Members of Buddha's Light International Association and Distinguished Guests, thanks to the blessings of the Buddha's compassionate light, many thousands of distinguished Buddhists from seventy-three major cities and all five continents are gathered here in Taipei, from where the Buddha's Light International Association originated.
Buddhism talks about causes and conditions, teaches that all beings in the entire world are one family, and that all living beings are interdependent, thus within one embodiment. The sun, the moon and the stars in the sky, regardless of luminance, shine upon each other; mountains and ravines, high and low, are all in endless succession; rare and special species, regardless of variation, complement each other. This universe is actually integrated and coexistent perfection.
"Integration" connotes equality and magnanimity. Within the human body, there are different organs and features, such as eyes, nose, tongue, hands and feet, yet these are all parts of the body. On this earth, there are many different nations, races, and geographical regions, yet these must all rely on the earth for survival. Among living beings, though there are variations, such as beings who are sentient or non-sentient, male or female, old or young, strong or weak, intelligent or ignorant, all beings are equally elements within the one embodiment of dependant origination. Even though the forms of phenomena are different in myriad ways, all share the Buddha nature.
"Coexistence" means compassion and harmony. In the Dharma realm, all living beings are interdependent. One example is told in the sutras of how a blind person, a deaf person, a mute person, and a person unable to walk managed to escape safely from a burning house by helping each other. A well-done dramatic presentation requires not only talented performances by the leading actors, but also excellent contributions by the supporting roles. Likewise, in order to build a peaceful society for all, the contribution of all individuals from every group and region is essential. Through compassion, we can accept and appreciate each other; through harmony, we can coexist.
As we all know, integration is equality, and coexistence is compassion. The essence of Buddhism is found in the spirit of equality. The Buddha initiated the sangha in order to eliminate the caste system in India. He achieved this by advocating equanimity, as embodied in the sayings, "All the rivers flowing into the ocean have only one taste? the taste of saltiness. When people from differing backgrounds join the sangha, they all become the family members of Shakyamuni." I hope that members of the Buddha's Light International Association will uphold the wisdom of equality, embrace the courageousness shown by the Buddha in transcending the caste system, and endeavor to develop the Buddha's Light International Association into an organization that 1) advocates compassion and magnanimity; 2) promotes equality among all living beings; 3) respects family life; and 4) values social welfare. Within the framework of the Buddha's Light International Association, regardless of nationality, race, gender, or socioeconomic class, all members are equal and should foster mutual respect for one another. We should do this because we are all neighbors of the same global village as we work towards integration and coexistence. In this world, though we see wars destroying countries, hatred causing genocide, sectarianism dividing religions, we should discard selfishness and prejudice and help each other, because we are all the inhabitants of the same planet. Furthermore, because we are interrelated through coexistence, we should respect every living being. If we do this, the earth will eventually become a humanistic pureland of peace and happiness.
Due to our lack of emphasis on "integrated equality," social unrest arises repeatedly nowadays. Owing to our lack of mindfulness about "coexisting compassion," our natural environment is being destroyed. Therefore, in an effort to purify our mind and heart. We should strive to realize the ideals of integration and coexistence by promoting the "Seven Admonitions for Mind Purification Campaign," which advocates no smoking, no drug and alcohol abuse, no lewdness, no violence, no stealing, no gambling, and no slandering of others. In an effort to save our planet, we should also actively join the international "Environmental Conservation Campaign," which works to eliminate the excessive felling of trees, the excessive cultivating of farmlands, the killing of wildlife, uncontrolled building construction, and littering.
Starting right now, let us work hand-in-hand to promote the ideals of integration and coexistence and to actualize compassion, equality, harmony, and magnanimity in our daily lives. When we achieve this, I believe it will not be long before we will all enjoy a peaceful and wealthy pureland on earth.