Awakening Actions to Heal the EARTH: a Paradigm of Love, Peace & Global Family

Awakening Actions to Heal the EARTH: a Paradigm of Love, Peace & Global FamilyClimate change impacts the whole world and crises of ecology become increasingly imminent, with natural resources nearing exhaustion uncontrollably. The United Nations Climate Summit issued stark warnings that “the climate crisis is mankind's steepest threat ever, and no countries, organizations, or decision-makers should just look on and do nothing.” Meanwhile, Dharma Master Hsin Tao - the founder of the Ling Jiou Mountain (LJM) Buddhist Society of Taiwan - appeals to the world to build a university for the Earth. Working closely with world-renowned academic institutions including the Human Science Center of the Ludwig-Maximilian-University of Munich, Germany, Dharma Master Hsin Tao has been leading the project of creating the future University for Life & Peace in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Winter School program is the future university's pilot project, now taking place in Yangon twice consecutively. Collectively more than a hundred brilliant minds from 14 countries have made up the faculty and the student body to date, and they are reputable scholars and star students with different training backgrounds. They get together to come up with concrete actions that help heal the Earth. Winter School 2019 focused on the theme of ‘Marching toward New Strategies to Treat the Root Cause of the Earth's Ecological Crises’, which was borne out of the resonance of spiritual awakenings and programmed to highlight a juxtaposition of technological applications versus their respective corresponding impact on ecology that ought to be altogether positive by design. Winter School 2020 continues in that broad direction to ride on the theme of ‘Healing the Earth - Transformative Actions of Ecology & Technology’. The creation of the future University for Life & Peace serves the purpose of embodying the ideal of ‘Love & Peace’, which is substantiated by the implicit educative objectives of humanitarian care for life and spiritual awakening via ascetic practice. The course of climate change could modify if global awareness of the issue is awakened. We believe lifestyle changes en mass can alter the fate of mankind, and afford the Earth a self-healing antidote.

Sitagu Sayadaw Dr. Ashin Nyanissara, Myanmar's highly esteemed Buddhist guru and the founder of five Buddhist universities, pointed out that Buddha shared the insight that all beings are inter-related for co-existence as reflected in the quote he made 2,500 years ago that “one must respect all forms of life”. Sitagu Sayadaw also said that what Dharma Master Hsin Tao has been doing makes him happy, because “we grew out of the same tree and we must work together to eradicate what plagues the Earth.” Dharma Master Hsin Tao, on the other hand, said that spirituality has become a unique feature of the Winter School curriculum: elements have been part of the overall design of the program's contents to help achieve the spiritual awakening by practicing yoga in the morning before class and ending the day by practicing meditation at night. Program participants are also encouraged to visit the famous Shwedagon Pagoda for a powerful religious experience. It is argued that ecology has its roots in spirituality, which accounts for the connectedness that interrelates all beings. When people manage to find their way back to the nature of mind as part of spirituality, it would be a matter of course to notice that connectedness and realize the inter-dependent and co-existing symbiosis. Love and care would arise automatically and impact our behavior to ultimately restore the Earth and nurture it back to health and harmony as before.

Dharma Master Hsin Tao expressed delight in having top-notch scholars for the faculty and elite representatives for the student body, and both these levels are matched by select participants from the University of Myanmar at Yangon and the State Pariyatti Sasana University, as they both became keenly interested in ecological issues as well. Program organizers are happy that there is a great deal of attention and people share the hope that means for the treatment of root causes for conflict about natural resources and the environment can be explored, as well as how best to turn theories into state-of-the-art applications. Discourses take up formats ranging from summary report, group discussions to role-play, with spirituality interweaving all different disciplines to render action-taking pleasant, stamina readily accessible, and participants always motivated for active engagement thanks to uplifting interactive designs built into the syllabus. Professor Nay Htun, founder of the Green Economy Green Growth (GEGG) Myanmar and former UN Assistant Secretary General with United Nations Development Programme, opened his keynote lecture with two strong quotes to arouse the audience: “People ignorant of history will be punished by the past”, and “Your tomorrow is decided by what is being done today”. Winter School curriculum design has been given wide coverage by local media in Myanmar while being met with peer recognition in academic circles overseas as well.

Winter School 2020 has a special feature with ‘The Myanmar Day’ as a platform for local experts to share the Lampi Marine National Park project, and Master Heng Ming of LJM delivered an update on hands-on education via the eco-farm at Naung Mon. Further experts were present to highlight legislative holidays and administrative opportunities, as well as suburban development and environmental protection under national and international laws, all pecked to current standings and future development trends of environmental protection in Myanmar for in-depth discussions. Designs of the Winter School program and its curriculum interlaces awareness of environmental protection with spirituality and the two case studies Lampi National Park and Naung Mon Eco-Farm lend themselves well as plausible and convincing showcases.

The Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society is sharing a full-fledged blueprint of its education plan in Myanmar: with a post-graduate institute in Yangon, a land lot designated for a university at Bago, and a continuum from elementary school to a college-level vocational institute in Naung Mon. Offering education for both the secular disciplines and spiritual training at various levels, the holistic LJM education plan serves to aid Myanmar as a traditionally Buddhist country in coping with modernization and globalization. In parallel, it is the LJM objective to incubate seeds of peace and ecology and for them to return to their respective origin and lead changes with global impact positive for healing the Earth towards the ultimate goal of a sustainable symbiosis. Venerable Master Hsin Tao makes the sincere appeal to everyone to join and participate in the healing act of ‘Loving the Earth, Loving Peace’ anytime and anywhere so that seeds of love and peace can be planted deep around the world to make the soil fit for an inter-reliant symbiosis. Such will be great news indeed about sustainability for the ecology of planet Earth.