Scholars spotlight Buddhism’s role in bringing people closer
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.
Hsing Yun, founder of the Fo Guang Shan Monastery in Taiwan, writes one verse of the Heart Sutra at the Nanjing forum.