All beings are born with innate spirituality and ecology makes no exception. But when people are blinded by endless desires, we lose sight of ourselves and the spirituality of a diversified symbiosis that is ecology.
With the global environmental awareness on the rise, the Government of Myanmar has given priorities to ecological issues and the co-operation with the Italian quango Istituto Oikos and the Lampi Marine National Park is a case in point. To conserve and protect ecological diversity. a thousand trees have also been planted in the Maha Kusala Yama Monastery of Ling Jiou Mountain (LJM) at Naung Mon. These are model examples for marine ecology and plantation and as such, they manifest LJM’s all-out effort of the ‘Loving the Earth / Loving Peace’ ideal and campaign.
As a pilot project of the future University for Life & Peace, Winter School 2020 in a program presently taking place in Yangon Myanmar with faculty members from eight countries like the USA, England, China, Myanmar, Malaysia, etc., and the student body made up by elites from eleven prestigious campuses like Yale, Cambridge, Beijing University, and so on. Winter School 2020 successfully captures media attention not just because it is a prestigious program dedicated to ecology, but because its in-depth contents for discourses shed light on what concerns Myanmar presently.
Winter School 2020 organizers built into the curriculum ‘The Myanmar Day’ as a platform that features expert talks on the country’s only marine national park, legal framework, administrative opportunities, suburban development, binding national and international laws on environmental protection, etc. LJM’s Master Heng Ming also shared his experiences in hands-on education and farming at a Naung Mon bio-farm. The media, eg. Radio Free Asia, had a field day with one-on-one interviews for in-depth feature stories.
Since the opening of the Winter School 2020 to-date, there have been many media contacts for, and coverage about, the pilot program. News programs such as UpToDate of Myanmar, Mingalaba for Myanmar-Singapore, and Myanmar’s authoritative TV network Sky Net. The latter with all its three main channels covering Buddhism, education, and news, sent reporters for on-location interviews as well as taping full-length footage of the curriculum of a fortnight for its rich and diversified contents. The curriculum seeks to explore the root causes for the conflict of natural resources, as well as issues on how to best optimize the ethics of biology by virtue of state-of-the-art applications of technologies. Discourses are conducted in formats ranging from forums over group discussions to role-playing, among others, to engage participants to the fullest towards optimal results.
Dharma Master Hsin Tao pointed out in an interview that the Earth’s problems with ecology have arisen from its disintegration from spirituality, and there are many examples in Buddha’s teachings that relate to ecology, and Buddha treats people and all beings with love and compassion. It was also mentioned that people’s insatiable appetite for material desires has led to excessive consumerism and the run-away emission of carbon dioxide, thereby causing severe damage to the ecology. All beings are born with innate spirituality and ecology makes no exception. But when people are blinded by endless desires, we lose sight of ourselves and the spirituality of a diversified symbiosis that is ecology.
Dharma Master also cited examples of the Naung Mon Bio-Farm, which grows produces without harming the soil in an effort to teach how to cherish and care for the land. Experiences of the Naung Mon Bio-Farm can be of value as key references for action plans of sustainability, while currently serving as materials for case studies for Winter School 2020.
Highly illustrative cases profiled and examined for sharing at Winter School 2020 afford the conviction that the increasing size of the world population disproportionately accelerates exploitations of natural resources, rendering it a daunting task to heal the Earth and restore the ecology. Dharma Master Hsin Tao hardly ever gives up any commitment and that applies to the present case in point. He subscribes to the notion that the future University for Life & Peace will enable solutions to healing the Earth by virtue of cross-discipline and -domain co-operations that embody transformative actions for ecology and technology.
As the highest-ranking and most revered Buddhist guru of Myanmar and himself the founder of five Buddhist universities, Sitagu Sayadaw Dr. Ashin Nyanissara personally attended the commencement ceremony of Winter School 2020 to give blessings. Sitagu Sayadaw approves of the theme of ‘Healing the Earth’ and the curriculum built around that theme, and he asked for a set of copies of the program contents for sharing among the universities he founded.
Myanmar enjoys a long history of upholding Buddhism as its hereditary, priceless assets. Local media, therefore, find it convincing the way how Dharma Master Hsin Tao explains the positive interrelations between spirituality, ecology, and technologies and how the future University for Life & Peace will transform theories into practices, how the innovative interactions for learning will be capable of generating energy of wisdom to positively impact people for 360-degree self-examinations and concrete lifestyle changes for collective action plans that ensue.