Buddhism Without Borders
Monks from three countries promote exchange at UN headquarters
By Zhao Wei  ·  2019-10-14  ·   Source: Web Exclusive

Participants at the Second China-U.S.-Canada Buddhist Forum in New York, the U.S., on October 12 (ZHAO WEI)

On October 12, 12 days before the 72nd United Nations Day, a group of special guests gathered at the headquarters of the UN in New York for the China-U.S.-Canada Buddhist Forum. More than 500 Buddhists, experts and scholars from the three countries came to promote exchanges and mutual learning.

"Exchange and mutual learning between civilizations serve as the driving force for promoting progress of human society and peaceful development of the world," Vice President of the Buddhist Association of China Yanjue said in the opening speech. "Distinctive and different as they are in forms, these cultures display equal and blended spiritual values that deserve respect and are embodied in the exchange between different civilizations."

The China-U.S.-Canada Buddhist Forum uses simultaneous interpretation (ZHAO WEI)

With a history of over 2,500 years, Buddhism advocates compassion, equality, tolerance, the middle way and peace.

Dayi, the abbot of the Cham Shan Temple in Toronto, Canada, initiated the forum in 2018. The theme this year was "the spirit and practice of chan (meditation)." Dayi said meditation is not just for Buddhists, it transcends religions, race and nationalities.

There are currently 3 million Buddhists in the United States, 1 percent of the total population. They include 250,000 Chinese and Japanese and 140,000 Americans.

Bhikshu Heng Sure from California, the U.S., was ordained as a monk in 1976. Now he serves as managing director of the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery in California. He called Buddhism a very contemporary religion because "the issues that Buddhism addresses are the issues of the human mind and in our lives." He also called it a global religion because "it talks to the mind and the mind doesn't know east or west, male or female, young or old."

A kungfu and tea ceremony performance (ZHAO WEI)

He called the forum important as it brought Buddhists from three countries together to introduce the Chinese tradition of Buddhism at the UN. "We hope that this is a beginning and the seeds planted here can grow and prosper," he said.

A Buddhist chanting chorus (ZHAO WEI)

Following the forum, the Chinese Buddhist Chanting Music Ensemble together with Shaolin Kungfu Monk Corps, the Yonghegong Lama Temple of Beijing and three other Buddhist temples in China performed two Buddhist concerts themed "peace and wellbeing" at Lincoln Center, New York, on October 12 and October 13. The concerts also included demonstrations of kungfu from Shaolin Temple, a renowned school for Chinese martial arts.

Buddhist musicians play traditional Chinese instruments (ZHAO WEI)

New Yorker Kate Valk, who came to the concert with her friend, said it was an amazing performance. "This was my first Buddhist chant event," she said. "The vocals and martial arts were fantastic. I've seen a lot of Chinese martial arts used in the Chinese Opera, but never anything like that. When people share their culture, music and dance and theater, there's no problem."

(Reporting from New York City)

Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar

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