Schol­ars spot­light Bud­dhism’s role in bring­ing peo­ple closer

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By XING YI xingyi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Tang Dy­nasty (618-907) monk Xuan­zang made over­land trips to In­dia along the an­cien­tSilkRoad­inthe7th­cen­tury to col­lect Bud­dhist su­tras.

He later trans­lated hun­dreds of the scrip­tures from San­skrit toChi­nese, con­tribut­ing to the pop­u­lar­ity of Bud­dhism in China and its pro­lif­er­a­tion in East Asia.

Con­tain­ing around 260 char­ac­ters, theHeart Su­tra is a sum­mary of the key doc­trines of Ma­hayana Bud­dhism, one of the main ex­ist­ing branches of Bud­dhism. In San­skrit, the ti­tle lit­er­ally means the cen­ter of the “per­fec­tion of wis­dom”.

Xuan­zang’s ver­sion of this su­tra is revered by Bud­dhist schol­ars and com­mon peo­ple.

On Thurs­day, some 240 Bud­dhist monks and schol­ars from 30 coun­tries and re­gions gath­ered in­Nan­jing, cap­i­tal of East China’s Jiangsu prov­ince, for the first Cul­tural Fo­rum of the Heart Su­tra. It was also held for coun­tries that are look­ing with in­ter­est at China’s Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive.

The par­tic­i­pants shared their views on the su­tra and its im­pli­ca­tion on cul­tural ex­changes.

Bud­dhism has deep roots and a long tra­di­tion in coun­tries along the Silk Road, Xincheng, vice-pres­i­dent of the Bud­dhist As­so­ci­a­tion of China, told the fo­rum.

“We shall fol­low in the foot­steps of mas­ter Xuan­zang, us­ing the wis­dom of theHeart Su­tra to re­solve mod­ern-day prob­lems, and con­trib­ute to a world of peace and har­mony,” Xincheng said.

“Bud­dhism teaches hu­mans the high­est moral­ity — to love peo­ple, have com­pas­sion, show kind­ness and tol­er­ance,” Prakrit Ran­jan Barua, vi­cepres­i­dent of the Bangladesh Boud­dha Kristi Prachar Sangha, a Bud­dhist plat­form in Dhaka, said at the fo­rum. “It’s a reli­gion, a spir­i­tual sci­ence and away of life.”

Af­ter the open­ing cer­e­mony, 30monksand­schol­arsto­gether wrote theHeart Su­tra on a long scroll, each writ­ing one verse in his or herown­lan­guage.

A point the su­tra strongly makes is about the con­nects that ex­ist among dif­fer­ent things in the world.

“Through the over­land and ma­rine Silk Road, Bud­dhism con­nect­edAsia with Europe in the past,” says Hs­ing Yun, 89, founder of the Fo Guang Shan Monastery in Tai­wan.

This will help the on­go­ing re­vival of Chi­nese cul­ture, he adds.

“I think the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive pro­posed by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping will make a great con­tri­bu­tion to world sta­bil­ity and peo­ple’s unity.”

Naresh Man Ba­jracharya, vice chan­cel­lor of Lumbini Bud­dhist Univer­sity in Nepal, re­counted the many con­nec­tions be­tween Nepal and China, in­clud­ing a Nepali artist be­ing in­vited by China to build the White Pagoda in Bei­jing dur­ing theYuanDy­nasty (12711368). It still stands to­day.

Maha Vi­hara, the chief high priest of Malaysia, talked about teach­ing Bud­dhism to the younger gen­er­a­tions who are con­sumed by tech­nol­ogy.

“We must cre­ate some new pro­grams to reach out to young peo­ple with­out chang­ing the ba­sic teach­ings of the Bud­dha,” he says.

The fo­rum’s at­ten­dees also vis­ited the Niushoushan Tem­ple in­Nan­jing, wherea rare relic of the skull of the Bud­dha Sakya­mu­ni­has­bee­nen­shrined since last year.

GUO SHASHA / PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Hs­ing Yun, founder of the Fo Guang Shan Monastery in Tai­wan, writes one verse of the Heart Su­tra at the Nan­jing fo­rum.

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