For peace to exist: The multifaith forum

Short Talks From Venerable Master Chin Kung

Last November, I participated in the Multi Faith Forum near Brisbane, Australia. The forum is com prised of leaders of various local religious organizations. They meet once a month and their main goal is to help society learn how to live in peace and harmony. They strive to learn how to resolve misunderstandings among the different religious, racial and cultural groups, how to achieve mutual cooperation and respect and how to honor their similarities and differences. This will in turn ensure a flourishing country and a peaceful world. 

There is an increasing need for this cooperation now that Australia has eased their requirements for immigration. As a result it is developing a society of greater diverse culture, a society with more differences. The government strongly shares the concern of the Multi Faith center to have a harmonious society. Actively hopes to expand this idea to spread peace and harmony throughout Australia. We were very happy to have witnessed this and hope that this idea and method will spread throughout our world. Today, everywhere in this world, no matter which region or country, there are diverse cultures. There is a need to learn how to peacefully live together, a need for education.

I told them that Buddhism is an education of diverse cultures. It is flexible not fixed. It adapts to local customs and conditions to be in harmony with the existing ways of teaching. Three thousand years ago, when Buddha Shakyamuni lived in India, there were diverse cultures. The caste system was com prised of four levels. Additionally, the sutras tell us that there were ninety-six different religions at that time. Now, in this area of Australia there are only ten different religions.   

The most important thing now is for everyone to establish a common consensus, to share a common goal. Why? To have a peaceful world we must for get our differences and search for the common ground. Temporarily put aside our differences, strengthen and praise our similarities. There is the need to get along with each other.

We need to learn to be observant and tactful. Not only when educating beings but also when interacting with others. Todo this well we need to know their character, their nature. Following our own thoughts and disregarding tact and our own observations when interacting with others results in misunderstandings, thus creating obstacles in our lives. By reading the sutras we learn that the beings in the Buddhalands live lives of serenity and joy. All these beings represent an infinite and inconceivable range of sentient beings. The Western Pure Land also consists of an infinite number of diverse beings. Many have not yet completely severed their afflictions so how are they able to coexist peacefully? Due to the spiritual ability of Buddha Amitabha.

How does Buddha Amitabha achieve this? The spiritual ability of Buddha Amitabha is the loving kindness, the compassion and kindness that arise from his mind of purity, equality and awakening. Using these same virtues to interact with others enables different kinds of beings to dissolve misunderstandings among those of different beliefs, different cultures and different species. Reciting sutras, listening to talks on Buddhism, practicing the teaching will enable us to live harmoniously together.

We need to understand that everything in the infinite space and beyond is just one entity, we are one, not many. Enlightened ones know that the infinite space and beyond is our home. As the Chinese sage Lao-tze said, “Heaven, earth and I share the same root. All the infinite things and I are of one entity”.

Lecturing daily, enabling beings to thoroughly understand the truth will help to decrease different views, help to reduce conflicts. The entirety of the Buddha’s education meshes harmoniously all of our diverse cultures. It teaches us to reach unconditional mutual respect, to harbor compassion and cooperation, to coexist harmoniously and to honor each other and our differences.

Buddha Shakyamuni taught us how to achieve the goal of peaceful coexistence and the shared richness of diverse cultures. As I introduced Buddhism to these religious leaders, I addressed them all as Bodhisattvas, awakened beings who want to help the sentient beings of the twenty-first century to be free from suffering, hardship and unhappiness.

The Buddha told us that Bodhisattvas will mani fest in whatever forms necessary to educate us. During this twenty-one day visit to Australia I have met many Bodhisattvas. They have laid aside their differences to nurture and enhance the similarities that we all share. From this foundation we can extend this idea to society, helping that society to achieve peace, prosperity and world peace. We hope the people from different racial, cultural and religious backgrounds can all help and cooperate with each other, existing joyfully together in sharing the richness of our diverse heritages.

I hope all those who truly have the aspiration of saving this world will use this institution to nurture their aspirations. Those who have the great heart to be able to tolerate all sorts of different cultures, racial differences and religious beliefs, who are able to engage in this harmonizing work, are truly worthy of our respect. This aspiration is very hard to come by, very rare. To achieve their goal they are now preparing to build a Multi Faith center at Griffith University.

The Multi Faith center is rightfully highly regarded as an important starting point in Australia. They thought about the solution to the problem and implemented it. I believe that there is a similar need in other regions and countries. I hope that the center will be a good role model and succeed in introducing to visitors from the rest of the world, the understanding that can help resolve the conflicts in the world, to safeguard world peace and harmony.