Master Xuecheng: Buddhism revisits the culture mission in the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’     Time:2017-06-30 22:33:16
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Ven. Master Xuecheng gave speech on the opening ceremony of The ‘Symposium: Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism along the Belt and Road’ held in Po Lin Monastery, Hong Kong on 29th of June.

The ‘Symposium: Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism along the Belt and Road’ was held in Po Lin Monastery, Hong Kong on 29th of June. President of the Buddhist Association of China (BAC) Venerable Xuecheng, deputy director of State Administration for Religious Affairs of P.R.C Jiang Jianyong, president of Hong Kong Buddhist Association Venerable Master Zhihui, president of Macau Buddhist Association Venerable Jianzhao and rector for Thailand Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University Venerable Prof. Dr. Phra Brahmapundit, with more than 300 people, including eminent monks, who came from more than 20 countries along the Belt and Road, and specialists and scholars, gathered together in Hong Kong, to explore the positive role that Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism play in the blueprint of the Belt and Road initiated by China. 

Ven. Master Xuecheng gave a speech with a title ‘On the Belt and Road: The Spiritual Footprints of Buddhism and the Construction of a New World Civilization’ on the opening ceremony. He indicated that ‘the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative not only knocked open the economic lifeline connecting China, Asia, Africa and Europe, but also activated the deep cultural connections lying underneath for more than two thousand years. Twenty years after its handover to motherland, with its status as a renowned international center for finance and business as well as shipping and logistics, Hong Kong possesses a strong foundation of strength and broad prospects for development in the Belt and Road Initiative.’

In the speech, Ven. Master Xuecheng elaborated three roads in details throughout ancient and modern and using examples of eminent monks seeking Buddha Dharma: The road to truth — pursuing mutual growth of the human mind. The road to friendship — transcending individual solitude in an open world. The road to culture — breaking barriers in a liberal age.

Ven. Master Xuecheng said that all eminent monks and patriarchs, who didn’t hesitate to sacrifice their bodies or life for Buddhist Dharma along the Silk Road, such as Master Fa Yan, Master Xuan Zang, Master Jian Zhen, Bodhidharma, Kumarajiva and Guru Atisha etc., had used their lives to prove the true meanings of faith; and then they used their faith and the power of truth to reveal us the ultimate value of life. Moreover, they had become unprecedented, influential figures in the development of Buddhism and the propagation of Asian culture. 

Buddhists were truly the envoys for culture and peace along the ancient Silk Road. Ven. Master Xuecheng hoped that ‘with the current Belt and Road Initiative, it’s imperative for Buddhism to revisit its cultural mission and shoulder new historical responsibilities: to inject strength of belief into the Belt and Road Initiative, while imparting the glory of culture; to create new culture, new concepts and new vision of civilization for this era with the complete and unimpeded wisdom from Buddhism, so that the Belt and Road not only becomes a prosperous economic zone, but also an important starting point for the new structure of the new world civilization. Both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism ought to cooperate and deepen their conversations with regard to the transcendent, altruistic, innovative and profound aspects of Buddhism. In this way, the mind’s lamp, which was once lighted up by the virtues of eminent monks and patriarchs, would be passed around through our hands, and its flame reach every dark corner of the world.’

Ven. Master Xuecheng pointed out that: ‘the Belt and Road Initiative is not only a path for international free trade and political and economic cooperation among different countries, but also a new route where global cultures can exchange and learn from each other. It is a fresh new starting line for shaping a new global civilization. Hinged upon the profound essence of Chinese cultural, Chinese Buddhism has applied its complete and unimpeded wisdom of the Middle Way into Buddhist theory and practice more vividly. It has not only developed the Eight Great Buddhist schools which blend all doctrines of Indian Buddhism, but also built up the rules of monastic life fit for Chinese society. Its thorough sinicization, from doctrine, to practice to organizational form, fully demonstrates the inclusiveness of Chinese culture and the complete and unimpeded characteristics of Buddhism.’

The cultural exchange and mutual learning, integration and innovation carried out on the ancient Silk Road has been an inspiration to us, the builders, participants and observers of Today’s Belt and Road. Ven. Master Xuecheng pointed out that: ‘all of us, whether we adhere to Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism or Eastern and Western culture, and whether we are Chinese or from another ethnicity or nation, should develop an attitude of learning, and should possess a courage of innovation. We should also tap into our reserves of wisdom in order to overcome the cultural disparities between different people and nurture an open and accepting environment that can accommodate and understand different cultures. Only by building such a consensus can we help modern humanity to break through the cultural conflicts and ideological barriers misunderstanding in this time of increasing liberty. This is the spiritual attitude that new world civilization should possess.’ 

Since Tang dynasty, Hong Kong has been a part of ‘foreigner’s route from Canton to the sea’, which connects trade and transport along the maritime Silk Road.Ven. Master Xuecheng looked back the historical period of Hong Kong Buddhism introduced from mainland and pointed out that: ‘if we look deeper and farther, this is where Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism converge, and when Eastern and Western cultures mingle, Hong Kong should present an open space for religious and cultural interchange in order to achieve greater development and achievement.’

Finally, Ven. Master Xuecheng hoped that: ‘from India to China, from Chinese Mainland to Hong Kong, from the Belt and the Road to the whole world, the spiritual footprints of Buddhism can keep advancing. May the light of belief guide each soul. May the power of enlightenment propel each person to transcend themselves and reach out to others. May Buddhism become an active strength in the world’s culture and the core spiritual source of new world civilization construction. May Hong Kong become the Oriental Pearl that lights up the world and the hearts of people with a true spirit of openness, tolerance, freedom and innovation.’

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