Buddhists and Christians announce Declaration, and Inter-Faith Representatives hold Hands in Prayers for World Peace

Buddhists and Christians announce Declaration, and Inter-Faith Representatives hold Hands in Prayers for World Peace
The 6th Buddhist-Christian Colloquium witnessed its closing ceremony on November 16, with his Eminence Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID), flown in to Taipei specifically to grace the occasion by delivering a heart-warming speech. PCID Deputy Secretary-General, Indunil Kodithuwakku, joined Dharma Master Hsin Tao, founding abbot of the Ling Jiou Mountain (LJM) and founder of the Museum of World Religions (MWR), in formally announcing a 10-point Final Statement and thus turning a new page yet again for religious harmony and world peace.

One of the highlights on the auspicious occasion was a praying session for world peace, and everyone in the audience had on their hands an LED-lit ‘candlelight’, when prayers were said in silence. The audience then read out loud the text of a classic prayer on world peace, and thereby pledging commitment to peace and non-violence. Probably one of the bigger religious events of the year, the closing ceremony proper ended on a high note with the praying in candlelight, and invited to it were special guests that included Director Kao Ang, Department of European Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Attache Jeng Yu-Ru, ROC Embassy to the Holy Sea; Representative Asher Yarden, Israel in Taipei; Ambassador Rachel Koupaud, Embassy of Haiti to the ROC; and religious representatives of Islam, Taoism, the Tian-Di Sect, I Kuan Tao, ChongHwa Tian-Di Jeng Jiao, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Taiwan Conference on Religion and Peace (TCRP), etc.

The 6th Buddhist-Christian Colloquium ran from Nov 13 to Nov 15 at the LJM Lower Monastery at Sheng Shan Temple, with delegations from 18 countries and 100-plus participants in total and mostly inter-faith scholars and practitioners. Also present at the Colloquium were representatives from the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), the World Council of Churches (WCC), and other establishment of inter-religious dialogues.

Delivering his keynote speech on behalf of the organizers, His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran stressed that as violence destroys lives, our shared goal for now is to heal a world torn apart, and dialogues between Buddhists and Christians were called for to help bring about changes from within, and to create peace of the society on the basis of people’s hearts at peace. Cardinal Tauran further called out to people with faith to “speak truth to power and speak truth in charity; to overcome a culture of indifference and build a culture of encounter; to move from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention; and to end a culture of impunity and promote a culture of respect." His Eminence also made the request that we all work side by side and hand in hand to create a brand new lifestyle where violence is denounced and respect for people safeguarded.

Cardinal Tauran presented a twin panel of woodblock prints from exquisite etchings with the theme of “Pantocrator” and “Theotokos” respectively to Dharma Master Hsin Tao as an expression of gratitude for LJM’s unreserved efforts in making the Colloquium a success. In reciprocation, Master Hsin Tao offered a statue of Bodhisattva in bone china as a symbol of compassion to echo Maria’s association with love and light that lends itself as the theme of a special exhibition at the MWR. In addition and in his hotly coveted hand-writing, a mounted piece of calligraphy by Master Hsin Tao himself - with the characters for “wonderful heart & eternity” in Chinese - was likewise presented to Cardinal Tauran to show genuine appreciation for a significant project run in co-operation and in tandem with the PCID.

Buddhists and Christians reached a 10-point consensus at the Colloquium, which was then formulated into the event’s “Final Statement”. Master Hsin Tao and the deputy PCID secretary general, Indunil Kodithuwakka, joined hands at the podium to pronounce the Final Statement and openly recognize that “the 6th Buddhist-Christian Colloquium marked a significant milestone in the promotion of peace and non-violence when ego-centric interests dominate; it is critical to listen to out-cries of all sorts from the victims themselves; and it is essential to abolish poverty, unjust, inequality, exploitation, and discrimination; and it is crutial to identify with the notion that ecological crisis has become personal, and to advocate ecological retreats for environmental protection for our collective habitat - the Earth; and, through each and every biological community, the inter-reliant symbiosis and inter-dependent co-existence cannot be overstressed; and that it be noted that inner freedom, purity of heart, compassion, forgiveness, healing and self sacrifice can be nurtured by the merit of prayers, silence, and retreats, and reversely, these have proven to be necessary to achieve personal inner peace and societal harmony.”

Master Hsin Tao pointed out in his reciprocal speech that the Colloquium succeeded in reaching a height rarely attained before to afford a perspective for us to realize that non-violence is indeed the way of the saints and as such, worthy of both Buddha and Jesus Christ. From that perspective the symposium offered an interactive platform for relevant stories of real people in real life to be shared, reviewed, and learned from. The meaning of world civilizations can thus better reveal itself in its entirety. Our inner peace helps towards returning to the spiritual eternity by way of meditation and prayers. “Love the Earth” has become our common calling and shared mission, and the ideal must proceed naturally with co-operation from the two leading faiths Christianity and Buddhism, as natural as neighbors reach out to help each other. And it is desirable that the co-operation be expanded to include other faiths and become all-encompassing.

Upon the completion of the closing ceremony, Colloquium participants and guests joined a guided tour of the special exhibition “Love & Light - Paintings of Bible Stories” that opened at the Museum of World Religions on same day. Visitors marveled at the beauty of works of art on display, and praises were showered on the curation of the exhibition as well as its overall design for thematical treatment and a balance between aesthetics, functionality, and services.