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An international meeting of 280 Buddhists was held in New Delhi from September 9th to 12th to launch a united voice of wisdom and compassion. The historic First Founding Members’ conclave welcomed leading Buddhist representatives and lineage heads from 36 countries for discussion of issues ranging from preservation of Buddhist heritage, traditions and practices to promoting equality, engaged compassionate action and protecting the environment.
Following the New Delhi conclave, the delegates visited Patna and the holy site of Bodhgaya – the place where Lord Buddha attained Great Awakening – as guests of the Government of Bihar. The IBC delegates witnessed the efforts being made towards the preservation and development of Buddhist heritage and the necessary steps for further conservation and management. They also prayed for peace, harmony and understanding at the Mahabodhi Temple Complex which was target of recent bomb blasts.
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A UNITED VOICE OF BUDDHISM OFFICIALY FORMED IN INDIA
From September 9th to 12th a meeting of 250 Buddhist leaders from 39 countriesgathered in New Delhi for the 1st Founding Members Conclave of the International Buddhist Confederation. During the meeting eminent and experience speakers on topics of concern to the Buddhist community as well as those topics of concern to all mankind.
The importance of caring for and managing the collective Buddhist heritage was discussed in the context of revitalizing the living Buddhist heritage of India. The importance of protecting the sanctity of holy sites, relics and places of pilgrimage came out as a strong thread in the meeting, as places where practitioners can gather, learn, study and practice. A focus of the meeting was the development and management of the Mahabodhi Temple complex of Bodhgaya – the holiest of holies for the 400 million Buddhists of the world.
The importance of sharing collective wisdom between Buddhists traditions was raised along with the determination to focus of the common ground of the diverse Buddhist traditions represented at the meeting, beginning with the shared root guru for all Buddhists–Lord Buddha. Not only improving understanding and respect between Buddhist traditions but also the importance of improving understanding between other religious faiths was noted. The Conclave resolved to take a firm stand against violence wherever it rears its head, that begins with the hearts and minds of individuals themselves.
The delegates heard how the Buddha Dhamma is being threatened in many parts of the world, largely a due to a disconnect with the younger generation, and the need was highlighted to find new ways to reach out to the younger generation so they can see that Buddha’s message is as relevant to them in modern day as it was for a 20 year old 2600 years ago. Along these lines there were a number of discussions on ways to use technology and the media to preserve and share the Buddha’s teachings and make them more easily accessible. The issue of gender equality in Buddhism was raised repeatedly by both male and female delegates, with a special session on the the revival of the full nuns ordination lineage in traditions where it has been lost, and the establishment of full nuns ordination in the Tibetan tradition where the full nun ordination lineage never reached.
The plenary heard powerful messages from scientists, policy makers and religious leaders on the need for a concerted Buddhist response to the environmental crisis, and how a network between politicians, scientists and Buddhists can create meaningful change. The environmental crisis was presented as the most pressing moral issue of our time, and there was a long discussion Chaired by His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Thinley Dorjee, on this topic. In this vein there was also serious discussion of the idea of Buddhists engaging global bodies and governments on issues such as conflict resolution, the environment, social issues and inter-faith relations.
The IBC has 12 patrons of esteemed Buddhist leaders from countries around the world. A 50 -member Governing Body of the IBC was elected by the member delegates. Ven. Lama Lobzang, President of Asoka Mission was elected to Secretary General. The IBC includes a presidium of presidents and vice-presidents, the Secretariat, and an Executive Committee.
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