Home Latest News Notice YBAM National-States Joint Meeting 2012

YBAM National-States Joint Meeting 2012

Saturday, 18 August 2012 17:05

The end of the last century marked the phenomenon where the Buddhist organisations are facing the bottle neck of the development. Apart from the internal problems such as lack of qualified personnel and successors, as well as dereasing participation in the Buddhist activities, Buddhist organisations are also facing external problems including challenges from other non-orthodox Buddhist organisations. In addition to the local Buddhist organisations, YBAM, as the leading organisation of nearly 280 Member Organisations, is also facing such challenges while working on the Dharma propagation on this land. Today, through the platform provided by the NSJM, I would like to share the following points with you.

1. Respect of Democracy, Inclusion of Dissidents

Democracy is a main factor to drive the development of an organisation and a country; democracy is also the catalyst to the change and development from one era to the other. An organisation without democracy is a lifeless organisation that sticks to a monotonous system. The YBAM, since its establishment in 1970, holds the Biennial National Convention, where delegates from the Member Organisations elected the new batch of National Council Members. This is the moment we witness the handling of baton of the leadership from the outgoing council members to the incoming council members. This leadership baton handover not only represents the passing down of the missions, it also witness the addition of the young bloods into this organisations so as to ensure the organisation keep moving forward with the momentum that is able to cope with the need of the new era. Looking over the Member Organisations in the country, leadership of many Buddhist Societies facing the problems where leaders are aged. Hence, apart from leading the Budhdist Societies with wisdom and courage, leaders would also need to train the new successors and to let the young people to try out new ideas. Of course, the younger generations would also need to stand out to bear the development of the Dharmaduta works. The democracy is achieved from the changing from outgoing batch to the incoming batch, and if this basic rule is observed, then the Dharmaduta works will be able to continued, and then we will be able to train more young bloods for the organisation.

How do we achieve the inclusion of dissidents? The future is a world of combination. We always refer to various combinations, such as the combination of East and West, the combination of the traditational culture and modern era, the combination of the Mahayana, Theravada and Vajrayana, and the combination of Sangha members and devotees. In any organisation, we see members from various backgrounds, coming with different missions and visions, and hence we are definitely expecting to face with different opinions in the organisation. Hence, working together in an organisation means we are looking at the values of “the minority follows the majority, while the majority respects the minority”. In this context, the leaders will also need to have the capability to listen to various voices and thoughts. The experienced ones should be able to cast aside their positions and to work together with the younger ones, while the youths should respect the elders and learn from their experiences. In an organisation, having different voices is not creating troubles, and hence the YBAM welcomes the interactions for the different opinions, as well as debates on the argumentative topics, but the most important thing is, we need to argue with right speech.

2. Transformation from Tradition, Braveness for Innovations

The world is changing everyday. For a same situation, people of 60’s and 80’s would tackle the problem in a different way. People of 60’s prefer books that can be held physically while people of 80’s prefer e-books. The Dharma propagation model that is used in the 60’s does not necessary applicable in the 21st century. Hence, for the same situation or problem, generations from different eras and regions would solve it in different ways. The development of the technology is so fast that today the generation gap is no longer the gap of age among the people, but the difference in between the human being in terms of relationship and culture. Therefore, we have to face the reality and improve ourselves to suit the development of the society. The 21st century is a century of uncertainty and change, and it gives us the challenges in the model of Dharma propagation, as well as our ability to face rapid changes.

Today, many Buddhist organisations are facing the problems of reduction of the devotees and lack of successors. There are also Buddhist organisations developing rapidly in the community, with some even moving towards internationalisation. If we analyse these two organisations, it represents two distinct working models: one is conservative while the other is innovative; one is static while the other is dynamic. To be of the right jusification and right opportunity is important in the works of Dharma propagation, in other words, we are working on the Dharma propagation at the right time and the right need of the community. Therefore, what the Buddhism needs today is what the modern community needs, and we propagate the Dharma according to the need of the current needs in the society. In this process, we can observe or benchmark other Buddhist societies and learn from their experiences. Today there are some leaders of the Buddhist organisations choose not to interact with other organisations, leading to the reality that the resources are not able to be shared and difficulties are faced in the Dharma propagation. In a nutshell, a strong tree (organisation) will not only need to have its root firmly planted in the soil, it also needs to receive the sunlight and fertilisers externally.

3. Realisation of Humanistic Buddhism and Community Buddhism

The concept of Buddhism in life was initiated by Venerable Master Tai Xu in the early 20th Century. Following this, Venerable Master Yin Shun further promoted the idea of humanistic Buddhism, and many Venerable Masters have defined the meaning of humanistic Buddhism in various contexts. The humanistic Buddhism has led the development of the Buddhism from a religion that talks about death, devil and deity, to a religion that focuses on the living as human being. This is an important milestone for the Buddhism.

At the same time where the Buddhist communities are putting their focal point on the Dharma propagation, they are also playing the role in benefiting the community. The Buddhist organisations are built in the community, using the resources from the community and contribute to the community. Through the community Buddhism, the Buddhist organisation is hence becomes the activity centre for the community, and the family will be able to conduct various interactive activities in this common space. School children will be able to use the temple for the revision of study, while parents will be able to use the place for the other activities. Traditionally, the successors of a Buddhist organisation come from the Dharma Classes or Young Adult Division. However, today, the decrease of the number of participants of the Dharma Classes or Young Adult Divisions is a fact that faced by most of the Buddhist organisations. The realisation of the Community Buddhism enables the Buddhist organisation to be closer to the cmmunity, and to be accpeted by the community; at the same time, we are also able to develop another way for Dharma propagation and nuture of successors.

4. From Initial Intention to Great Vows

The Dharmaduta works is not temporary but a continuous work for every one of us. The delegence in Dharma propagation leads to the continuous existance of Buddhism in this world; and the development of the Buddhism depends on the persistance involvements of the disciples. In view of this, the leaders of the YBAM will need to review their initial intention of the involvement in the Dharmaduta works. In addition, they will also need to have great vows to serve the others, and to vow for “Buddhism depends on me!”

We need to focus on the serving the public in the Buddhist organisations, and not to put too much of importance on ourselves. Hence we are able to work peacefully with everyone in the organisation. The organisation is not the platform for personal performance, but the contribution from each and every one. Venerable Master Hsing Yun mentioned about that the lifespan of 300 years, is referring to having contribution from every one to complete a great task that would need 300 years to complete. These are my observation and learnings throughout the years in the Buddhism, and I would also like to quote a phrase from Venerable Master Yin Shun to conclude my address: “for the Buddhism, for the human beings”

I wish the NSJM will be conductd as planned and may you be well and happy. Thank you.