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Korean Buddhist Leaders Appeal for Symbiosis

By Lee Hyo-won, The Korea Times, May 1, 2008

Seoul, South Korea -- Leaders from the local Buddhist sects gave messages of hope and peace Wednesday to celebrate the coming of Buddha, which falls May 12 this year. Living in symbiosis, the four Venerables said, is the most important lesson of Buddha's birthday.

<< Buddhist leaders delivered a congratulatory message to celebrate Buddha's upcoming birthday. From left are Ven. Jigwan, executive chief of the Korean Buddhist Jogye Order; Ven. Unsan, executive chief of the Taego Order; and Ven. Jeongsan, executive chief of the Cheontae Order. / Yonhap

"Buddha has waited an infinite amount of time to be reborn as an incarnation of love,'' said Ven. Jigwan, executive chief of the Korean Buddhist Jogye Order. ``The coming of Buddha reminds us to respect one another and pursue harmonious symbiosis as the greatest virtue.

"Mankind has no future without nature; East cannot enjoy the abundance of the West by abandoning its own virtues; and as far as we coexist with less fortunate neighboring Asian countries, newfound wealth is but a nominal illusion,'' he said. ``The traditions, power and human dignity of our community, which connects the past and future, can only be sustained through our neighbors, who may be different from us.''

Ven. Unsan, executive chief of the Taego Order said, ``Humans and nature should maintain a cause and effect relationship. But modern people, dominated by materialism, lead inhuman lives. In time for the coming of Buddha, let us illuminate the light in our hearts and escape from the `Five Desires' (materialism, sexual lust, gluttony, ambition and sleep) as well as the `Three Poisons' (avarice, wrath and ignorance).''

Ven. Jeongsan, executive chief of the Cheontae Order, said ``the true meaning of Buddha's birthday is not celebrating the birth of Prince Siddhartha.'' Rather, ``it reminds us of how precious man and all living things are. It teaches us that everything is interconnected and exists according to the principles of the universe.

``A gun fire in the Middle East can worsen the sales of a local fruit vendor, and the moment we abandon ill feelings and say warm words, a smile may spread on the face of an African child,'' he said.

Ven. Hwejeong, executive chief of the Jingak Order, explained that the coming of Buddha is about ``realizing that you and I are no different. We must respect and support one another.

``If each follower makes an effort to execute the Buddha's teachings into words and actions, our community will fall into place, society at large will be purged, the nation will be fortified and humankind will find peace and harmony,'' he said.

The Vatican also sent greetings to Buddhist organizations around the world for Buddha's Birthday, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea announced Wednesday.

``It gives me much joy to recall the positive relationship that Catholics and Buddhists have enjoyed for many years,'' wrote Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Titled ``Christians and Buddhists: Caring for the Planet Earth,'' the message further said: ``Preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development and particular attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for everyone… On a practical level can we Christians and Buddhists not do more to collaborate in projects which confirm the responsibility that falls to each and everyone of us?''

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