In­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence on tra­di­tional and in­no­va­tion in Va­jrayana Bud­dhism

Bhutan Times - - Home - Lhakpa Tsh­er­ing

The three-day se­ries of talks and pre­sen­ta­tions on is­sues of con­ti­nu­ity and change within con­tem­po­rary ex­pres­sions of Va­jrayana Bud­dhism ends to­day.

More than 400 in­ter­na­tional par­tic­i­pants took part in the three day in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence held in Thim­phu from July 1-3. The con­fer­ence was or­ga­nized by the Cen­tral Monas­tic Body and Cen­tre for Bhutan Stud­ies (CBS) and GNH Re­search.

As a tex­tual tra­di­tion, Va­jrayana or Tantric Bud­dhism de­vel­oped in In­dia from the 8th cen­tury on­ward as a cre­ative re­sponse to chang­ing so­cio-cul­tural con­di­tions, build­ing on ear­lier tra­di­tions of spir­i­tual prac­tice. Va­jrayana sub­se­quently shaped the art, cul­ture and con­scious­ness of much of Asia, and es­pe­cially the Hi­malayan re­gions of Ti­bet, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan. Va­jrayana Bud­dhism is now a global phe­nom­e­non.

The con­fer­ence em­pha- sized Va­jrayana’s long his­tory of cre­ative adap­ta­tion within wider pro­cesses of con­ti­nu­ity and change and the cur­rent glob­al­iza­tion of Hi­malayan Bud­dhist cul­ture.

Dur­ing the course of three days con­fer­ence, 65 speak­ers from seven­teen dif­fer­ent coun­tries shared their in­sights and ex­pe­ri­ences on his­tor­i­cal and con­tem­po­rary per­spec­tives on Va­jrayana Bud­dhism and specif­i­cally ad­dressed the role of mind-body prac­tices within Va­jrayana Bud­dhism that have been shown to be­ing sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment to hu­man be­ings health and well be­ings.

The speak­ers fur­ther em­pathized on Va­jrayana Bud­dhism and the role of women, great his­tor­i­cal and con­tem­po­rary fig­ures of Va­jrayana Bud­dhism and its so­cial ap­pli­ca­tion, func­tions of Va­jrayana cen­tres around the world. It also talked on iconog­ra­phy and arts in Va­jrayana Bud­dhism, en­act­ment of Va­jrayana Bud­dhism in the 21st cen­tury and con­clud­ing over­view.

In the the­matic ad­dress of His Emi­nence Rev­erend Khamba Lam Gabju, Supreme Head, Cen­tre of Mon­go­lia said some of the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Mon­go­lia and Bhutan. His Emi­nence added, “In my opin­ion, there is a cru­cial need for us to learn from each other and to work to­gether on many is­sues in the fu­ture. As Bud­dhist prac­ti­tion­ers, we could send our monks to the King­dom of Bhutan on ex­change pro­grams for learn­ing from the ex­pe­ri­ence of Bud­dhist In­sti­tu­tions. We know that the King­dom of Bhutan is one of the very few coun­tries where the Va­jrayana Tra­di­tion has not been bro­ken since it’s es­tab­lished.”

The speak­ers were also en­gaged in dis­cus­sion with both in­ter­na­tion­als and do­mes­tic par­tic­i­pants for fur­ther clar­i­fi­ca­tions. The pro­gramme also in­cludes il­lus­trated talk, pre­sen­ta­tions, movies and live per­for­mances. The speak­ers in­clude re­li­gious lead­ers as well as schol­ars from Bhutan and Ti­bet to neu­ro­sci­en­tists, aca­demics, and promi­nent in­ter­na­tional schol­ars- prac­ti­tion­ers who have adapted Tantric Bud­dhist meth­ods of in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive trans­for­ma­tion to the pri­or­i­ties and concerns of the 21st cen­tury.

At the open­ing of the con­fer­ence on Thurs­day evening, Prime Min­is­ter Tsh­er­ing Tob­gay said, “This con­fer­ence is not only about we Bhutanese can share with all of you who have come from the world to ex­pe­ri­ence Va­jrayana Bud­dhism in its liv­ing con­text. We our­selves will ben­e­fit greatly by learn­ing more about the forms that Va­jrayana Bud­dhism has adopted in Mon­go­lia, In­dia, Nepal, Myan­mar, Rus­sia, Aus­tralia, Brazil, Ja­pan, China, Europe, and the United Sates.” He fur­ther added, “The op­por­tu­nity of this con­fer­ence is top ex­plore, open- mind­edly, the na­ture of the mul­ti­fac­eted and fas­ci­nat­ing raft that is Va­jrayana, the di­a­mond ve­hi­cle that points out that the far shore and the one which we are stand­ing are ul­ti­mately one and the same.”

The con­fer­ence was opened to gen­eral pub­lic and in­cluded in­ter­ac­tive dis­cus­sion. The Cen­tre for Bhutan Stud­ies plans to make this in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence as an an­nual event.

Even the food of­fered dur­ing the con­fer­ence re­flect Va­jrayāna Bud­dhism’s liv­ing pres­ence in Bhutan, in the form of na­tive red rice, or­ganic veg­eta­bles, and heal­ing herbs. As Dasho Karma Ura, the Pres­i­dent of the Cen­tre for Bhutan Stud­ies & GNH Re­search stated that “This con­fer­ence is not only about shar­ing ideas, but about dis­cov­er­ing some­thing at the core of our be­ing that we all hold in com­mon. This is the heart of the Va­jrayāna Bud­dhist vi­sion, and the con­fer­ence will help in­ter­na­tional guests and Bhutanese alike to ap­ply their in­nate qual­i­ties of com­pas­sion, wis­dom, and cre­ativ­ity in all as­pects of their lives.”

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