On May 15, a Buddhist delegation from China led by Master Yan Jue, vice-president of the Buddhist Association of China, traveled to Bangkok, Thailand to attend the United Nations (UN) Day of Vesak celebrations and to engage in friendly visit with the Thai Buddhist community.
Buddhism, a spiritual bond connecting Asian civilization
May is an auspicious month in Buddhism when Buddhists around the world celebrate the birthday of Sakyamuni Buddha in different ways and at different times of the month.
In Buddhist countries of Southeast Asia, the birth, enlightenment, and paranirvana of the Buddha are generally celebrated on the same day, called "Vesak". In 1999, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to recognize the full moon day in the month of May as the Day of Vesak and proposed to hold a global celebration each year to promote the Buddhist doctrines of compassion and peace. The full moon signifies auspiciousness, completion, wisdom, and clarity.
Buddhism in China involves three major language families and the largest number of followers of any country. In recent years, the Buddhist community of China has hosted five consecutive World Buddhist Forums to create a platform for Buddhists of the world to engage in friendly exchange, promote religious friendship, and strengthen cooperation, which has produced a wide range of influences. Buddhism originated in Asia, then spread throughout the world, and has become an important part of Asian civilization.
Master Yan Jue gave a keynote speech as the representative of the Buddhist delegation from China. He pointed out that Buddhism, as an ancient Asian civilization aspect, should also play an active role in inter-civilization exchanges today. He emphasized that in an era of advocating material enjoyment, Buddhists should adhere to a pure and noble spiritual pursuit and a less satisfied lifestyle. They should use their own practice to appeal to people to live a materially-controlled life. In their pursuits of individual interests and development, they should take into account the interests of other beings and make contributions to the sustainable development of human society.
On the afternoon of May 16, a chanting event was held in the city of Bangkok to pray for world peace and peace and happiness for all beings. The organizers also specially arranged for the Buddhist delegation from China to collectively chant alongside the Thai monks. The unique sounds of chanting from the Buddhists of China echoed in the sunset for a long time.
Deep religious friendship and frequent exchanges between Buddhist communities of China and Thailand
The friendship between Chinese and Thai Buddhists is profound, and the two communities have a long history of friendly exchanges. The visit of the Buddhist delegation from China to Thailand is a major event in the history of Buddhist exchange between China and Thailand in new era. It is highly valued by the Thai government and the Buddhist community.
Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong, the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand who is over 90 years old, was very happy to see the delegation. He thanked them for coming to attend the Day of Vesak celebrations and hoped that Chinese and Thai Buddhist communities would be as close as relatives and exchange with each other frequently. The original meeting time was set for half an hour, but the Supreme Patriarch had close conversations with Master Yan Jue, the Panchen Erdeni Choskyi Gyalpo, and Chinese ambassador to Thailand Lyu Jian for nearly an hour.
He said: "China and Thailand are members of one family. I also have Chinese ancestry and can speak a little Teochew dialect. Now I still want to learn Mandarin." During the exchange, he also used Teochew dialect to chat with someone from the Chinese embassy who is from Chaozhou city in southeast China.
Phra Brahmapundit, abbot of the Wat Prayurawongsawat and President of the International Council for the Day of Vesak, praised the viewpoints, wisdom, and enlightenment in Master Yan Jue's speech. He said that when he participated in the World Buddhist Forum hosted by China, he listened to the wonderful speech of the Panchen Lama. Now he was able to meet him here in Thailand, which is very special.
The Panchen Erdeni Choskyi Gyalpo replied: "The Chinese and Thai governments actively cooperate with each other, and the people's minds are interlinked. Buddhists in China and Thailand are all disciples of the Buddha, they are like a hundred rivers returning to the sea in harmony."
Amity between people holds the key to sound relations between states. The Buddhist delegation from China visited Thailand both to appreciate their exquisite Buddhist relics and especially to deeply understand the humanistic spirit and cultural values contained in them. They sincerely and actively uphold the traditional friendship between Chinese and Thai people by writing another chapter in the history of friendly Buddhist exchanges between China and Thailand.
Let the light of compassion and wisdom light up the world
This was Panchen Erdeni Choskyi Gyalpo's first visit with the delegation. On the morning of May 19, he was invited to give a speech entitled Let the Light of Compassion and Wisdom light up the World at Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University in Thailand.
The Panchen Erdeni Choskyi Gyalpo sat in the center of the stage. Behind him were ten Thai high monks sitting cross-legged. The auditorium, which can accommodate thousands of people, was clean and solemn and filled with incense. The audience all held their breath as they listened to the Panchen Lama speak.
"Buddhism is a bridge to promote mutual exchanges and understandings between different human civilizations. It is a bond that connects the hearts and minds of people from different countries and regions and enhances deep friendship between people of all countries. As we look at the long history of human beings, the great teachings of the Buddha are advancing with the times, resonating with society, blending with different ethnic cultures in different regions, conforming with the current times, and spreads the path of enlightenment to people of different backgrounds. It has prospered in many Asian countries and profoundly shaped the unique temperament of Eastern civilization, and enriched Asian spiritual traditions and cultural treasures." The young Panchen Lama has a majestic and dignified presence, and he is very composed, and his compassionate words flow out from his heart.
Speaking of Sino-Thai friendship, the Panchen Erdeni Choskyi Gyalpo said: "China and Thailand are friendly neighbors joined by mountains and rivers. The traditional friendship between people of the two countries has a long history and remains unshakable and become even firmer as time goes by. The Chinese and Thai Buddhist communities carry on a thousand-year-old religious friendship with frequent friendly exchanges, and their great story continues. Buddhism plays as an important bond in cultural exchanges among Eastern countries with China and Thailand included and has made important contributions to consolidating peace between them."
At the end, he prayed earnestly in English for world peace, the well-being of human beings, and social harmony. He also prayed that the light of the compassion and wisdom of Buddhism would light up the world.
(The author is Fa Yin)
Editor: Tommy Tan.