Beijing Forum on Love and Forgiveness:
Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist Dialogue with Contemporary Society
Responding to the Call of the International Day of Peace
and the Week of Global Interfaith Dialogue
In response to the theme of the 2013 International Day of Peace, “Education for Peace”, the Global Family for Love and Peace (GFLP) and Peking University co-organized a Forum on “Love and Forgiveness: Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist Dialogue with Contemporary Society.” The forum was co-hosted by the Museum of World Religions (MWR) and the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society in Taiwan, the U.S. based Fetzer Institute, and the Center for Buddhist Studies at Peking University. As a part of the Week of Global Interreligious Dialogue, the forum sought to rediscover and discuss enduring spiritual values in Chinese culture as contributions to multicultural harmonious coexistence.
Master Hsin Tao founded the Museum of World Religions (MWR) in 2001 to promote Interfaith dialogue and world peace. To further spread his vision of peace, he delivered a keynote speech entitled “Compassion and Forgiveness in Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism” at the forum. Renowned scholars from China and Germany were invited to the meeting, including Yu-Lie Lou, Professor of Philosophy and Honorary Dean of the Academy of Religious Studies at Peking University, and Professor Michael von Bruck, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Munich in Germany. Students of Peking University and representatives from various fields joined us to explore and discuss the meaning and practices of love and forgiveness in the three traditions. We hope that the successful forum will further deepen the students’ understanding of the harmonious culture of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism, and provide inspiring examples of values for the contemporary world.
GFLP has promoted Interfaith and Peace work since its inception in 2002, especially also through its continuous series of Buddhist-Muslim Dialogues around the world, one of which was held at Peking University in 2006. In the same spirit, GFLP wishes to spread the spirit of love and forgiveness in the world through this forum. In his opening remarks, Mr. Sharif Azami, Representative of Fetzer Foundation, a philanthropic organization in the U.S., also highlighted the importance of sharing examples of love and forgiveness with the rest of the world.
In his keynote speech, Master Hsin Tao said that his meditation practice led him to realize the spirit of benevolence and forgiveness expressed in Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. This realization helped him to understand what sustains the universe - harmonious coexistence. Nothing in the world can exist on its own; we are all deeply interconnected. The biosphere is configured and sustained by delicate balances among diverse species and groups. One extinguished species might be all it takes to turn the biosphere against us. Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism have been aware of this problem from the very beginning, and therefore stressed the importance of multicultural harmonious coexistence. This coexistence is based on the ethics of “benevolence and forgiveness.” Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism can thus offer examples of values in helping us visualize a world of multicultural harmonious coexistence.
Master Hsin Tao founded MWR based on “Respect, Tolerance and Love”; and the Museum is an example of the realization of the spirit of benevolence and forgiveness. He has long been promoting interfaith dialogue, understanding, and cooperation among different religions through the works of GFLP, which is an example of the realization of the spirit of multicultural harmonious coexistence. Master Hsin Tao also plans to build a University of Life and Peace to educate students towards responsible leadership, to foster understanding, love, compassion and forgiveness in students, and to bring goodness to people’s daily life. This is another contribution towards the realization of the ultimate vision - a global family of peace and love.
The forum consisted of the following three panels: 1) “Contemporary Significance of Confucian Thoughts on Benevolence and Forgiveness”, 2) “Compassion and Forgiveness in Contemporary Buddhist Practice”, and 3) “Classic Interpretation and Practical Significance of Taoist Thoughts on Loving Kindness”. We hope that rediscovering the resilient spirit of Chinese culture will help create a peaceful world in which differences among ethnic groups, cultures and religions will be embraced, no longer causing conflicts and suffering.
The Western Christian tradition not only emphasizes God’s love and forgiveness for humankind, but also encourages believers to imitate God’s love and forgiveness. Eastern religious traditions focus on the original goodness of human nature, and can serve to promote peace as a core value. Buddhists speak about “universal loving kindness and compassion”, Confucians exhort us to“love all people and animals; forgive others as you forgive yourself”, and Taoists tell us to “emulate nature;” reminding us that “nature is the mother of all things”. All these thoughts can lay the ethical foundation for peace.
We hope that the forum, through its lively presentations and discussions, will serve to further disseminate the values of peace and harmony that are at the heart of Chinese culture, both in China and the world beyond.