1/8/2021  Interfaith Dialogue—Introduce Humanistic Buddhism

Through the invitation from Dr. Victor Gabriel, Assistant Professor in the Buddhist Chaplaincy Department at the University of the West, Hsi Lai Temple attended the Interfaith meeting with Claremont School of Theology on Jan 8. The topic was surrounded the faith amidst the chaos and given the introduction on Humanistic Buddhism. The Interfaith program is a bridge. It has opened a chance for students, people of different beliefs, and locals to be able to access and learn more about Hsi Lai Temple as well as Buddhism. Due to the surge of the pandemic, the meeting was held online. This time, the Interfaith meeting is honored to have the following special guests: Venerable Abbot Hui Dong, Instructor Christine Hong, and students total 35 people attended the event.

In the beginning of the meeting, Venerable Hui Dong, the Abbot of Hsi Lai Temple, delivered the opening speech. As Abbot stated, it was an honor and a pleasure to see everyone in this meeting. This time, it is clear to see that faith has played a crucial role in life. We can still find a way to overcome the pandemic. “When we have a strong mind, we have the strength to deal with those upsides down in life”, the Abbot emphasized. The Interfaith program is the connection between religious groups. Humans are not alone. It is impossible for people to be apart from each other. As humans, people have to interact with one another in society. Same as here, Interfaith program advocates for the cultivation of tolerance. Right now, there are a lot of conflicts happening, from national political views to religion and racism. Instead of being frightened, what we can do in this chaos is to turn those conflicts into an opportunity. A chance to understand each other, a chance to tolerate the difference.

Following up is the Q &A session. There are a lot of interesting questions. Some people interested in what the requirements are to become a monk. Some are curious about whether there is a God or Goddess related to Buddhism. In answering those questions, Venerable Zhixing has introduced Fo Guang Shan Buddhist College. She explained the main core of Buddhism as well as Buddha is not a God. Buddha in Sanskrit is the one Who awakened and realized the truth of the Universe. Buddhism emphasizes that everyone has the Buddha nature. Additionally, a lot of people have wondered what makes Humanistic Buddhism more unique than others. Traditional Buddhism may stay away from the society and cultivate doctrine on the mountain. However, Shakyamuni Buddha was enlightened and shared his teaching on the worlds. Addressing history, Venerable Master Hsing Yun believed Buddhism’s practice had to be back into society, back into the human.

Realizing of the urge that Buddhism had to be back in society, Venerable Master Hsing Yun promotes the guidelines: “To propagate Buddhist teachings through cultural activities, To nurture talents through education, To benefit societies through charitable program, To purify human hearts and minds through Buddhist practices.” In other words, that motivation and propagation is Humanistic Buddhism. No matter in what ways and how different the faith is, together religious brotherhood can make this world better.