Promoting Spiritual Ecology for 'Loving The Earth', Winter School 2021 Wraps Up with Success

Promoting Spiritual Ecology for 'Loving The Earth', Winter School 2021 Wraps Up with Success
Ling Jiou Mountain's 3rd Winter School, a pilot project of the future University for Life & Peace (ULP) since 2019 and also the first digital version of the program due to COVID-19, took place between 8 - 10 P.M. (GMT Taipei) on January 22, 23, 29, and 30. The student body consisted of more than 100 participants from 16 countries including Germany, UK, France, the USA, Myanmar, etc. The online program also involved the participants with group discussions on topics presented by experts of psychology, social development, economics, environmental sciences, and so on. Winter School 2021 itself successfully drove full circle on January 30 and sharing of its success is set to continue.

Ling Jiou Mountain (LJM) Founding Abbot, Dharma Master Hsin Tao, pointed out that spiritual ecology is front and center to the ULP, where the emphasis will focus on respecting, protecting, and genuinely caring about the ecology, which in turn translates as love for the Earth and people that is lasting and selfless. Venerable Master Hsin Tao also observed that the lecturers and the faculty engaged in group discussions to share their expertise without reservation, and it was common among the students for their group discussions to go on for 4, 5 hours non-stop. They spoke about ecology and consumerism, cross-cultural decision-making, urban development's impact on ecology, etc. A digital Winter School has its merits in terms of agility and warrants efficiency and the ULP may adopt the format for added dimensions in the New Normal.

Professor Martin Kolmar, chair for Applied Microeconomics at the famed research university of St. Gallen, Switzerland, held a talk on climate change from the context of economics. He is of the opinion that climate is of the public domain and any relevant discourses must include the factor of its connections to and with external elements - which likens the Buddhist dogma that all things depend on one another and exercise mutual impact. When it comes to decision-making, efficient solutions emerge as long as the element of interconnection and interdependence is considered at once.

Professor Ernst Pöppel of the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, conducted the course on ‘Humans are born to decide: an overview from the perspective of a neuroscientist’. In the talk, references were made about how emotion and sentiment influence the process of decision-making and how it can be impacted by the general belief that decisions need to be swift on the basis of a singular and linear equation of cause and effect.

‘The Tao of Finance’ was among the most popular lectures according to the feedback from all participants, and it was by Prof. Stefan Brunnhuber as a WAAS initiative (World Academy of Art & Science) that zoomed in on financing mankind’s future with a parallel monetary system to substantiate the 17 lofty objectives proclaimed by the United Nations as SDGs (Sustainability Development Goals) for an encompassing and holistic approach. Everybody walked away thoroughly impressed by the lecture’s thought-provoking pragmatism as well as by the lecturer’s academic credentials that cover disciplines from medicine over finance to sustainability.

On the part of group discussions, there were also positively impressive results and one group shared an edited video clip with footage showing what and how their consumption behaviors are influenced, in the hope that viewers of the video will become acutely aware of the ‘influencers’ that impact their consumption so as to help curb over-consumption for the sake of the ecology.

Another group focused on the discussions of what the cultural background's role can be in decision-making. Buddhists subscribe to the notion of cyclic karma in terms of repercussions and bouncebacks, hence the dedication to sustainability is a matter of course. Christianity, on the other hand, holds the belief that God created the world and it falls upon humans to protect Nature. The group arrived at a consensus that cultural differences remind us to avoid traps of prejudices in cross-cultural interactions.

Other groups shared their knowledge about the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’(SDGs) as promulgated by the United Nations to combat environmental issues such as air and water pollution, overpopulation, sound pollution, and the like. In reverse, the rise of the Sharing Economy with examples like Uber, Airbnb, or Taipei's Ubike, gives ample examples of how we in our daily life can contribute to reducing the emission of carbon dioxide as a way to help safeguard the Earth.

Winter School 2021 as the 3rd consecutive experimental program and a pilot project of the future University for Life & Peace of LJM, reached a high point of fruition in its digital format. The strong and positive feedback from all the participants, the faculty and students alike, testifies to its success and forecasts sequels to follow.