Buddhism conference to address secular illsOn the surface, Korean Buddhism appears to revolve around devout monks, shrouded in robes, removed from the secular world’s problems in their remote mountain retreats.
The Korean Chapter of the International Network for Engaged Buddhists, however, will change that perception by welcoming Buddhists from 33 countries to a global conference covering issues as diverse as gender and human rights, development and poverty, as well as topics on Buddhist philosophy.
The worldwide Buddhist network will hold its 2003 conference in Yongin, Gyeonggi province, about an hour southeast of Seoul, from July 20 to 25. Proceedings will take place at the Samsung Life Human Center building.
Forums are aimed at Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, organizers say, by setting forth a modern, activist tone for Buddhism. The Network’s adviser, Sulak Sivaraksa, explains that suffering in the world today has become so complex that individual enlightenment must be accompanied by collective action. That belief forms the basis for a new generation of “socially engaged Buddhists,” the adviser says.
This year’s conference, the network’s first in Northeast Asia, will be significant to Korean Buddhism.
Thirteen monks, led by Mr. Sulak of Thailand and Teuro Maruyama of Japan, founded the network in 1989 with the goal of promoting exchange of information and opinions among Buddhists worldwide. Since that time, the organization has drawn attention to international issues such as the exile of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhists’ spiritual leader, and oppression of Vietnamese monks. The network also sponsors activities and educational programs aimed at resolving problems related to the environment and human rights, such as building colleges, donating organs and cadavers to hospitals for medical research and donating blood and money to the Red Cross.
To enroll in the conference, visit the Korea chapter of International Network for Engaged Buddhists at www.inebseoul.org. Participation includes lunch for three days.
by Brian Moon