Environmental and Spiritual Preservation
Buddha’s Light International Association President Master Hsing Yung
In a keynote speech given at FoGuangShan Monastery on October 2, 2010 by BLIA President Master Hsing-Yun, he outlines steps taken by the organization in addressing the direct correlation between the organization’s avocation of the practice of Humanistic Buddhism and environmental preservation, and emphasizes the importance of conscientious lifestyle behaviors to ameliorate environmental problems in the 21st-century.
At a Devotees Gathering in 1992 at Fo Guang Shan, the following twelve guidelines were offered to benefit not only one’s society but also one’s physical environment: (1) Speak quietly – do not disturb others; (2) Keep the ground clean – do not litter; (3) Keep the air clean – do not smoke or pollute; (4) Respect oneself and others – do not commit any violence; (5) Be polite – do not intrude on others; (6) Smile – do not face others with an angry expression; (7) Speak kindly – do not utter abusive words; (8) Follow the rules – do not seek exemptions or privileges; (9) Mind your actions – do not violate rules of ethics; (10) Consume consciously – do not waste; (11) Be grounded – do not live aimlessly, and (12) Practice kindness – do not create malice.
Environmental preservation is the foundation of BLIA’s works, and can be observed in the organization’s dedication toward providing disaster relief and toward long-term projects. In the early 1990s, in order to raise funds for University of the West, BLIA members took the initiative to collect waste before separating and selling them, slowly accumulating funds to build a campus. It was the first university to meet environmental impact assessment standards in the country. Furthermore, BLIA chapters around the world have planted over five million trees and have conducted clean-ups of riverbanks, beaches, oceans, and parks, as part of echoing the campaign for environmental preservation.
Events were held to raise awareness on environmental preservation: the 5th Meeting of the Fourth Board of Directors by BLIA World Headquarters, where motions passed to combat global warming; the International Vegetarian & Organic Food Festival, organized by BLIA, Chunghwa, and Merit Times Daily Newspaper; the “International Forum on Ecological Awareness: How Nations Take Stewardship of the Commons”, where eight hundred participants gathered to discuss how to aid the environment, to implement the saving of energy, and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
President Master Hsing-Yun acknowledges the continuous process of environmental preservation, and that, as members of the global village, it is a campaign that is beyond race and crosses borders. Congruous to BLIA’s work on promoting education, he reinforces the idea that education is the root of the maintenance of the public environment. In addition, one can practice environmental preservation by fostering environmentally friendly habits, such as turning off lights, unplugging unused appliances, walking or taking public transport when possible, and reducing the use of paper products as well as recycling at both home and work. As an organization conscious of its directive, BLIA has worked for the past twenty years to raise awareness and to take action to preserve the environment, and will remain dedicated to its responsibility in the future.
Below is the keynote speech given by Venerable Master Hsing Yun at the 2010 Buddha’s Light International Association General Conference in Taiwan.
Venerable Master Hsing Yun gives an impassioned plea for all people to acknowledge the damage humankind has done to Earth, and to start taking steps to heal our planet. He rejects despair and surrender, and conveys a strong message of hope and renewal by encouraging people to learn and live our ideals as human beings. This process will give us the power and resourcefulness to clean and preserve the environment for generations to come.
Environmental and Spiritual Preservation
Venerable Master Hsing Yun
Keynote speech given at the
2010 BLIA General Conference
Fo Guang Shan, Taiwan
October 2-7, 2010
Vice-Presidents, Elders, Directors, Chapter Elder-Advisors, Chapter Presidents,
Distinguished Guests, Buddha’s Light Members, greetings to you all!
First I would like to welcome everyone back to Fo Guang Shan (FGS) for the BLIA General Conference. A few months ago, the eruptions of Eyjafjallajokul Volcano and Katla Volcano in Iceland caused major air traffic disruption in Europe. The volcano ash plume spread across the sky, causing serious threats to flight safety and grounded a majority of airplanes in Europe. Not only did the eruptions have a severe impact on the economy, they also caused fear and anxiety in people. Now, almost six months after the eruptions, everything seems to have returned to normal, I feel especially joyous in seeing that everyone from the Five Continents has safely returned to FGS for the conference.
As the volcanic eruption is mentioned, it has been said that the 21st century is an era of environmentalism. Indeed, the United Nations Declaration on the Human Environment (Stockholm Declaration) was introduced in 1972 to raise awareness in environmental preservation. In addition, the United Nations also declared June 5th as World Environment Day (WED) to urge people to realize that we only have one Earth, and that humans and the environment are one and inseparable. The subject of environmental preservation has since been the central focus of the world.
In the years that followed, the United Nations held several Earth summits to discuss environmental issues and passed various international conventions, hoping that through establishing international cooperation and treaties, nations will minimize the emission of carbon dioxide and other toxic gases that are harmful to the ozone layer, and slow down global warming.
However, it is regretful and worrisome to see that, despite the fact that the world has already realized the worsening problem of global warming and destruction of the ecological system, “to value environmental preservation, and rescue the Earth” is still only a slogan to many, and is not being put into real action.
On Mother’s Day, over 100,000 guests from all around the world attended the 2011 Buddha’s Birthday Celebration held in front of the Taiwanese Presidential Office in Taipei. Politicians, ambassadors, officials from as far as Nicaragua, Nauru, St. Christopher, the Philippines, and Mexico joined in on the festivities. Notable guests include Vice President of Taiwan, Vincent Siew; Former Head of the Yamanashi prefecture parliament from Japan, Fukazawa Toshio; and Jeffery Huffines, Chair of the NGO / DPI Executive Committee & U.N. Representative. Siew, Toshio, and Huffines all commended BLIA efforts for promoting humanitarian relief efforts across the globe. Huffines’ speech emphasized the value and need for ethical and spiritual principles in today’s world in order to promote prosperity.
Guests on Ketagalan Boulevard outside the Presidential Office.
The colors formed the Chinese characters “auspicious 100″ (吉祥100),
symbolizing prosperity for the Republic of China in its centennial year.
China Post reports:
Tens of thousands of believers gathered to celebrate Buddha’s birthday, also officially known as Veska Day, along with Mother’s Day and the 100th anniversary of the Republic of China on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office, yesterday.
Guests from around the globe and mothers from all over Taiwan congregated and “bathed the Buddha” in hopes of bringing peace and prosperity to Taiwan and the world through this spiritual gathering.
For the third consecutive year, the celebration of Buddha’s birthday took place on Ketagalan Boulevard on Mother’s Day. The event was arranged by the Executive Yuan’s Council for Cultural Affairs and hosted by Fo Guang Shan (FGS, 佛光山) and the Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA, 國際佛光會). According to the BLIA, over 100,000 attended the event.
Vice President Vincent Siew encouraged the people of Taiwan by discussing Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s philosophy of “three goods and five ways to be at peace” (三好五和), saying that doing good things, saying good words, and thinking good thoughts will bring peace within oneself and society. Buddha’s teachings are long lasting, just like a mothers’ love, Siew said, while wishing for long life for democracy and freedom of religion.
President Ma Ying-jeou, who was not present at the event, called and expressed his blessings for mothers and the spreading of Buddha’s creeds to the crowd through a speakerphone.
The event was attended not only by politicians but also ambassadors and officials from Nicaragua, Swaziland, Nauru, St. Christopher, the Philippines, Mexico and various other nations.
Jeffery Huffines, Chair of the NGO / DPI Executive Committee & U.N. Representative for CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, commended the BLIA, which was acknowledged by the U.N. as an NGO in 2003. He also commended its founder Venerable Master Hsing Yun for promoting humanitarian relief efforts.
Huffines encouraged the creation of “a world in which material and scientific development is governed by ethical and spiritual principles that promote the prosperity of people everywhere.” He also commented that Buddha’s spirit of compassion and Buddha’s timeless teachings could navigate many global problems and serve as a platform, just like the U.N., for global coordination in this materialistic world.
Former Head of the Yamanashi prefecture parliament Fukazawa Toshio also attended the Veska Day event. He brought along a letter from the president of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party, Tanigaki Sadakazu, who expressed his gratitude to the Taiwanese public for all their financial and spiritual support following the March 11 Japan earthquake.
“Bathing the Buddha” is a traditional Buddhism practice for Veska Day, where believers scoop up water and pour it over the shoulders of a small-scale Buddha. Venerable Master Hsing Yun said that bathing the Buddha is not just to show respect for the spiritual leader — the source of Buddhist teachings, but also to cleanse the impurities within our minds. To pay tribute to Buddha and mothers for the love and warmth they have brought this world, Hisng Yun said, is the reason Veska Day is celebrated. “May Buddha bless you all,” he said.
Despite the heat, followers of Buddha, including mothers who were over 100 years of age, waited patiently in line for their turn to bathe the Buddha at the end of the ceremony.
On Sunday, July 11, 2010, Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) and the Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI) coordinated a Landmine Education Presentation in Hsi Lai Temple, Hacienda Heights, CA. The presentation focused on the work being done in regards to landmine and unexploded ordinances (UXO) in Vietnam. Sunday’s program held particular significance as it marked the 15th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam. The panel of speakers included Ambassador Bui the Giang, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Vietnam Mission to the United Nations, Ms. Jerilyn Brusseau, Co-founder of PeaceTrees Vietnam, and Mr. Ralph Cwerman, President of HDI. Devotees of the temple and other community members attended to make up an audience of over 150 people. Special guests included Vietnam War veterans and University of Southern California (USC) students working on school projects.
Mr. Cwerman began the program with an overview of HDI’s past and present landmine programs in Southeast Asia and Africa, with an emphasis on HDI’s holistic approach to landmine clearance. Ms. Brusseau followed with a presentation on the history and work of PeaceTrees Vietnam with a personal touch as the organization was founded shortly after the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Vietnam – a goal that was always in the back of Ms. Brusseau’s mind after her brother perished in the Vietnam War in 1969.
Ambassador Giang concluded the program and reminded the audience that this year marks both the 15th anniversary of normalized diplomatic relations and the 35th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. The Ambassador described the course his country has taken since the end of the war, painting a picture of development, challenges and determination. Ambassador Giang also touched upon HDI’s “Mushrooms with a Mission” project and hailed the program as “the right project at the right time.”
The audience was engaged during the two and half hours presentation and raised a number of questions for each speaker. Ven. Hui Chi, Ven. Yi Kung and trustees from the University of the West also participated in this lecture and raised great interest in hosting this event in the campus in the near future.