China’s Ven. Xuecheng Attends Mideast-Far East Interfaith Summit in Jerusalem
Revered Chinese Buddhist monk Ven. Xuecheng joined a delegation of religious leaders in Jerusalem on Monday for the first day of a four-day interfaith conference aimed at deepening ties between Israel and Asia. The forum will examine a range of issues, such as the role of religion in modern society, the rights of individuals and what constitutes a just society, and safeguarding the planet and the environment.
More than 20 leaders of major Asian spiritual traditions are attending the summit, including representatives of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism from China, India, Japan, Myanmar, South Korea, Taiwan, and elsewhere. Over the four-day event, co-organized by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the American Jewish Committee, and the World Council of Religious Leaders (WCRL), the Asian representatives will meet Arab and Israeli Christian, Druze, Jewish, and Muslim leaders.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the delegates to the summit. “Welcome to Jerusalem, the holy city to the religions of the sons of Abraham,” said Rivlin. “Your arrival is a very special event, for many years the interaction between our religions hardly even existed. This is no longer the situation, as your visit today shows.” (TheJewishPress.com)
“As the world becomes smaller, problems that were once local and limited are now everyone’s problem. Sometimes these problems have a human face. We must face these problems together and we can face these problems together,” said Rivlin “Our traditions have much in common: we all share a deep concern for human life and dignity. We all believe that this planet does not belong to us, but that we belong to it, and we must take good care of it.” (The Jerusalem Post)
Expressing gratitude on behalf of all Buddhists for being able to participate in the conference, Ven. Xuecheng observed that there are five major religions in China: Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Islam, and Taoism, noting that “all five emphasize peace, compassion and freedom.” In order to have a peaceful world, he said, “We must make mutual respect and understanding a goal.” (The Jerusalem Post)
Other notable guests at the summit include Swami Avdeshanand Giri, the spiritual leader of millions of Indian Hindus; WCRL secretary-general Bawa Jain; Ven. Misan Sunim of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism; Swami Paramatmananda, general secretary and convener of Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha; and Rev. Tanenori Terai, a Shinto representative from Japan.
“It is time to expand the Israel-Asia dialogue from only diplomatic and economic spheres to religion, spirituality, and faith. This is a first meeting in history between the religious leaders of Judaism and those of the eastern faiths,” said summit coordinator Simona Halperin. She added that during the summit the religious leaders would tour holy sites and discuss current events, including global warming, the environment, the status of religion in contemporary society, and the role of religion in peacemaking. (TheJewishPress.com)
Ven. Xuecheng expressed hope that the summit would lead to lasting friendships between the religious leaders in Israel. “Only if we make true friends we can really set the goal of mutual respect and understanding,” he said. “The Chinese religions are working very hard to call out other religions to help in the construction of a peaceful world.”
A distinguished scholar, Ven. Xuecheng serves as the abbot of Guanghua Temple, in Putian in his home province of Fujian, Famen Temple in Fufeng, Shaanxi Province, and Beijing’s Longquan Monastery. He was elected secretary-general of the Buddhist Association of China in 2007, and became president in 2015 (born 1966, he is the youngest monastic ever to hold the office). Ven. Xuecheng is a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and is also a popular blogger.
Far East Meets Middle East in Summit for Religious Leaders (TheJewishPress.com)
Israeli leaders meet with leaders of Eastern faith traditions (The Jerusalem Post)
When Buddha met Abraham (Arutz Sheva 7)
AJC, Foreign Ministry Host Asia Religious Leaders in Israel (PR Newswire)
Sri Lanka, China Draw Up Program to Strengthen Buddhist Ties (Buddhistdoor Global)
Vatican Extends a Call to Arms to Buddhists on Vesak Day to Address Eco-crisis (Buddhistdoor Global)
Dalai Lama Lends Weight to Interfaith Climate Change Statement (Buddhistdoor Global)
Buddhist-Christian Dialogue Workshop Held in Bodh Gaya (Buddhistdoor Global)
Bridging Differences, Building Dialogue - with Dharma Master Venerable Hsin Tao (Buddhistdoor Global)
Buddhistdoor View: Letting Go of Extremism: The Middle Way (Buddhistdoor Global)
Conscientious Compassion—Bhikkhu Bodhi on Climate Change, Social Justice, and Saving the World (Buddhistdoor Global)