribute to the promotion of global security. After seeing these results, other countries will also wish to follow suit. People will return to their true nature of honesty and kindness, and social stability, economic prosperity, and world peace will prevail. These approaches are truly the answers to the prevention of world disasters. If these approaches can be implemented, you will be the angels of God and the saviours of this world.
Should UNESCO want to set up such an education program, I definitely will advertise it on the satellite television to help raise funds. I would like to provide ten hours of free broadcasting time each day on my satellite television station to the UN. I sincerely wish UNESCO could one day have its own global education satellite television station.
(2) Secondly, The undertaking of the global teachings is a long-term work, requiring qualified successors to carry it on. Thus, it is recommended that UNESCO establish a university to cultivate saints and sages. When they finish their studies, they should become the people of exemplary virtues and ethics.
This proposed university will offer educations from kindergarten all the way to research institutes of universities. Students can be nurtured to have a pure clean and virtuous morality from a very young age as well as acquire a wide range of knowledge. Only the best materials will be used for their learning and entertainment.
The teaching tenet is only two sentences, namely “to treat others with filial piety, fraternal love, loyalty, trustworthiness, and humanity; to coexist with others courteously, justly, honourably, and peacefully.” The students follow the teaching philosophy of “cultivating oneself, putting the family in order, governing the country properly, and making the world peaceful,” taking self-cultivation as the fundamental principle. The Great Learning of Confucianism says “From the emperor to an ordinary person, self-cultivation is the foundation.” In self-cultivation, people should be filial to parents in the family and have fraternal love for everyone in society; In addition, his words should be trustworthy, and his behavior should be sincere and respectful; In interacting with other people, he should follow the rules of “Do not do to others what you do not want to be done to you,” and “When our actions do not get the expected results, we should examine ourselves.” These rules are the same as the loving-kindness that Confucius taught. We should treat others the way we wish to be treated. From other diverse religious and faith traditions, likewise the learning in this proposed institute will draw on their values, principles, wisdom and knowledge to strengthen education for peace and sustainability.
The principle that “When our actions do not get the expected results, we should examine ourselves” teaches us to repent and mend our ways sincerely. I often remind my students that, when they are involved in a conflict, they should always try to admit that they are at fault and that others are right. This will make them to constantly strive to mend their ways and improve themselves. The History of Lu says that the foundation of all of one’s undertakings is self-cultivation, and that successful self-cultivation leads to successful governing of the country.
The teachings of the sages tell us that in society, regardless of our occupations, everyone has the mission to be a leader, a parent, and a role model. Anyone who wishes to attain virtues and succeed in a career in this lifetime needs to follow this principle. To be a leader is to take up leadership by making plans and guiding other people. To be a parent is to act like a parent by guiding and providing a good life for others. To be a teacher is to teach others and to be the good example for people. To be a leader, a parent, and a teacher is to embrace and practice the ancient saints and sages’ attitudes towards all people and matters.
Therefore, the students in this University should follow these teaching philosophies. They should start from cultivating themselves from within before teaching others. If this can be done, there is hope for world peace. Furthermore, the pedagogy fostered in the proposed University needs to be consistent with what peace educators have been emphasizing, namely that how peace is taught is just as important as the content. Hence, as the Laureate of the 2000 UNESCO Prize for Peace Education, Professor Toh Swee-Hin, proposed, education for peace needs to be based on the principles of holism, dialogue, values formation, and critical empowerment. Education for peace and loving kindness surely must be taught in peaceful and loving-kind ways.
The primary criterion for admission is the student’s morality. I believe that there must be many far-sighted parents who would like to send their children to this school for their education.
In order to guarantee the teaching quality, we need to consolidate the use of our human, financial, and material resources. It is not recommended to build other campuses for the time being. Scholarships and student loans can be provided to encourage talented students and help impoverished students to attend this University. We will provide our limited resources to help and support this great undertaking. We deeply believe that peace-lovers throughout the world will also extend their greatest support for this project. Then there will be hope for the world in the 21st century.
At the same time as this proposed University is established, UNESCO and all other like-minded agencies and institutions will also need to promote the transformation of their basic school systems from the earliest age. By integrating values, principles and virtues found in all their faiths and religions into the curriculum as well as culture of schools, societies will be educating the next generation of adult citizens oriented to the practice of loving-kindness and peace.
Not surprisingly, there are major challenges in implementing both of my proposals for action. As earlier noted, there is a strong culture of individualistic materialism and over-consumerism and an over-emphasis on science and technology in dominant educational systems and societies at large. But there are hopeful signs of projects and programs, many supported by UNESCO and civil society movements worldwide, that are making gradual progress in raising the awareness and commitment of learners from young to adult. These include education for peace, conflict resolution, sustainable development, multiculturalism and international understanding. Diverse faith communities and leaders are also contributing wisdom, resources and knowledge to such efforts. Let us therefore not be discouraged by the obstacles, but rather pursue our vision with patience and hope.
I am indeed fortunate to have this opportunity to offer my humble opinions on how to promoting and implementing educations for intercultural and interfaith understanding. Your reflections and sharing of ideas will be greatly appreciated. Ten thousand thanks!