Buddhists & Christians Walking Together on the Path of Non-violence

Buddhists & Christians Walking Together on the Path of Non-violence
Organized by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (PCID), the Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference, the Ling Jiou Mountain (LJM) Buddhist Society, and the Museum of World Religions, and co-organized by the Fo Guang Shan, the Tzu-Chi Foundation, and the New Taipei City Buddhist Association, the 6th Buddhist-Christian Colloquium celebrated its opening at the LJM Lower Monastery (Sheng Shan Temple) in New Taipei City Monday morning, November 13, 2017. The four-day international symposium will be a platform where religious leaders of different faiths and scholars meet and build bridges of friendship for mutual understanding and direct communications. Good ideas can then be pooled to ultimately achieve new milestones of religious harmony and world peace.

The PCID initiated the cross-religion symposium in 1995, when the first Buddhist-Christian Colloquium was launched at the Fo Guang Shan in Taiwan. Buddhist communities around the world began to take turns in hosting the international event consequently in the Vatican, India, and Japan. The Colloquium was staged in India in 2015, and Taiwan is the host country for 2017.

The objective of the 6th Buddhist-Christian Colloquium is for Christian representatives and Buddhist leaders from all over to recognize and consequently prioritize the urgent necessity of the non-violence issue, by way of listening to and dialogue with one another at the congregation, in promoting world peace. It is further desired for the friendly dialogues amongst symposium participants to create momentum conducive of proactive promotion of a new life attitude that denounces violence and upholds respect, which will hopefully spread from homes to communities, politics, civil and religious establishments.

The Colloquium opened Wednesday morning, November 13, with an audience-wide chanting of the Mantra of the Buddha of Medicine led by Master Ching Yao , Chairman of the New Taipei City Buddhist Association. Ven. Master Hsin Tao, founding abbot of LJM and host to the symposium, then delivered a welcoming message. Christian dignitaries on the blessed and inspiring occasion included the PCID Secretary General and the Bishop of the Holy Heart Church, H.E.Msgr.Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J.; Rev. Msgr. Sladan Cosic; H.E.Msgr. John Hung SVD, Archbishop of Taipei; Rev. Dr. Peniel Rufus Rajkumar, Inter-Religious Dialogue Project CEO of the World Council of Churches.

In his welcoming speech, Dharma Master Hsin Tao expressed that the Colloquium, by means of in-depth dialogues, aims at establishing ways of action-taking acceptable by Christians as well as Buddhists that grows to become a global strength of ethics. The LJM for its own part has been promoting the ideal of ‘Diversified Co-Habitation and Inter-dependent Co-Existence’ in the face of global crises, whereas respective priorities of both Christianity and Buddhism are obviously different yet allow co-operation in moviing forward together. The other LJM ideal of “Loving the Earth” renders it clear that it must begin with the love for peace, as violence only begets more violence. And, how do we make disasters and calamities go away, one may ask. The answer lies with the heart and the mind being at peace, a state accessible by practicing meditation, saying prayers, reading sacred scripture, etc. A current LJM initiative is the University for Life and Peace underway in Myanmar, which is an integrated platform for both Christianity and Buddhism to co-operate and physically embody the ideal of “Loving the Earth” - in the hope that such a relgious missioin will ultimately pool synergies from across academics, economies, and politics to arrive at “Loving the Earth” in words and in deeds.

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs JC Wu pointed out that Taiwan is a place where different faiths exist and flourish, whether it being Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Catholicism, or Islam. Taiwan looks to deliver a message to the world that it cherishes the value of harmony and inclusion. The present Colloquium gathers leaders across religions, builds conduits for communications and enables a platform for interactions and co-operations, and as such, it will most certainly contribute to the advancement of world peace and harmony.

The PCID Secretary General and the Bishop of the Holy Heart Church, H.E.Msgr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J., pointed out that to opt for the path of non-violence is a matter of life and death as it goes far beyond sketches on the drawing board. It takes everyone and all co-operations to abolish violence of all sorts that inevitably draw severe consequences. It is therefore our sincere hope that the present Colloquium will provide opportunities for all to recognize emerging and burning issues resulting from any violence, and to collectively look for solutions by talking to our buddhist friends the world over. And consequently, we hope, that more people will join the cause by starting from within their own families, communities, politics, civil and religious establishments, to proactively promote a new attitude on life that rejects and curbs violence, and holds respect for other people.

The Colloquium will focus on the impact on society that religions are capable of, and give thoughts to putting an end to disputes by transforming the cause of violence. Symposium highlight will include topiccs on what gives rise to violence, how to curb violence, how to cultivate non-violent lifestyles, how to amend past mistakes and heal losses by learning from real-life lessons, how best to go the distance ahead together … The platform also serves to be indicative of possible trends for cross-religion dialogues between Christianity and Buddhism, as well as for future communications among Christians and Buddhists. At the Colloquium, common grounds will be identified and reservations for differences allowed, and it invites all to forge ahead towards a world in peace.

The four-day Colloquium expects the participation of hundred-plus scholars and experts from home and abroad, invited by Catholic and Buddhist organizations. Symposium moderators and presentors are from the Vatican, the USA, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Thailand, India, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines, Mongolia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The LJM Lower Monastery (Sheng Shan Temple) is the event site from Nov. 13 to Nov. 15, whereas the congregation will move to the unique Museum of World Religions for its last day agenda and closing ceremony on Nov. 16. It is understood that the PCID Chairman, H.E. Msgr. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, will visit Taiwan to join the occasion to give expression of his appreciation and support to the Buddhist friends.