Museum of World Religions Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Inauguration of 'Hall of Spiritual Ecology'

Museum of World Religions Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Inauguration of 'Hall of Spiritual Ecology'
The Museum of World Religions (MWR) celebrated its 20th anniversary on November 9 and held an inaugural ceremony for the ‘Hall of Spiritual Ecology - The Cosmos of Avatamsaka’. The new exhibition space is aimed at contributing to the buildup of interdisciplinary consensus to better protect the environment and ecology by way of education-themed exhibitions in the future. As the anniversary coincided with the World Interfaith Harmony Day, Dharma Master Hsin Tao― Founding Abbot of Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society (LJM) and MWR Founder― invited R.O.C. President TSAI Ying-Wen and official representatives of the Ministries of Interior and Cultural Affairs to join interfaith leaders and other dignitaries on the occasion to pray for ecological sustainability, the Earth's safety and security, as well as world peace. It was hoped that the occasion would catch widespread attention and concern for key issues of climate change and ecology.

Master Hsin Tao pledged a vow of great compassion more than three decades ago to create a museum for the world's religions. Fund-raising for donations of small amounts continued over the years and with support from all over, the MWR was launched in 2001 and grew on its core values of ‘Respect, Tolerance and Love’. Interfaith exchange, art and culture, and education of life are the museum's three key areas of interest that propel its efforts to promote and manifest the ideal of ‘Love & Peace’. The MWR plans on intensifying interfaith cooperation to gain widths and depths for the education of spiritual ecology to push for mankind's spiritual awakening the soonest, so as to usher in a world of love and peace. The MWR became the first lawfully certified private museum in Taiwan in 2017 shortly after the governing legislation came into effect, marking a milestone for the MWR in its mission of professionalism and social service.

The MWR celebrated its 20th anniversary on the theme of ‘Visit the MWR for Home-coming to Spirituality’. The celebration was opened by 2011 Grammy Award winner Yangjin Lamu with the song entitled ‘Breathing of the Earth’ to rekindle a closeness to, and an affinity with, our planet. Two more of her recent creations, ‘The Garden of Faith’ and ‘Love as Flower & Seed’, further accompanied the celebrations alongside congratulatory videos from interfaith representatives. The highlight was the inauguration of the ‘Hall of Spiritual Ecology - The Cosmos of Avatamsaka’ with a 2-minute visual feast in the plenary auditorium. The museum's traditional centerpiece - the Avatamsaka Realm Theatre - had been retrofitted to enable the use of the spherical exterior for multiple screens to show environmental videos. As such, the multiple displays on a curvature can be labeled a digital gift of the mind for the New Normal.

Master Hsin Tao led the prayer session by inviting President Tsai to join other religious leaders on hand to light up Lights-of-Mind on-site in a tranquil atmosphere that was both sacred and solemn. Dignitaries present included the Fo Guang Shan Monastery (FGS) Abbot Venerable Hsin Bao; Msgr. Pavol Talapka, Apostolic Nunciature to China; Most Rev. Thomas CHUNG An-zu, Archbishop of Taipei; TSAI Kuang-Ssu, Lord of Universe Church; HSIEH Yuan-Chih, Secretary-General of the ROC-in-Taiwan I-Kuan Tao Headquarters; LIAO Pi-Lan, Director of Art of Living Taiwan Center; Father Jonah, Orthodoxy Chruch Taiwan; Dr. CHAO Hsi-Lin, Chief-Imam of Taipei Grand Mosque; WANG Lu-Pao, Missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Rabbi Leon Fenster, the Taiwan Jewish Community; LIN Fang-Kuan, CEO of LinFangJin Charitable Foundation; among other special guests.

When addressing the occasion, President Tsai acknowledged LJM's virtuous merits in interfaith, interdisciplinary and inter-cultural deeds ranging from the concern for the extreme climate problems and life education to its long-term dedication to charity, public cause and social well being. Cases in point include the beach cleaning in Taiwans north-eastern coast as a concrete manifestation for safeguarding marine ecology, and hosting of Dharma events online through the pandemic to sustain the society with the much-needed strengths of stability and harmony. The President further said that it was a great honor to join interfaith leaders for the prayer session for ecology, and she would be highly hopeful that the religious goodwill would join the government in making efforts for further advancement for Taiwan and the world.

On the occasion of the MWR's 20th anniversary, the LJM International Board of Honorary Directors dedicated the Hall of Spiritual Ecology as a birthday present. Meanwhile, Master Hsing Yun, Founder of the FGS, presented a calligraphy in the characters reading ‘Compassionate Benevolence & Meritorious Virtues’ that recognizes MWR's practice of compassion.

In the ‘Hour of Gratification’, a documentary on Mme. LIN-YOU Mei and Mr. LIN Fang-Kuan was shown to honor their offering of the ‘Hall of Spiritual Ecology - The Cosmos of Avatamsaka’. Master Hsin Tao also presented them a citation plaque bearing the insignia of Buddha's footprint to symbolize solid accomplishment in line with Buddha's way, and the case in point is exactly the manifestation of the Avatamsaka Cosmos in the secular world. A special ceremony of ‘Marks of Handprint’ was then conducted on-site for long-time benefactors who have been supporting the MWR since Day 1 of its establishment, including Dennis CHEN Jin-Tsai, President & CEO of WIN Semiconductors, who sponsors the touring exhibition ‘The River of Life’ for 5 years running, the ‘Hall of Spiritual Ecology’ doner LIN Fang-Kuan, and LI Ling-Li, LIN Hong-Bao, LIN Ming-Shu, LIN Mei-Fong, LIN Ching-Luan, HONG Li-Juan, HSU Hsio-Hsia, Jin Mao Company Ltd., and LAI Jin-Ju.

The celebratory ceremony ended on a high note of a guided tour through the series of special anniversary exhibitions ‘Love as Flower & Seed - from September 11 to November 9’, ‘Let Love Be Like Mother Earth - A Twenty-Year Review of the MWR’, and ‘The Magical Bus Route Love - Marriage with Cupid Leading the Way’ that go hand-in-hand to show the creativity and hard work of the curators.

Feeling the urgency of our endangered ecology in the wake of global warming that became further complicated by a lingering COVID-19 pandemic, Dharma Master Hsin Tao pro-actively promotes the ideology that ‘spirituality is ecology’. In parallel, the MWR has become increasingly involved in environmental issues in recent years and actively engages in interfaith cooperation to promote holistic spiritual education. In his reciprocal remarks on the occasion, Master Hsin Tao reiterated the MWR's full commitment to realize its core value of ‘Loving the Earth, Loving Peace’. The Master further hopes that the platform would enhance interfaith bonding that grows to include other components of humanity, so that we all become protectors of ecology to advance the education of spiritual ecology and awaken people's spirituality for accountable actions in saving the world. The launch of the ‘Hall of Spiritual Ecology’ serves to illustrate that spirituality and ecology cannot be separated from each other, according to the Master, prompting visitors to the MWR to become aware of the dire situation our Earth finds itself in and awaken their innate spirituality to form a positive notion of peace and identify the fact that man and Nature belong to a symbiosis. Such awakening would then make realization of a healing spirituality that warrants a rebirth of planet Earth possible.

Incumbent KMT Chairman Eric CHU, who is well befriended with Dharma Master Hsin Tao, also offered his congratulation. Chu said that he remains impressed with the Master's teaching that ‘the world is at peace when the mind is at peace’, and that the Master promoted spiritual ecology at the Parliament of the World's Religions. Mayor HOU You-Yi of New Taipei City also squeezed time from his busy schedule to deliver in person his congratulatory remarks to thank the MWR for nurturing the City's four million residents with spiritual nosh and life education. Mayor Hou said that New Taipei City is lucky to have the twin gems of the LJM and the MWR. Hou is particularly impressed and thankful for MWR's campaigns and activities of life education that benefit children of his city with the opportunities of learning about life and 'Loving the Earth, Loving Peace'.