Master Hsin Tao Holds a Meditation Session and Leads Two Panels on Buddhist-Muslim Dialogue at the Sixth Parliament of the World’s Religions

2015-10-16
Master Hsin Tao Holds a Meditation Session and Leads Two Panels on Buddhist-Muslim Dialogue at the Sixth Parliament of the World’s Religions
On October 16 Master Hsin Tao, the founder of the Museum of World Religions in Taiwan, led two panels on Buddhist-Muslim dialogue at the sixth Parliament of the World’s Religions. This was the 14th such Buddhist-Muslim dialogue he has convened since 2002. Earlier on the same day Master Hsin Tao led a meditation session which was attended by people of various faiths and followed by a lively question-and-answer session.

Master Hsin Tao began the 7 am session by explaining what meditation is, how it’s practiced, and why people living in the stressful modern world need to practice it. The participants were mainly Westerners, a large proportion of whom were quite young. After intently listening to the instructions and practicing the technique, the participants asked various questions, mainly on the difficulties they encountered with the practice.

Ever since the terrorist attacks of 2001, the conflict between Islam and the West has been a constant topic of discussion. Aware of the rising tensions, Master Hsin Tao proposed that Buddhism could act as a mediator between the two sides. As a result, since 2002 the Global Family for Love and Peace, an NGO founded by Master Hsin Tao, has held 14 Buddhist-Muslim dialogues in 12 different countries, including one at UNESCO in Paris and one at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Titled “Healing the wounds of war, hatred, and violence” and “Recovering the Sacredness of the Earth,” the panels were attended by an array of clergy and scholars with a wealth of experience in interreligious dialogue.

Master Hsin TaoDuring the panels Master Hsin Tao emphasized the importance of meditation. He stated that we need to use meditation to cultivate the kind of inner peace and equanimity which makes it possible to open our hearts and genuinely listen to others, based on which we discover our common humanity and interdependence and learn how to peacefully coexist despite our differences. He also stressed that by connecting to one another based on our common religious values, religion can provide considerable impetus to world peace.

One participant, a Muslim woman who graduated from the Harvard Divinity School, shared her experience of overcoming the difficulties encountered with her Egyptian Christian roommate. Stating that “The road to religious harmony is long and hard, but it’s definitely possible,” she described how she has grappled with the question of religious diversity and shared some of the answers she has found.

Master Hsin Tao Holds a Meditation Session and Leads Two Panels on Buddhist-Muslim Dialogue at the Sixth Parliament of the World’s ReligionsAnother participant pointed out that peaceful coexistence is not merely interpersonal, but also includes our relationship with the natural environment and other species, for which reason we can’t overestimate the importance of this vital topic.