Sharing and everlasting: modern interpretation for the value of Chinese Buddhism

From:Voice of Longquan     Author:Ven. Master Xue cheng      Time:2016-10-10 19:18:13
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On September 29, Ven. Master Xuecheng, President of the Buddhist Association of China and the Buddhist Academy of China, delivered a speech entitled "Share and Everlasting: Modern Interpretation for the Value of Chinese Buddhism" at the Fifth Baku International Humanitarian Forum. Centering around a community of common destiny for all humankind, the speech mainly introduced two significant values that Chinese Buddhism could offer to humankind today, which are the spirit of sharing and the wisdom of everlasting.


 Keynote Speech  at the 5th Baku International Humanitarian Forum                                          

October 1st  2016              

 By Ven. Master Xuecheng

Distinguished President of Buka Humanitarian Forum and honored friends present,

It is a great pleasure to join with more than 400 representatives from 75 countries around the world, to attend the Fifth Baku International Humanitarian Forum, jointly initiated by Azerbaijan President Aliyev and President Putin of Russia. On behalf of Buddhist Association of China and hundreds of millions of Chinese Buddhists, I would like to extend my warm congratulations on the convening of this forum.

The progress of humankind, based on constant connection seeking, is a process of network expanding. During the connections and exchanges, different ethnicities and regions achieved self-renewal and growth together, developed brilliant and splendid varieties of colorful civilizations. As an important representative in the long tradition of human wisdom, Chinese Buddhism has brought about many far-reaching revelations for humankind. Standing in front of the backdrop of current common destiny for human beings, today I would like to talk about two important values that Chinese Buddhism can offer to the people of the current era, namely the spirit of sharing, and the wisdom of the everlasting.

Religion is rooted from sharing. When the founders of the religious saints were passing on their understanding and enlightenment about the ultimate meaning of life and the universe to everyone, they were reflecting a selfless spirit of sharing. The motive for sharing comes from its content, which is about the most universal and ultimate questions of humankind, thus has a crucial and eternal relevance. This universal relevance does not come from a certain grand and epic narrative background, nor is it deep, abstract speculative philosophy. On the contrary, it is coming from each beating resonance of the heart, with life experience which moves every individual with empathy. Because of this, religion is able to go beyond time and space, transcend one person and one lifetime, surpass limitations of one's surroundings and break barriers of knowledge-based education. It stimulates consonance and creates far-reaching impact on different ethnic groups, regions, classes and people with different identities.

Sharing is actually a two-way, open exchange of mutual appreciation, rather than one-way doctrine rhetoric. From 'I have what you don't' or 'you have what I don't,' it becomes 'we all have,' together surpassing the differences and facing the future. When a religion leaves its birthplace and spreads to other regions, it absorbs nutrients inwardly while sharing experience outwardly, thereby opening up new spaces and gaining new energies. If, say, Buddha's spirit of compassion and extraordinary wisdom established the height for Buddhism, then the following practitioners expanded the broadness of Buddhism by their devout faith and selfless dedication. The richness and continuity of religion is built upon every accumulation of actions, as well as the never-ending practice of sharing from all practitioners passing on through generations.

Thousands of years of adversity didn't diminish the light of religion, but made it shine even brighter. In this sense, religion is neither ancient nor young, but everlasting. Why not use life as a metaphor? To define the youth or age of a person, the criteria is both physical and psychological. On the physiological side, the ageing process is reflected by the declining of the body's metabolism, which ends with a full stop on material and energy exchange with the environment. Psychologically, ageing is reflected on increasingly fixed and stereotyped thinking and behavior patterns, and the ultimate lost on ability of learning new experiences and feeling new things in life. It is the same with a civilization, and a culture. Rigid behavior and rejection of communication, usually forms the mutual cause and effect with complacency and a narcissistic attitude, with one aiding the creation of the other. No matter how brilliant a civilization has been, or how advanced a culture has progressed, purely following traditional experience with conceit while refusing to face new developments and see new things, will inevitably cause stagnation and eventual recession. In contrast, it is a historical norm for cross-cultural and cross-border missionary work. As the magnificent history records, religious practitioners are often pioneers who are responsible for cultural exchanges, and are usually the messengers of mutual appreciation between civilizations. Reality proves that the divides between Chu and Han can be surpassed, and the mountains and valleys between civilizations can be bridged. As ever-extending roots of a giant tree that brings fresh nutrients to the branches and flowers, the unremitting practice of exchange provides for the tree of religion, resulting in constant revitalization toward the everlasting.

The everlasting is the result of change. The ability to welcome and embrace change itself is a wisdom. Everything is changing; the only constant is change itself. This coincides with Chinese Buddhism’s basic doctrine of "impermanence." Conforming to changes does not mean to abandon or even deny one's original ground, but rather it is the embodiment and realization of the ground. Anything that exists in time and space, cannot escape the invisible tether of time and space. The transition and change of time and space will inevitably shift the original value of things, divert and disturb their initial meanings. Therefore when thinking about the ultimate question, one needs to go beyond time and space, from a position of still and void, without influences from the self, nor words and thoughts; instead, become the practice of the truth itself. In Chinese Buddhism this is the homologous "ultimate truth.” At the same time, the rooted position projected upon continuously moving space and time, realizes explanations according to the time and place, thus revealing specific ways for practice. This is the "secular truth” in Chinese Buddhism. The secret of the everlasting lies in the wisdom of the boundless and well-roundedness harmonies between Chinese Buddhism's ultimate and secular truth.

For more than two thousand years of history, Chinese Buddhism has continuously exchanged mutual appreciation through the experience of sharing, achieving the everlasting through continuous change. It is our sincere hope that with great endeavor, and under the guardian of transcendence and universality, all the world's traditional religions are able to achieve the greatest degree of mutual understanding and tolerance, and reach the consensus on deep compassion within humanity’s common destiny.


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