Implementing Universal Education, Building World Peace — Address at the Closing Ceremony of UNESCO International Peace Conference 2019

Venerable Master Chin Kung AM
9 September 2019
UNESCO, Paris, France

Respected Ambassadors, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, warm greetings to you all.

The three-day UNESCO International Peace Conference is drawing to a close. The Conference invited leaders and ambassadors of UNESCO and experts and scholars of various disciplines. In their speeches they all shared their wisdom, and demonstrated the social influence of the universal education of ethics, morality, causality and love in different faiths and traditional culture towards lasting world peace and harmony . Through exchanging ideas and mutual learning, we have developed stronger faith in the extraordinary importance of this type of universal education.

During the Conference we also held the Global Ancestral Remembrance Ceremony and the Thrice Yearning Ceremony, which enabled us to feel the compassionate and tireless protection and guidance of our ancestors, sages, Buddhas and bodhisattvas. They encouraged us to practise and hand down their teachings. On behalf of the Association, I would like to humbly express my sincere gratitude to and great respect for all the selfless messengers of peace.

The entire world is one living entity and ‘the pull of a single hair affects the entire body’. We are closely connected to each other and experience good fortune and misfortune together. In the midst of numerous problems, humankind has to face many challenges. Solving problems is like treating an illness. Before prescribing medicine, we must first of all find the root cause of the illness. Through the three-day exchange of ideas, we have come to an important common understanding that the root cause of all problems stems from education — the West has neglected religious education and the East the education of traditional cultures. Both of them share four types of universal education: moral education, virtuous education, causality education and the education of sages’ wisdom and love. Due to the neglect of universal education, people’s values and outlook on life have derailed. It renders indifference and moral degeneration, and causes continuous escalation of conflicts and violence……All these chaos visits us one after another and is worsened day by day. If we do not proactively seek solutions, the chaos will perhaps become irreversible. As for the solution, the earliest Chinese literature on education ‘The Book of Rites’ states, ‘To establish a country and guiding its people, education must be the priority’. It is therefore most important and urgent to vigorously develop universal education. We must be of one mind and endeavour to revive the education of morality, virtue, causality and sages’ wisdom and love.

The revival of universal education has four steps: believing, understanding, practicing and attaining. We should first of all have faith in universal education, then carry out in-depth research, afterwards practise it in daily life. In so doing, we shall positively influence others by correcting ourselves and consequently enjoy a healthy mind and body, a happy family, a successful career and social stability. These will subsequently prove that universal education can indeed bring peace to the world. The following suggestions are proposed for effective implementation:

A. Nurturing teachers of promoting and safeguarding religious education
The ancients said, ‘Without explanation by an enlightened person, sages’ teachings would not be understood with even the greatest intelligence.’ Confucius also said, ‘It is human beings who promote sages’ teachings but not the other way round.’ Therefore, nurturing virtuous and talented teachers are more important than anything else. In 2016 we established the Academy of Sinology at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, aiming to develop universal education and produce messengers for bridging eastern and western cultures. In 2017 we established the Doctorate Class in Harmony for training teachers of different religions. The doctorate students are expected to not only delve into the scriptures of their own religion but those of other religions. We hope that the Class will later grow into an institute of religious education and, a step further, develop into a university of world religions with one faculty for each religion and the students and future teachers of different religions being classmates. They are not only in harmony with each another but will also guide their followers to stay in harmony. With these successors, our minds shall be at peace. We do hope that each religion can restore religion as education and bring lasting success to religious education.

B. Establish Universal Education Centre
The ancient Chinese said, ‘Learning is like sailing against the tide, one will recede if not sailing forward.’ Only by delving into the classics that teach universal education over a long period, can a person continuously improve themselves. Otherwise, they will not be able to resist internal afflictions and external temptations. Similar to the regular gatherings of different religions, Universal Education Centre provides facilities and long-term opportunities for people to study the scriptures of their own religion and ask teachers questions when needed as a way of deepening the understanding and practice of their own religion.

C. Develop groups with family culture
There are many large-scale enterprises and international organisations in the world today, just like traditional big families in China. If they can learn more about universal education, practise family culture within their groups, care for each other like a family, irrespective of ethnic group or religion, the centripetal force of the groups will increase. The stronger the force is, the more prosperous an enterprise will be. This plays an important role in social stability and harmony. Currently, we can find good examples in China and Singapore and they enable people to deeply understand the values of universal education in the modern age. We hope to use this approach to promote the learning of universal education.

D. Establish moral forums
In China there are a number of moral forums. Each forum lasts for 7 days. It enables attendees to calm down, focus on receiving the education of morality, virtue, causality, sages’ wisdom and love, and to understand the effects of universal education and how to practise it in daily life. The effects of these forums have been proved to be significant: defiant children have learned to respect and love their parents; the bad has retrieved the goodness in them; the violent has regained their gentle nature; the divorced have restored their marriage; drug addicts have eliminated addiction……The success rate has reached 90 per cent. People benefited from the forums are numerous in number. This sufficiently indicates the huge power of universal education in purifying people’s minds. It also enables us to see a bright future ahead of us. Similarly, each religion can establish moral forums in accordance with its own doctrine. We believe that it will yield good results.

E. Promote remembrance ceremonies
Remembrance ceremony is education in the form of art. It enables attendees to acknowledge others’ kindness and develop gratitude under the influence of music and propriety. It awakens the general public’s respect for parents and teachers, and restores their honesty, simplicity and love for others and all beings. Consequently, many problems in the world will be resolved.

F. Emphasise the special integrated school philosophy
A Chinese classic on childhood education, entitled ‘Ancestors’ Rules and Standards for Proper Childhood Education’, states, ‘Only when there is true education approach in the world will there be true talents. Education approach starts on the street; the development of talents starts from childhood.’ I visited an experimental school once and they have quietly implemented this approach for 18 years, from kindergarten all the way to high school education. At the age of two, children enter the nursery and they are taught morality, learning to respect and love parents and teachers, to care for classmates, and how to do cleaning and interact with others with respect. When slightly older, they are taught virte, causality and sages’ wisdom and love. As a result, good values are reinforced with no interruption throughout their education and this is the significance of integrated schools. The more children with good values there are, the more hope we shall have for the future. Therefore, we hope that this kind of universal education will be included in global education systems and become a standard.

The above is our humble experience accumulated over the years. We sincerely present it for your perusal, and hope it helps with avoiding unnecessary detours when promoting universal education. Humankind is now in a time that is much more dangerous and complex than the times of all past religious saints and sages. We must therefore work and go through the hard times together, and shoulder our historic responsibility. We should follow the teachings in the classics, navigate the right direction and mend our mindsets. We should neither conflict with nor blame each other; neither be demanding nor fear difficulties. We should not expect quick results. We should be strict with ourselves but generous towards others. We should properly play the roles of stepping stones to universal education development. Together, we will accomplish the mission of practising and sustaining the eternal teachings for the past sages and of paving the way for lasting peace and harmony for generations to come.

Lastly, may you all enjoy a healthy mind and body. May auspiciousness be upon all of you. May the world enjoy lasting stability, peace and Great Harmony. Thank you.