Hello INEB Friends, to all of you who follow our activities and support us, we wish you a Happy New Year!
Last November, we organized a conference in Taiwan – The International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) 18th General Conference: A Conference on Interbeing: Transforming Conflict by Compassion with Exposure and Retreat “The Challenge for Engaged Buddhism in the Next Decade”. The conference was held from November 22-29, 2017, at Hong-Shi Buddhist College in Taoyuan district of Taiwan.
During the conference, our hosts, the Taiwanese people, surprised us on so many levels. They were very warm and friendly. In addition, for a developed Asian country like Taiwan, prices were surprisingly affordable. And the street food? Phenomenal! We all were not aware of this, which is probably why it was so surprising.
Our first visit in Taiwan was to the Dharma Drum Mountain Monastery. Master Sheng Yen, founder of Dharma Drum Mountain, dedicated decades of his life to spreading the Buddhadharma globally, guiding through his Chan practice, sharing Buddhist compassion and wisdom with people around the world. His idea of protecting the spiritual environment has been widely valued and recognized internationally.
Based on the Master’s infinite compassionate vows, Dharma Drum Mountain’s branch monasteries and practice centers worldwide have been promoting three-fold education and four kinds of environmentalism, endeavoring to help purify human minds and society, in hopes of sowing the seeds of world peace through joint efforts to realize the goal of “building a pure land on earth.”
Our second visit was to the Tzu Chi Foundation. It was a wonderful place, the staff of the Foundation were very friendly and nice. Tzu Chi Foundation focuses on giving material aid to the needy, and inspiring love and humanity to both givers and receivers. In addition to charity, the foundation dedicates itself in the fields of medicine, education, environmental protection, international relief work, and the establishment of a marrow donor registry. It also promotes humanistic values and community volunteerism. Through helping those in need, Tzu Chi volunteers take on the path of bodhisattva practices, the way to Buddhahood.
Alongside the exposure visits, the main conference explored the aspirations and challenges for socially engaged Buddhism at a deeper level, with a series of presentations, discussions, and workshops led by members of the global INEB community on activities, projects, and initiatives in communities around the world.
The concluding three-day meditation retreat provided participants with an opportunity for reflection and self examination on the experiences and learning points shared over the preceding five days.
On behalf of all INEB staff, I would like express deep gratitude, and say “thank you very much” to our Taiwanese hosts at Dharma Drum Mountain, Tzu Chi Foundation and Hong-Shi Buddhist College, who were our main hosts of the INEB 18th General Conference.