Keynote Address by Dharma Master Hsin Tao
Dharma Master Hsin Tao
Founder of Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society & University for Life and Peace
Dear Professors, Research Fellows, Amitabha!
You've come here to Myanmar, travelling from thousands of miles away. If that;s not a mission, I don't know what is.
For everyone who's worked so hard on this project, today's opening is an incredibly exciting and meaningful event. This experimental class has seed teachers and students from fifteen countries and regions, and your participation in this educational alliance of spiritual values and scientific study is a milestone. We don't have that long here together, but our hearts are as one, and we are devoted, solemn, and full of expectation.
Environmental crises have posed the planet's most devastating challenges in recent years, with horrifying extreme weather events and the extinction of species. The recent “12-year Ultimatum" issued by the United Nations was a wake-up call. We can no longer sit by and do nothing.
Interdisciplinary research indicates that the human civilization has existed on Earth not merely for the few thousand years of the current phase, but for tens of thousands of years, or even longer. There may have been other periods of high civilizational development that even surpassed our own in their science and technology, but they were wiped from the face of the Earth, or died out piece by piece—all because of environmental destruction. There is something common in the stories of these lost civilizations: when human beings destroy the organic nature of the environment, sustainability is lost and irreversible ecological crises ensue, which eventually leads to the decline and disappearance of civilization.
We might say that our advanced science and technology can keep us afloat or capsize us. Continuous scientific progress can increase levels of production in agriculture and industry, and it can increase life's convenience. But if we do not consider environmental sustainability, we will inevitably exhaust our natural resources and leave behind worldwide devastation. War, famine and sickness can topple civilizations in the blink of an eye.
However, hidden behind these events are the five poisons in our hearts: greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance and doubt. These are at the root of all suffering and the ultimate source of our environmental crises. Anger creates opposition, conflict, hatred and war. Anger created the nuclear arms race. Anger created terrorism. Greed brings invasion and plunder, makes everything a means to an end and provokes competition. Greed leads to capitalism and consumerism. All of these pose serious threats to the Earth's resources and destroy the environment.
The deterioration of the global environment clearly affects us very deeply. Issues such as which path to take for human social development and the mutual benefit between good governance and environmental protection have gradually attracted worldwide attention, but the necessary solutions remain far off. The ecosystem is the holistic sum of the entire living system on Earth. This ecosystem is organic, and the destruction of this organism would be an irreversible disaster. The world's leaders have a duty to come to consensus and strive to save the planet.
Ecology is rooted in spirituality. Life is the continuation of memory. Through spirituality, everything is connected internally, and life is endless. If we are one in spirit, our ecology will be positively interactive, harmonious, symbiotic and mutually supportive. If our spirit becomes decadent, greed, anger and ignorance will gradually destroy that on which we depend to live, it will engulf everything on which living things depend, and the memory of species will be destroyed and the natural environment will very likely follow. Therefore, the key to the Earth's safety can only be spiritual awakening: the human mind must awaken and come to understand the roots of the Earth's crisis; we must put forward a spiritual ecological ethics and use scientific principles to set up social laws in harmony with nature.
As a faithful believer and practitioner of Buddhism, I also promote the mission to love the Earth. I firmly believe that all solutions that are conducive to Earth's survival must be rooted in the awakening of global ethics and morality. Only the ecological law of multiple symbiosis and mutual prosperity and coexistence truly reflects the interdependence of all living things. Through in-depth academic study and education of peaceful coexistence with the environment, we shall increase human ingenuity and so fulfil the founding purpose of the University of Life and Peace.
The decision to open a cutting-edge experimental research winter school in Yangon, Myanmar, is a milestone for the university. Both the time and the place for this undertaking are deeply meaningful. I believe that, with the guidance of your wisdom and compassion, the winter school training program will surely become the key to improving the global environment in the future. Moreover, with the interest and support of international experts in all fields, in this fertile soil the seed of the Earth love movement will sprout and blossom and bear fruit. At the same time, we believe that teachers and students coming from all corners of the world will enrich the curriculum for this semester, making it a peak experience of practice and theory. I wish you all a happy and fulfilling learning process.
Finally, I hope we can work together to make a “global ecology ethics” based on spiritual resonance, so that this education will be quick, effective, profound and practical, and continue to attract the finest teachers in the world who wish to join us. Let's nurture the seeds of peace in “coexistence and interconnectedness” from generation to generation so that Earth can regain vitality, and let us lead the planet towards a higher civilization.