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Speeches

B. Jayamedho: Interreligious Cooperation in Peacebuilding from a Buddhist Perspective

Address to the International Leadership Conference
by Bhikkhu Jayamedho, Conference of All Indonesia Buddhist Sanghas
Jakarta, Indonesia - December 8, 2012

Harmonious living with other faiths is a kind of peaceful socialization that can be achieved through religious tolerance. Religious tolerance is an attitude of mutual understanding and mutual appreciation without any discrimination whatsoever especially in the matter of religions. Indonesia is a country composed of various kinds of faiths and religions. Since ancient time, the ancestors of Indonesia had already embraced faiths such as animism. In due course of time, Indonesia embraced many different kinds of religions which are all came from foreign nations. Several religions have been flourishing and accepted by the people in Indonesia such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Confucian etc.

The main purpose of this article is to assist in promoting a better understanding of religious tolerance and interreligious cooperation from the Buddhist perspective and how Buddhism maintains harmonious living with other faiths or religions. Buddhist tolerance towards other faiths is reasonable. Buddhists do tolerate other religious practices, and yet at the same time they can express their views freely regarding those practices and beliefs without harboring hatred or prejudice.

Buddhists belong to the religious group that accepts and appreciates the reasonable teachings of every faiths or religions. Buddhists can also tolerate the practices of other religious, cultural traditions and customs, although they may not necessarily wish to emulate them. In other words, Buddhists respect the other man’s views and appreciate other practices without harboring any religious prejudices. This is called religious tolerance. And if there are certain Buddhists who feel they are unable to appreciate the ways of other religious practices, then the least they could do is to maintain their silence and refrain from any undue criticism: this attitude is very important for peaceful co-existence. This is called sympathetic understanding.

Buddhist tolerance towards other faiths is also proved through the missionary attitude of the Buddhists. Buddhists never try to convert other faiths into Buddhism by any means. Buddhism spreads throughout the world without any enforcement or bloodshed among people. This is a prototype of Buddhist tolerance which is very important for world peace. Thus, the need to live in peace with people of all faiths can only be achieved by establishing mutual understanding, mutual cooperation, and friendliness towards other faiths.

Buddha’s message was an invitation to all to join the fold of universal brotherhood to work in strength for the welfare of mankind. The Buddha’s first missionaries were Arahants, the holy persons. Before sending out these disciples, he advised them in this manner:

Go forth, O Bhikkhus, and wander for the gain of the many, for the welfare of the many, in compassion for the world, for the good, for the welfare of gods and men, proclaim the Dharma, the doctrine; preach a life of holiness, perfect and pure.

According to this advice, the Buddha wanted to tell the people the difference between good and bad and he wanted to teach them how to lead a happy, peaceful and righteous life. But he never mentioned that his disciples should go and convert people into Buddhists. Whenever he advised his disciples either to do something or to keep away from something, he always asked them to think not only their own welfare and happiness but also the welfare and happiness of others. He said, “If it is good for you and others then do it, on the other hand if it is bad for you and others do not do that.”

There is no reason for all of us to hate one another and to harbor jealousy. Other people are also working for peace and are guiding the public to be better citizens. Let all of us unite to abolish racial arrogance, national barriers, hindrances to cultural development and other kinds of discrimination. Let all of us unite not to use religious militancy. Let us unite to stop all the brutality and man-slaughter in the name of war. Let us unite to give freedom to man to find a religion according to his own conviction. Let us unite to give up religious monopoly. Let us unite not to use religion in the market place to convert others by adopting questionable methods. Let us unite to respect other people’s religious beliefs and practices as long as these beliefs and practices are harmless and do not mislead the public. Let us unite to wipe out the challenging attitude of unhealthy religious competition. Let all religionists unite to eliminate the various vices and immoral practices that are common in our modern society. Let us also unite to introduce the moderate way of life amongst our followers and advise them not to go to extremes.

Like the bee gathering honey from different flowers, the wise one sees only the good in all religions and accepts the essence of the different teachings. For example, Buddhism says, “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” The Taoist says. “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” The Christian says, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” The Muslim says, “Do unto all men as you would they should do unto you, and reject for others what you would reject for yourself.” The Hindu says, “Let no one do to others what he would not have done to himself.”

Interreligious cooperation among the religious leaders and devotees is important to build and maintain peace and happiness. The Buddha said: “There is no happiness without peace,” and “There is no peace without tolerance and forgiveness.”

Fanaticism and closed-mindedness must be eliminated by educating people, preaching, and other joint programs. Our Youth Pledge in 1928 said: “One State, One Nation, One Language – Indonesia.” It has never been formulated as “One Religion.”

On this good event may I invite you torecite with me the Forgiveness prayer, which every morning our monks and nuns say to purify their mind and heart:

Forgiveness

 

If I have and wrong to anyone by deed, speech, and thought

May I be forgiven so that I may live in peace and happiness

I also forgive anyone who may have done wrong to me by deed speech and thought

In order that I may live in peace and happiness.

 

May all beings be happy, be free from suffering, be free animosity,

Be free from sickness, be free from difficulty,

May they keep their own happiness.

 

May I be well happy and peaceful

As I wish to be well happy and peaceful

May all beings be well happy and peaceful.

 

May I be free from animosity

As I wish to be free from animosity

May all beings be free from animosity.

 

May I be free from mental and physical suffering

As I wish to be free from mental and physical suffering

May all beings free from mental and physical suffering.

 

May I live in peace and happiness

As I wish to live in peace and happiness

May all beings live in peace and happiness.

 

We share with all beings the merit of generosity, morality, and meditation

Which we have practiced

May all beings share this merit and be happy and peaceful.

 

Sabbe satta bhavantu sukkhitatta

May all beings be happy.

Sadhu..sadhu..sadhu ...

 

Thank you, and may the Merciful One bless all of us.