Eliminating Crises Through Religious Education:
Thoughts On Building a
Sacred City of Religions and Culture
Venerable Master Chin Kung AM
For the World Fellowship of Buddhists Interfaith Forum
21–25 May 2012
Distinguished members of The World Fellowship of Buddhists,
Distinguished faith leaders and guests,
I am honored to attend this Inter-faith summit in Bangkok, co-hosted by the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) and the Pure Land Learning College Association Inc. Having learned the sages’ teachings of compassion and loving-kindness for sixty years, I would like to offer my humble thoughts to everyone.
The Root of Present Crises Is the
Deterioration of the Human Mind
Looking around the world, we can see that humankind is facing unprecedented crises.
For example, according to a United Nation’s study report, the change in climate and the rapid growth of population will cause increase in the demand for food, energy, and hygiene, and result in a short supply of water. In 2030, food and energy crises may occur globally. The Yellowstone hotspot that has been dormant for six hundred forty thousand years may erupt for the fourth time in history. A study report of Earthquake Research Institute of the University of Tokyo points out that in the next four years, the possibility that an earthquake above 7.0 MW with vertical ground movement will occur in the Greater Tokyo Area is 70 percent. The latest report in Science is that the thermohaline circulation of the oceans is changing drastically, which may cause more severe droughts and floods on earth in the next few decades. According to the statistics of UNESCO, the number of abortions every year totals fifty million globally. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that the number of the animals slaughtered exceeds three hundred and thirty billion around the world. Human beings do as they wish to satisfy their own desires. All the above-mentioned are signs of pending disasters.
Today, the world is in turmoil, and disasters occur with increasing frequency. The root cause is the deterioration of the human mind. There are reasons for this deterioration: People of the East neglect the teachings of the sages passed down by their ancestors; Westerners neglect religious education.
The Mahayana Buddhist sutras state that “forms are created by the mind; the environment changes in accordance with the mind” and “all phenomenon is are created by the mind.” “Forms” refer to our physical appearance. “Environment” refers to our surroundings, including people and events; mountains, rivers, and the earth; and trees, grass, and flowers. They all change in accordance with our thoughts. The Buddha said in the Surangama Sutra that flaming greed causes floods, anger and jealousy cause fire, ignorance and confusion cause windstorms, arrogance and inequality cause earthquakes, and doubt and disbelief cause cave-ins and landslides.
Therefore, greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance and doubt are the roots of all natural disasters. They are also the root causes of human diseases. When one has the causes of illness—greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance and doubt—in one’s mind, one tends to feel resentment, hatred, vexation, anger, and annoyance and thus gives rise to thoughts of killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, and lying. The retributions will be the malfunction of the internal organs and the occurrence of diseases and epidemics.
A Good Way to Eliminate Crises is the
Teaching of the Sages
Modern scientists discover that the power of thought has incredible energy. “A simple thought seems to have the power to change our world.” (from The Intention Experiment)
Albert Einstein’s teacher, Dr. Max Planck, was a famous German scientist who laid the foundation of quantum physics. Dr. Planck spent his life studying and tracking matter. He said that his study on atoms concluded that there is no matter at all in the world. Mind is the foundation of all matter.
Modern scientists acknowledge that matter in the universe is generated by waves. The speed of waves is very rapid. This wave originates in the vibration of thoughts.
Matter does not exist. It is an illusory phenomenon of the entangling and accumulation of thoughts. Its foundation is thoughts. Without thoughts, there will be no matter. This conclusion coincides with the teachings in the Buddhist sutras, which say that an unawakened thought is the mark of karma. The mark of karma is a phenomenon of the vibration of thoughts. From vibration manifests the spiritual phenomena and the physical phenomena. Understanding this, we will realize that objects change in accordance with the mind.
Some scientists advocate “mind over matter.” This is the latest scientific concept. If we can understand this, we will find an effective way to eliminate the disasters on earth. Gregg Braden, an American scientist, once said that to eliminate the global crises in 2012, the human race must abandon evil and cultivate goodness, amend their conduct, set their thoughts upright, and lead the world to a better direction.
Lynne McTaggart, an American journalist and author, reveals in her book The Intention Experiment that group intention can help remedy and refresh this planet. If there are eight thousand practitioners on earth engaging in highly focused thought, this will be able to affect the whole world and eliminate disasters.
It is stated in the Buddhist sutras: “All dharmas are created by the mind.” The Avatamsaka Sutra says that the universe is “manifested by the mind and altered by the consciousness.” This is a truth that transcends time and space and is immutable. Thoughts can resolve conflict and eliminate disasters. Therefore, [to have] the correct and virtuous thoughts of love and compassion is very important.
The traditional teaching of the sages of the East and the religious education of the West are intrinsically the sages’ teaching of compassion and loving-kindness. The Chinese for religion is zongjiao. The meaning of zong is principal, important, and revered. Jiao means education, teaching, and teaching and transforming. Together, zongjiao means principal education, important teaching, and revered teaching and transforming.
Religious education encompasses the teaching of morality, virtues, causality, philosophy, and science. This education is a good remedy for correcting the human mind. It is what people around the world need urgently.
The founders of religions were all great educators. Every one of them advocated the virtues of harmony, mutual cooperation, and compassion and loving-kindness. Only the teaching of the sages can eliminate disasters and achieve world harmony. Throughout history and around the world, this is the basic method to achieve long-lasting peace and stability.
In June 2010 and October 2011, I visited the Vatican and met with Pope Benedict XVI and had a dialog with His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran who is in charge of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Cardinal Tauran mentioned that in recent years, the population of people who have faiths has continued to decrease, which was quite worrying. I said that a religion should not pay attention only to praying and ceremonies. It must pay more attention to the teaching and learning of the sacred texts. The hope of reviving a religion rests on this.
The ultimate goal of the teaching of all religions is to guide the human mind to goodness. Therefore, a religion should take up the mission of righting the human mind and eliminating disasters. There are more people who have a faith than those who do not. If those who have a faith can take the lead, restoring the sages’ teaching of morality, virtues, and causality, and, starting from themselves, truly practice the teaching of the sages, they will be able to move those who do no have a faith. Through this, they can lead their countries, political parties, and ethnic groups to return to harmony in having the same understandings and harmony in sharing benefits, and to people getting along harmoniously treating one another equally. This way, world stability and harmony can be achieved.
The Present Mission of Religious Education
of the East and the West
The foundation of universal harmony and social peace and happiness throughout history and around the world is the teaching of the sages. When all the sages throughout history and around the world manifested in this world, teaching was their foremost priority.
When Sakyamuni Buddha was in this world, he taught every day without taking any day off. Those students who achieved in their learning also went to other areas to teach. For three months every year, they returned to where the Buddha was for a summer retreat to receive continuing education and continue to elevate their spiritual state and wisdom.
The Book of Rites says: “Education is essential in building a country and in guiding its people.” Wise emperors throughout Chinese history all paid attention to education. Five thousand years ago, King Shun appointed Xie to be the Minister of Instruction in charge of education. The emperors throughout Chinese history invited experts of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism to the imperial court to teach. The emperors led their wives, the government officials, and military officers to learn the Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist texts. The Complete Library of the Four Branches of Literature and Daily Explanation of the Four Books show the literal achievement during the prosperous period of the reign of Emperor Kangxi and of Qianlong in the Ching dynasty.
Jesus taught for three years. Confucius taught for five years. Muhammad taught for twenty-seven years. Sakyamuni Buddha taught for forty-nine years. Their teaching set an example for us.
The following is my humble opinions on the religious education of the Eastern and Western sages.
The Urgency for All Religions to Return to Teaching
The Essence of all Religions––the Teaching of Compassion and Loving-kindness
The teaching of all religions is the teaching of the one true God. The core is the teaching of compassion and loving-kindness.
The term “compassion and loving-kindness” comes from the Infinite Life Sutra and was taught by Sakyamuni Buddha three thousand years ago. The Infinite Life Sutra says: “You should honor the sages and respect the virtuous and harbor compassion and loving-kindness.”
Christianity teaches “God so loved the world” and “You love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
Islam teaches “Allah is merciful” and “There is only one moral norm, which is the principle of universal love originating from selfless and virtuous deeds.”
Zoroastrianism teaches “Consider them as thine own, and this is thy religion.”
Sikhism teaches “More than all else do I cherish at heart that love which makes me to live a limitless life in this world.
Baha’ism teaches “The purpose of the one true God in manifesting Himself is to summon all mankind to truthfulness and sincerity, to piety and trustworthiness, . . .”
Why do I say that the core of the teaching of all the sages is love? Because the universe was created by the only Creator. He is the noumenon (master) of everything in the universe. “Everything” also includes us. The Creator is also the original form of everything. We and everything are one entity. This is why we should love all beings and all things as we love our own body (the external organs of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and the body; and the internal organs are all functioning as one entity.).
Religious groups should work together and help each other. In addition, they should learn from each other and show the love of the sages through us who have a faith. We should start from the religion we believe in. We should broaden our minds, love our religions as well as all other religions. We learn not only the sacred texts of our religions but also those of other religions. We will further understand that all religions are truly one family. The core of the teaching of all religions is nothing but compassion and loving-kindness.
From this we can see that if we want to truly achieve social stability, harmony, and prosperity, we should start with education. Religious prayers only effects a temporary solution, not a permanent cure. To effect a permanent cure requires transforming the human mind and helping everyone abandon evil and cultivate goodness, amend their conduct, and set their thoughts upright. We should earnestly and diligently implement religious education and propagate it. If every religion can continuously engage in teaching for years, this will be of great help to eliminate disasters and promote harmony.
The Ideal of Toowoomba, a Model City of Peace and Harmony
In 2001, I established the Pure Land Learning College Association Inc. (PLLCA) in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. For the past ten years, the practitioners of the PLLCA established a harmonious, friendly relationship with local residents and various religious groups. For the past decade, the PLLCA has been holding a Saturday Friendship Dinner for our friends and neighbors and holding multicultural forums. In this city, religious groups interact with one another harmoniously, and the local residents care about one another. All visitors feel welcome and at home, being treated like family.
In December last year, in celebration of the tenth anniversary of the PLLCA, the University of Southern Queensland and the PLLCA co-hosted a thousand-people religious forum. In the forum, all religious representatives hoped to make Toowoomba a model city of world harmony.
Toowoomba is a place with very special features. There are over one hundred thousand residents, many of whom came from various countries all over the world. There are more than eighty ethnic groups and more than one hundred languages spoken. The residents are of different descents and cultures and have different customs and faiths. This enables Toowoomba to have a multicultural style.
Precisely because of these unique feature, making Toowoomba a model city of peace and harmony has a very special significance. I hope that we can cherish and preserve the special features of each culture. Everyone can have a broad and loving mind to tolerate and respect one another, treat one another equally, and get along harmoniously with one another, enabling those who come to visit Toowoomba to see races of different skin colors as well as customs exist and flourish side by side.
We set an example of respecting, loving, and cooperating with one another for the world to see that harmony and cooperation among different races, different cultures, and different religions can be achieved. The ideal of the entire human race becoming one family can be realized.
The model city of Toowoomba will be led together by all religious groups to achieve harmony. We hope to establish a Toowoomba religious goodwill committee. Religious groups will get together regularly, enhance communication, participate in one another’s activities, and assist one another in public welfare projects. They will share with one another and learn from one another, truly becoming one family.
With the foundation of treating one another equally and getting along harmoniously, all religions should return to teaching, propagate their good teachings, and take up the mission of teaching and transforming society together. The degenerate social customs will surely be changed and the human mind be set upright. When harmony is truly realized, deities our world and its guardians will be moved. Toowoomba will have few disasters and world disasters will also decrease. When religious groups are in harmony, this will facilitate harmony among ethnic groups, political parties, and countries.
When Toowoomba sets a successful example of peace and harmony, we hope to hold an open assembly to share with all people who would come to visit us, our aspiration, methods, experiences, and knowledge, helping everyone to achieve peace and harmony in their hometowns.
If the outstanding achievement of Toowoomba as a model city of harmony is evident and growing for longer than one year, we will do our best to establish a satellite television station and broadcast how the residents of Toowoomba live and learn to the whole world. Numerous people around the world will see the true beauty of a harmonious life. At that time, there will be many people in the world who yearn for this pure land of Toowoomba and want to come to visit and learn. They may even wish to immigrate here. Toowoomba will become more and more prosperous. People around the world will come to appreciate the benefits that harmony bring and become more and more willing to right their thoughts, treat others equally, and getting along harmoniously with others. When such good thoughts and good deeds are common, both natural and man-made disasters will decrease and even completely be eliminated.
The power of examples is great. If Toowoomba successfully becomes a model city of peace and harmony, the whole world will be encouraged and moved. People will also follow suit. There will be a lot more model cities of peace and harmony all over the world.
The Establishment of a University of Religions
I have suggested many times in UNESCO peace conferences that the atmosphere of religious cooperation has been actively and greatly cultivated in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia, the next step was to establish a religious university. We start with setting up a centre of religion study to train teachers, and then we establish a multi-faith university. Courses in morality, virtues, causality, science, and so on, should be run to train high-level educators. Each religion should establish its college. Each college has both common courses and specialist courses. The students should first lay a good foundation on the common courses of morality, virtues, and the law of cause and effect before specializing in the texts of their religions. They should also humbly study the teachings of other religions. They can teach while they are learning. Lectures can be broadcast to religious followers around the world through the Internet and satellite television.
After the students graduate and leave the school, when they propagate the teachings of their religions, they will naturally teach the religious followers to get along with the followers of other religions and treat one another equally.
The Urgency to Revive the Teaching of the Eastern Sages
The Content of Chinese Traditional Education
The English historian and philosopher Dr. Arnold Toynbee once said that in order to resolve the social problems of the twenty-first century, we must rely on the teachings of Confucius and Mencius, and on Mahayana Buddhism. Confucius and Mencius taught that one should harbor kindness and a sense of justice and behave with loyalty and forgiveness. In Mahayana Buddhism, sincerity is the noumenon and compassion is the wonderful function.
Ancient Chinese sages taught that human nature is originally good. A rudimentary textbook that instills proper thoughts in children, the Three Character Classic says: All people are innately good. Although they have similar nature, they acquire different habits. If they are not taught, their nature will change for the worse. In teaching, single-minded concentration is of the utmost importance. For the past few thousands years in China, this has been the highest concept and guiding principle of the ancient sages’ teaching. Since Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty who set up the [educational] system until the end of the Qing dynasty, despite the rise and fall of many dynasties, this highest guiding principle of education has never been changed.
The teaching that the ancient Chinese passed down from generation to generation is that of morality, virtues, and causality. If people can understand the cardinal relationships, they will naturally know that they should love others. The Chinese are a large group of people, who continue to survive for five thousand years until now entirely because of the teaching of the ancient sages.
The ancient Chinese paid great attention to the teaching of the sages. The starting point of this teaching is first of the Five Cardinal Relationships: a natural love between parents and children. The love between parents and children comes from the nature, It is not taught or created by anyone. In Buddhism, it is called an innate virtue. Education teaches children to maintain this natural love one’s entire life. This is the basic goal of the teaching. The next step is to enhance this love. First, parents love their children, and children are filial to their parents; elder siblings are friendly to younger siblings, and younger siblings respect elder siblings; husbands are responsible, and wives are attentive; and rulers are benevolent to their subjects, and the subjects are loyal to their rulers. Next, people should love their friends, their neighbors, their own communities and then society, country, and the human race. “Human beings, regardless of any differences, should be loved equally.”
An Invaluable Book on the Governance of a Country of the Tang Dynasty: Compilation of Books and Writings on the Important Governing Principles
The Tang dynasty in Chinese history was a wonderful era when many cultures existed and flourished harmoniously side by side. Emperor Taizong was broad-minded, magnanimous, and all-embracing. He humbly learned the sacred texts of all religions and of the sages and led the entire country to learn the teaching of the sages. He was not only a Dharma protector of Buddhism; he was also a Dharma protector of all religions. He truly liked religions and protected them. He was able to gracefully accept every religion and treated them equally. If someone who truly practiced and was virtuous and learned, regardless of his religion, the emperor would honor him as national teacher and often ask for their advice and learn from them.
In 635 CE, a missionary Alopen introduced Christianity into China. At that time, it was called Nestorianism. Emperor Taizong sent Prime Minister Fang Xuanling to the western suburb to greet Alopen. In 638 CE, the emperor issued an edict to construct a temple and allowed the propagation of this religion. A church was built in the capital, Chang’an.
Islam was also introduced into China during the Tang dynasty. During the reign of Emperor Taizong, there were already Arabs who came to China. At that time, the Prophet Muhammad was still alive. His disciple Sa`ad ibn Abi Waqqas went to Guangzhou to propagate Islam. The Tang government was very receptive of Islam and respected it. The emperor actively helped the Arab soldiers living in China to build a mosque.
These are examples of a government treating all religions equally. All religious teachings are the virtuous teaching from the wisdom and experience of the sages and prophets and can help a country teach people to get along harmoniously and achieve social stability and harmony.
During the reign of Emperor Taizong, the greatest achievement was the compilation of an invaluable book on the governance a country: Compilation of Books and Writings on the Important Governing Principles.
Emperor Taizong, Li Shimin (599-649 CE), ordered the compilation of this book in 627 CE. He ordered Wei Zheng, an advisor, Yu Shinan, and others to sort out the records of past emperors’ governance and to excerpt from the Six Classics, the four histories, and hundred schools of thought the essentials on cultivating oneself, putting one’s family in order, properly governing the country, and achieving world peace. These were compiled into a book. From the era of the Five Emperors to the Jin dynasty, among more than fourteen thousand books and eighty-nine fascicles, sixty-five categories of books were excerpted the book was more than five hundred thousand characters long.
This book is truly a precious book on the governance of a country that when the book is applied in modern setting, all previous history and experiences gained in the past are fully observed and utilized, and all future outcomes derived from applying this book will surely be as clear as the outcome of any war predicted by the Art of War (written by Sun Tzu)
Emperor Taizong loved it for its breadth and essentiality and read it every day. He said, “. . . for me to have full access to the ancient wisdoms and for helping me govern without doubt, I must thank you(the advisors who compiled the books) . . . .” From this we can see that this book contributed greatly to the peace and prosperity during his reign. It is truly an important book that any politician must read.
The cultural teaching of the ancient sages can bring permanent stability and peace to the whole world. The most important thing is that the people themselves should truly understand traditional culture, ending their doubt and initiating belief. Traditional culture that came from the teachings of saints and sage actually flows from the true nature of all beings, transcending time and space. Such wisdom is never out of fashion. The key to successful learning is sincerity and respect. When one is neither sincere nor respectful towards the teaching of the ancient sages, even if one reads all the books, one will not obtain any true benefit. As Confucius said, “I narrate [what the ancients said] rather than write creatively. I believe in and enjoy the teachings of the ancients.”
In the past, Dr. Sun Yat-sen gave a lecture series on Three Principles of the People. In his fourth lecture on nationalism, he said, “It is only these past two hundred years that Europe became advanced in science and material development. As to the true meaning of political philosophy, the Europeans still need to seek advice from China. You all know that Germany is the most advanced country in knowledge but now German scholars need to study Chinese philosophy and even Buddhism of India to remedy the bias of science.”
The wisdom, ideas, methods, experience, and effects of governing a country that Chinese ancestors passed down are precious results accumulated after thousands of years of testing. Compilation of Books and Writings on the Important Governing Principles is most precious and invaluable. If we can deeply understand it and implement it, we will naturally be able to achieve world peace and personal happiness. If we go against it, it will be inevitable for us to incur disasters. Endless trouble will ensue.
To facilitate reading, the team led by Professor Liu Yuli of the Party School of the Central Committee of China published a plain Chinese edition with explanation. Mr. Tsai Lihsu of Chung Hua Cultural Education Centre also published 360 Excerpts of Compilation of Books and Writings on the Important Governing Principles.
Inspiration from Tangchi, a Model Town of Harmony
In Chinese history, King Tang [of the Shang dynasty] started out with a state of only 70 lis [about 140 kilometers] and eventually was able to rule the whole kingdom. King Wen [of the Chou dynasty] also started out with a state of only 100 lis and eventually was able to rule the whole kingdom. The state of King Cheng Tang was only the size of 70 lis but he ran his state so well that he was made king of the whole kingdom. King Wen of the Chou dynasty rule a state the size of 100 lis. He impressed eight hundred vassals with his virtues and political achievements, so they learned from him. Without incurring any war, he conquered the country. He completely implemented traditional culture and made other vassals to come to visit and learn, thus influencing eight hundred vassals.
Every dynasty had a model city, which was called jingshi. It was where the emperor lived. Jing means large, referring to a metropolis. Shi means a model. This city taught its people morality, virtues, and causality, and became a good example of all other cities.
In the past, I established The Lujiang Centre of Cultural Education in my hometown, the township of Tangchi, Lujiang County, Anhui Province, China. The core of the centre’s teaching is the Confucian teaching of Standards for Being a Good Person (Di Zi Gui). The center helped the local government to propagate moral education to all people. In the beginning, there were thirty-seven teachers, who spent three months learning and practicing Di Zi Gui. Later on, they organized a teaching team and went into villages to teach the villagers. The teachers practiced filial piety, fraternal love, kindness, and love. Within a short few months, social atmosphere changed for the better, proving that “human nature is originally good” and “a person can be taught to be a better person.”
In October 2006, at the recommendation of Deputy Ambassador of Thailand to UNESCO, the World Fellowship of Buddhists and the PLLCA co-hosted a three-day presentation and exhibition, showing interfaith harmony and the results of teaching Di Zi Gui in Tangchi, a model town of harmony. We won the approval of Secretary-General of UNESCO, ambassadors of various countries, and peace workers. We proved that religious groups can work together and people can be taught to be a better person.
The Building of a Sacred City of the Buddha’s Teaching and Culture
to Lead the Whole World to Harmony
The Ideal of Great Harmony of the Buddha’s Teaching
Buddhism is the perfect teaching of utmost virtuousness taught by Sakyamuni Buddha for the benefit of all beings in the Nine Dharma Realms. During his life, the Buddha taught more than three hundred assemblies for forty-nine years. He taught all beings to end wrongdoings, cultivate goodness, break through delusion, attain enlightenment, and transform from an ordinary being into a sage.
When Sakyamuni Buddha was in this world, he engaged in teaching, which can be divided into four stages:
1) The Agamas stage: Twelve years. This is akin to a primary school education. The curriculum included the universal teaching of morality, virtues, and causality. The purpose was to stabilize and harmonize society.
2) The Vaipulya stage: Eight years. This is akin to secondary school education. It links Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism. This stage is preparatory to Mahayana Buddhism. The purpose was to elevate the spiritual state of the students and prepare them for a higher education.
3) The Prajna stage: Twenty-two years. This is akin to a college education. This stage reveals the truth of all phenomena that the Buddha saw: “All phenomena are unobtainable, are intrinsically empty, and cannot be had.” Prajna is true wisdom. The teaching explains the true nature and its expression of phenomena, the noumenon and phenomena, and causes and effects. It is a teaching of advanced science and philosophy.
4) The Lotus stage: Eight years. This is akin to a graduate education. It teaches beings how to enter into the state of a Buddha. It is a Dharma door for attaining Buddhahood. It shows the true state and brings true benefit.
The Buddha’s lifelong teaching was very systematic. We inherit the perfect teaching of utmost virtuousness taught by Sakyamuni Buddha for the benefit of all beings in the Nine Dharma Realms. If we can successfully propagate this perfect teaching, the Agamas of Theravada tradition can help stabilize society, the Vaipulya and prajna teachings, and the Zen, the sutra-study, the Pure Land, and esoteric teachings can eliminate world disasters. The scientific findings in the past three decades accord with the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism.
It is said that Einstein once stated that Buddhism of all religions copes with the modern science well. This is true. After Buddhism was introduced into China, for almost two thousand years, it exerted great influence in China. The emperors of every dynasty were able to be patrons and protectors of Buddhism and implemented the teachings in life and in politics.
It was during the last two hundred years, that Buddhism was neglected. In the first hundred years, Empress Dowager Cixi did not pay attention to it. And then the country was in turmoil, so the Buddha’s teaching declined.
I hope that in Thailand, Buddhism can be truly practiced and revived to bring benefit to humankind.
The Infinite Life Sutra says: “Wherever the Buddha’s teachings flourish, either in cities or countrysides, people will gain inconceivable benefits. The land and people will be enveloped in peace. The sun and moon will shine clear and bright. Wind and rain will appear at the proper time, and there will be no disasters. Nations will be prosperous, and there will be no need for soldiers or weapons. People will abide by morality and accord with laws. They will be courteous and humble. There will be no thievery or injustice. The strong will not dominate the weak, and everyone will naturally get their fair reward.”
The Buddha’s teaching is the most wondrous and virtuous teaching in this world and beyond. Wherever the Buddha’s teaching is propagated, whether a country, a city, or a village, if the people can follow his teachings and practice diligently, there will be good learning results: transforming from an ordinary being into a sage, transforming suffering into happiness, and transforming greed, anger, and ignorance into precept observation, meditative concentration, and wisdom. What will be shown is that “the world would be in harmony and accordance.” The entire universe can be in harmony and conformity.
The Buddha taught us that our minds and behavior should follow the Five Precepts, the Ten Virtuous Karmas, the Three Conditions, and the Six Harmonies. This is according with the innate virtues. When our minds and behavior accord with the innate virtues, natural and man-made disasters can all be eliminated. When everyone treats others sincerely and maintains a virtuous mind, this will result in “Wind and rain will appear at the proper time, and there will be no disasters.” This is dependent rewards changing according to proper rewards.
“There will be no need for soldiers or weapons” because wars and man-made disasters are averted. “Virtue would be revered and benevolence, promoted” When everyone reveres virtue, courtesy, and justice, how can society not be peaceful? “People would engage in the cultivation of courtesy and yielding.” This statement urges us to cultivate courtesy and yielding. We should know to yield to others.
“There will be no thievery or injustice.” When no one steals or robs from others, there will be no criminals in the country. Those who are wealthy or enjoy high status will not “bully the weak.” In addition, they will help the weak, accumulating merits and virtues. As a result, in society “everyone will naturally get their fair reward.” They will enjoy a peaceful life and happy at work. Both the poor and rich are content with their lot.
This is what the Buddha taught us. The propagation of the Buddha’s teaching will surely bring harmony to the world.
Suggestions for a Sacred City of the Buddha’s Teaching and Culture
Using the example of establishing a sacred city of the Buddha’s teaching and culture in Thailand, I will briefly talk about my suggestions for achieving social harmony through religious education. The ideas are general. Each religion can make their own practical plans based on their sacred texts.
Thailand is rich in Buddhist cultural tradition and history. If a small town has simple, honest values, a population less than fifty thousand, and low crime and divorce rates, it can be chosen as a model town for the establishment of a center of the Buddha’s teaching of culture. Related lecture halls, classrooms, retirement homes, childcare centers, and elementary schools should also be established. The Buddha’s teaching should be spread to all the people. In the future, Thailand will surely become a sacred city of the Buddha’s teaching and culture and lead the whole world to harmony.
The following are my suggestions:
Establishing a Center of the Buddha’s Teaching and Culture
The center should nurture monastics to propagate and protect the Dharma. The facilities should be plain and practical.
The Buddha’s teaching “Rely on the precepts for guidance. Discipline oneself with a hard life” should be followed. Seed Dharma masters should be selected from all over the country, even from all over the world. The requirements are as follows:
1) The standards for virtue: they should truly practice the Three Conditions, the Six Harmonies, the Five Precepts, and the Ten Virtuous Karmas set by the Buddha.
2) The ability to read the sutras: they should be able to read the Buddhist canon and the writings of the patriarchs and accomplished practitioners.
3) The same aspiration: they should truly have the aspiration to “continue the wisdom-life of the Buddha and propagate the Dharma to benefit all sentient beings.”
Anyone who meets the above requirements will be admitted. The maximum is forty people. They should first ground themselves in the center for three months to learn and practice. Cultivating themselves is fundamental. This is to plant the roots of virtue. After three months, teaching becomes the first priority. They should go into the countryside to teach people to practice the Three Conditions, the Six Harmonies, the Five Precepts, and the Ten Virtuous Karmas. Whether their teaching will be successful depends on whether the teachers can practice what they teach. They should first practice what they teach and then people will follow suit.
Holding Various Harmony-promoting Activities
1) Holding teaching activities: A forum of the Buddha’s teaching should be held every week at the center. Teaching should continue all year long without any day off.
2) Holding various elections: To lead all beings to goodness through the Buddha’s teaching and set an example for others, good men and good women should be elected based on the standards set in the sutras. The categories of elections should include filial son, filial daughter-in-law, good father, good mother, good mother-in-law, good brother, good neighbor, and so on.
3) Raising flags: The center should hold a ceremony of raising the national flag and the flag of the Three Jewels every week to be attended by the whole town. This is to promote religious dedication and love for one’s country.
4) Going into the countryside to teach: At appropriate places, such as by a river or under a tree, “green classes” should be held. The teachers can interact with the villagers in nature and share the principles of having a happy life with them.
5) Holding Friendship Dinners: The center should hold a get-together dinner every Saturday for the teachers to have dinner with the public, sharing their ideas, learning, and understanding of the Buddha’s teaching
6) Running a farm: The center should plant vegetables without using pesticides or chemicals. It should communicate with little insects with love and feed them to avoid the vegetables being eaten by them.
7) Holding holiday activities: On holidays, the teachers at the center should get together with townspeople, enjoying dances and songs. To change social customs, the best way is through entertainment.
8) Holding get-together activities with religious groups: The center should respect all religions and treat them equally. It should often hold get-together activities for religious groups to explore the teachings of religions, seek common ground and put aside differences, help one another, and together teach people to get along harmoniously with others.
All the above activities should be video-recorded and broadcast through the Internet, satellite television, and television to universally help all beings. This will spread the idea of a sacred city of the Buddha’s teaching and culture all over the world and inspire religions to establish a model of harmony through teaching. They can use this example to lead everyone in the world to goodness and achieve harmony together.
If the World Fellowship of Buddhists in Thailand can truly do this, selecting a small town in Thailand and wholeheartedly implement the Buddhist life, spirit, and culture in this small area, this will be very meaningful. True practice will elicit belief in people. This is the greatest contribution to elimination of crises. This is a very meaningful and great undertaking.
Today, disasters occur all over the world, and chaos breaks out everywhere. We must heighten our vigilance. This is gross neglect of the teaching of morality, virtue, and causality resulting in the deterioration of the human mind.
Presently, more than half of the world population has faith. If all religions can return to teaching, teaching people to abandon evil and cultivate goodness, amend their conduct, set their thoughts upright, I believe that disasters will be eliminated. This is why during these few years, every time I meet with a religious leader, I always talk about religion returning to teaching.
To help people develop confidence in religious education, every religion should establish their own model cities of harmony. Through constant teaching, the teachings in the sacred texts will be practiced in daily life. This will inspire other cities to follow suit. As a result, the whole country will be stable and peaceful, and people will enjoy happiness. Eventually, the whole world will be led to harmony. This will be the greatest contribution of religious education to today’s society. I believe that this sacred undertaking will have the help and blessing from the sages of all the religions.
During these few years, I have been thinking that religion should return to teaching. When I met with the Pope, I also talked about religion returning to teaching. I hope that Thailand, a Buddhist country, can establish a sacred city of the Buddha’s teaching and culture, and set a good example for the whole world. Starting with Thailand, we implement the Buddhist’s teaching. If we can take up this mission, religious groups will develop their confidence and follow suit, thus leading everyone in the world to goodness. We can truly eliminate crises.
These are my humble opinions. Your comments will be greatly appreciated.
I sincerely offer my congratulations on the sixty-sixth anniversary of accession of His Majesty Rama IX.
I wish His Majesty and the government leader good health. May Thailand continue to enjoy every prosperity.
I also wish all good health and happiness and the conference every success!
Shi Chin Kung
President, Pure Land Learning College Association, Inc, Australia
Chairman of the Board, Hong Kong Buddhist Education Foundation, Ltd
Honorary Professor, University of Queensland, Australia
Honorary Professor, Griffith University, Australia