An article I wrote about the INEB Conference for Hongshi magazine (弘誓雙月刊) has now been published. I will post the article below in Chinese with English translation. I also wrote several posts about the conference and study tour in September.
Also on 24-25 November there will be an International Conference on Religious Culture and Gender Ethics at Hsuan Chuang University (玄裝大學) in Xinzhu. The conference is being organised by Hongshi Cultural Foundation and Hsuan Chuang University. The conference includes speakers from Taiwan and abroad representing all the major religious traditions. I will be a volunteer at the conference and it is sure to be another great experience.
INEB大會在台灣 (INEB Conference in Taiwan)
This year in May I went to Bangkok and visited Ajarn Sulak. He informed me that the next INEB (International Network of Engaged Buddhists) Conference would be held in Taiwan. I said I was willing to help. When I came back to Taiwan I got in touch with Dr Yo and started to help with the conference planning.
At the end of July I went to Buddhist Hongshi College with Dr Yo and met Ven. Chao Hwei for the first time. She showed me a copy of the Hongshi magazine. In the magazine I saw a photo and article by the Thai monk, Phra Paisan. I was very happy because I greatly respect him and think his ideas are very interesting.
The time preparing for the conference was very busy; there were so many things to do. When the time of the conference finally came and the INEB members arrived at Hongshi College the preparations had reached their end. I was so happy to meet some old friends and see all the members, men and women, young and old, monks and nuns, come to Taiwan for the conference.
The opening ceremony was very special. It started with drumming, then Ven. Shing Guang and the students of Hongshi College solemnly entered the main hall and began chanting the offering of incense to the Buddha and the Heart Sutra. All the INEB members then came forward and offered flowers to the Buddha. Yeh Chu-lan, Secretary-General of the Presidential Office, then gave a speech about her personal experience of Buddhism. I found that even though she has an important political position she is still able to apply the Buddha’s teachings to her work and life.
The two days of the conference had such a rich program. I was busy behind the scenes organizing many things, so I wasn’t able to join many activities. I was so grateful for all the help from the students of Hongshi College and the volunteers who made everything run so smoothly.
At the closing ceremony on the third day Ajarn Sulak invited Ven. Chao Hwei to become INEB’s fourth patron. I thought this was a very important occasion because previously all INEB’s patrons were bhikkhu. Ven. Chao Hwei is the first bhikkhuni to become patron. This represents a realisation of INEB’s vision of gender equality.
會議之後有四天的參訪到台灣北、中、南部參觀佛教的組織。參訪的目的是讓INEB 會員了解台灣的佛教發展狀況。豐富的行程包括佛寺、大學、電視臺、醫院、教育基金會、有機食物商店、茶藝館、博物館等。我最大的印象就是佛教結合社會，而且台灣佛教不僅大的有名的組織，更有很多小的組織在不同的領域認真地發揮功能。舉例來說：耕讀園是一個佛化的餐廳，老闆在學佛以後，決定餐廳要提供客戶有機的食物。又如我之前在別的國家常看到有人在讀「佛陀教育基金會」所印製的書籍，所以我對他們很有好感，這次參訪看到他們有提供２０多種不同語言的佛學書籍，覺得他們真不簡單。在永和的「世界宗教博物館」，我最高興的是見到了心道法師，他原本在閉關，但因為Ajarn Sulak來台，法師特別出關和Sulak見面。
After the conference there was a four day study tour to Buddhist organizations in northern, central and southern Taiwan. The objective of the tour was to enable INEB members to get to know some of the Buddhist organizations in Taiwan. The schedule included visits to Buddhist temples, a university, a television station, a hospital, an educational foundation, an organic food store, a museum and a traditional tea house. My strongest impression was the strong links between Buddhism and the community and that as well as the large, well-known Buddhist organizations, there are many smaller organizations enthusiastically engaged in many different fields. For example, the Keng Tu Yuan Restaurant decided to serve organic food because of the influence of Buddhism. I have seen people in several countries using the books published by the Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation, so it was great to see their office. I found out they have published books in over 20 different languages. At the Museum of World Religions I was so happy to see Master Hsin Tao. He came out of retreat especially to meet with Ajarn Sulak.
On the final night in Taipei Ven. Chao Hwei and Ven. Shing Guang hosted a banquet. Everybody said thanks and looked forward to the next INEB conference in two years. I must express my gratitude to Ven. Chao Hwei, the students at Hongshi College and all the volunteers for making the conference so successful. I also hope INEB and Hongshi College can continue to work together in the future.