The Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia (YBA) organized a national workshop earlier this month on the theme “National Intellectual & Compassion Workshop for A Better Nation.” The interfaith event was aimed at highlighting the importance of tolerance and compassion in nurturing harmony for a diverse and inclusive society.
The symposium, which was live-streamed on 10 December, was held in collaboration with the Taipei-headquartered Indonesian Taiwan Buddhist Community.
“Religious moderation has come to the fore as we examine the importance of tolerance as a foundation stone for the life of the nation and the state,” YBA chairman Billy Lukito Joeswanton shared with BDG: “Diversity without mutual understanding between individuals and communities, and between religious adherents, carries the potential for disaster. Instead, religion can bring us blessings and is actually present on Earth to serve as a soothing oasis of self-knowledge and compassion for human society.”
The Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia (YBA) is the leading Buddhist youth organization in Indonesia. Through a deeply held conviction in the Buddha’s message of compassion, growth, and liberation, the association promotes a positive lifestyle among the young to develop a society founded on wisdom, compassion, and gratitude. The association is involved in establishing Buddhist organizations nationwide, propagating the study of the Dharma among young people, and providing leadership training.
The national workshop featured two keynote speakers: the esteemed senior Buddhist monk Bhikkhu Santacitto, PhD, and Dr. K. H. Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, Indonesia’s 22nd Minister of Religious Affairs. The event was also attended by the director-general for the Guidance of the Buddhist Community, under the Ministry of Religion, Drs. Supriyadi.
Speaking on religion in the national context, Bhikkhu Santacitto explained: “In addition to the study of religion, we should grasp what is explicit and implied: practicing religion is based on compassion, compassion that extends universally to all creatures. And all of this needs to be based on wisdom.”
Bhikkhu Santacitto noted that the existence of violence perpetrated by members of certain religious communities should not be attributed to adherence to a particular religion, but to the way the teachings of a religion are understood and practiced: “Here it becomes important to understand the relationship between religion and national life.”
Former Minister of Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Saifuddin emphasized two points in his address: first, the diversity of society; and second, spirituality and religion, which he described as the inner strength of the Indonesian nation.
Saifuddin noted that religion was the foundation of the individual as well as the foundation of society and the nation, and as such, it is essential to understand the relationship between religion and the state and the unique circumstances of Indonesia’s multicultural society.
In the context of this diversity, he said, religion and the state are like two sides of a coin—and as such harmony in diversity is essential because they represent a single whole that cannot be divided.
Veny Tjita, chair of the Indonesian Taiwan Buddhist Community and chair of the 2022 National Workshop Committee observed in conclusion: “The progress of the country depends on the intelligence of the people, but this intelligence must also be accompanied by wisdom and love.”
Although officially a secular state, Indonesia is home to a diversity of communities and religious and spiritual traditions. Islam is the most widespread religion, observed by 86.7 per cent of the population, according to national data for 2018. Christian traditions account for a combined 10.7 per cent, Hinduism 1.7 per cent, and Confucianism, folk, and other traditions account for a combined 0.08 per cent.
Buddhism, practiced by 0.8 per cent of the population—roughly two million people—is the second oldest spiritual tradition in Indonesia after Hinduism. According to historical accounts, Buddhism’s first flourished on the archipelago around the sixth century, which was followed by ascent and decline of o number of powerful Buddhist empires, including the Shailendra dynasty (c. 8th–9th centuries), the Srivijaya empire (c. 7th–12th centuries), and the Mataram empire (c. 8th–11th centuries). Today, the majority of Indonesian Buddhists are affiliated with Mahayana schools of Buddhism, although communities of Theravada and Vajrayana practitioners also exist.
Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia
Young Buddhist Association (YBA) of Indonesia (Instagram)
Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia (Facebook)
Indonesia Taiwan Buddhist Community – ITBC (Facebook)
Indonesia Taiwan Buddhist Community (Instagram)
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