The “Global Buddhist Summit 2023”— a two-day congregation in New Delhi that concluded on April 21— is a first-of-its-kind event.
Hosted by the International Buddhist Confederation in collaboration with the Indian Ministry of Culture, the event saw participation of delegates from nearly 30 countries, including major Buddhist countries like Taiwan, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Mongolia. Those in attendance included monks, scholars, nuns and heads of Buddhist organisations.
The aim behind the “Global Buddhist Summit” was to internalise universal values, find ways to work together in a harmonious manner and offer a sustainable model for the future of the world. The summit was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and concluded on a positive note that peace is the foundation for human happiness and well-being. The theme of the two-day “Global Buddhist Summit” was “Responses to Contemporary Challenges: Philosophy to Praxis”.
The Summit called upon all nations, organisations and individuals to work towards creating a world free from conflict, violence and war
The first session was aimed at sharing knowledge and promoting values that represented a united front for Buddhism and tackling issues confronting the world.
“The noble teachings of Gautama Buddha have impacted countless people over centuries. Inspired by the teachings of Bhagwan Buddha, India is taking new initiatives for global welfare”, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the inaugural session of the “Global Buddhist Summit” on April 20.
“Buddha is an understanding beyond the person, Buddha is a thought beyond the form, Buddha is a consciousness beyond the image, and this consciousness of the Buddha is eternal and constant. This thought is eternal, this understanding is unforgettable,” said PM Modi.
India has had its firsts in so many fields, and it has derived great inspiration for the same from Bhagwan Buddha. That’s why today people from different countries, and different geographical-cultural environments are present here together”– Narendra Modi, Prime Minister
PM Modi further said that India is moving ahead in Amrit Kaal towards becoming a developed country and the biggest inspiration behind the same is Bhagwan Buddha. “India has resolved for the welfare of not only India but also for the whole wide world,” he added.
Notably, the Global Buddhist Summit was held at a time when India is celebrating 75 years of her Independence, PM Modi said that India has continuously spread the values of Bhagwan Buddha. “The path of Buddha is Pariyakti, Patipatti and Pativedha. This means theory, practice and realisation. In the last nine years, India has progressed rapidly on all these three points,” he said.
The Prime Minister further stressed that when many people come together with a vision for a better future, “the future will indeed be magnificent”.
“India has had its firsts in so many fields, and it has derived great inspiration for the same from Bhagwan Buddha. That’s why today people from different countries, and different geographical-cultural environments are present here together,” PM Modi said while adding that Bhagwan Buddha unites the entire humanity in one thread. PM Modi also underscored the importance of the path of Buddha, adding that his path is of the future and the path of sustainability.
During his speech, PM Modi made an important observation, which was acknowledged by eminent intellectuals and Buddhist practitioners, when he said, “India has not given Yudh (war) to the world, but Buddha.”
“The war and unrest that the world is suffering from today. Centuries ago, Bhagwan Buddha gave a solution. The journey of solving problems is the journey of Buddha. India considers the sorrow of every human being as its sorrow,” PM Modi said.
GBS 2023 reiterated that IBC members are committed to protect the environment and promoting sustainable development
“Bhagwan Buddha has taught the path to overcome these. Enmity cannot vanish with enmity but with love. Actual happiness lies in peace, in living together with peace. If we want to make the world happy, then this Buddha mantra of inclusiveness is the only way by leaving the self, the world, the narrow thinking,” said PM Modi.
Referring to the earthquake in Turkey, PM Modi said, “Be it peace missions in different countries of the world or a calamity like an earthquake in Turkey… India stands with humanity in times of every crisis, with Mum Bhav, by putting its full potential.”
He also informed how India played a key role in improving the Buddha circuit.
Prime Minister also mentioned the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war in his speech. “The path of Buddha is the path of the future, the path of sustainability. If the world had followed the teachings of Buddha, then even a crisis like climate change would not have come in front of us. This crisis occurred because, in the last century, some countries did not think about others, about future generations,” he said.
Be it peace missions in different countries or a calamity like an earthquake in Turkey, India stands with humanity in times of every crisis, with Mum Bhav, by putting its full potential, he said.
Dalai Lama’s Message for Humanity
On April 21, while addressing the “Global Buddhist Summit 2023”, His Holiness Dalai Lama, the revered Tibetan Buddhist spiritual Guru drew the attention of Buddhist thinkers to the ongoing situation prevailing in Tibet. His Holiness said the current situation in Tibet could make one lose hope but thinking of it from the perspective of Buddhist teachings would give one resilience.
Dalai Lama also spoke about how studying Buddhist philosophies and imbibing values have given him the courage to face Tibet’s struggle and its current situation. “For example, in the case of my dealing with the current struggle and situation of Tibet, if you just think only about it from a narrow-angle, you can lose hope. But if you look at this crisis from the broader perspective of the courage that the cultivation of Bodhicitta (mind of awakening) and compassion give you, then you can have a much more resilient mind,” he added.
“The Buddha’s teaching of emptiness helps us see that what we perceive does not reflect reality. Then we can overcome our feelings of attachment and craving. And when we do that, the mind becomes pure”-H H Dalai Lama. Tibetan Buddhist spiritual Guru
Talking about compassion, Dalai Lama said that it is at the heart of the Buddha’s teaching. Chandrakirti indicates this when he pays homage to compassion at the opening of his ‘Entering into the Middle Way’. He compares compassion to a seed, to the moisture that allows the seed to grow and to the eventual fruit, he said.
“Many of the problems we face are to do with how we view reality. We tend to accept that things exist in the way they appear. We project a sense of reality onto what appears before us. The Buddha’s teaching of emptiness helps us see that what we perceive does not reflect reality. Then we can overcome our feelings of attachment and craving. And when we do that, the mind becomes pure,” he said.
Dalai Lama further said that, “Among all the great spiritual teachers of the world, one thing that really defines the Buddha as a unique teacher from the Buddhist point of view is his teaching on dependent origination and it really captures the essence of Buddhist insight and Buddha’s teaching. When we look at the term itself, Dependent origination is composed of two syllables, one is dependent and the second is origination. These two capture a powerful insight into the understanding of the nature of reality.”
While speaking to Organiser, Ven Dr Dhammapiya, Secretary General, the International Buddhist Confederation, suggested that all communities of the Buddhist Sangha need to step forward to address the challenges before us in the world today. “We are all human beings. We are not that different from one another. We share the same air and the same water. Therefore, we have to adopt a global point of view to promote world peace, protect Mother Earth and practise compassion. We need to implement the universal values implicit in all religious traditions to help us all”, he said.
The summit also witnessed the participation of eminent scholars, Sangha leaders and Dhamma practitioners worldwide, who discussed the pressing global issues. The discussions were held under four themes: “Buddha Dhamma and Peace”; “Buddha Dhamma: Environmental Crisis, Health and Sustainability”; “Preservation of Nalanda Buddhist Tradition”; “Buddha Dhamma Pilgrimage, Living Heritage and Buddha Relics”.
Drawing upon the teachings of the Buddha, “Global Buddhist summit” (GBS) gave a call for a paradigm shift in human attitude towards nature “We urge governments and individuals to take action to reduce carbon emissions, protect biodiversity, and preserve natural resources for future generations”, read the New Delhi declaration.
Reiterating PM’s All Important Message
Reinforcing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message at the summit, the summit recognised that environmental degradation was one of the most pressing challenges facing humanity today. It reiterated that the members are committed to protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development.
The focus of the GBS 2023 was on modes of disseminating and internalising universal values and finding ways to work together, to address the burning challenges both within and globally and offer a sustainable model for the future of the world.
Consensus on Popularising Buddha’s Message
Peace was the foundation for human happiness and well-being, and conflicts and violence were a significant threat to it. The summit called upon all nations, organisations and individuals to work towards creating a world free from conflict, violence and war.
There was general agreement that the Buddha’s message could provide inspiration and guidance for peace, well-being, harmony and compassion. There was consensus that this needs to be highlighted and worked upon.
The Declaration also called upon Governments to preserve and protect the sacred sites of Buddhism and promote their accessibility to people of all backgrounds. Buddhist pilgrimage was a living heritage promoting spiritual growth, cultural understanding and social harmony. “All the presentations were very enlightening and revealed the various facets of Buddha Dhamma in very simple and lucid manner, said His Eminence Kyabje Yongzin Ling Rinpoche Tenzin Lungtok Thinley Choephak, in his concluding remarks.
He emphasised that it is the responsibility of each of us to spread the Buddha’s teachings, especially to today’s youth. Education should be imparted on the universal truth of the Dhamma that was taught in the ancient Mahaviharas, like Nalanda.
“India has played a very important role in making a new beginning. The event will make a larger impact on the entire country and the world. I am sure this Buddhist summit will end with a message of togetherness and solving the issues together.”-Prof Amarjiva Lochan, Delhi University
Reiterating a part of Prime Minister’s speech on April 20, Minister of State for Culture Arjun Meghwal mentioned that India had given Buddha to the world and not war or conflict. He referred to the several ways and means of attaining happiness as explained by the Buddha and emphasised the need for people to focus on their bare necessities rather than aspire for more, which is at the core of all problems. He mentioned climate change and the need for every individual to consciously try and realise how he can help in preventing damage to the environment.
In this connection, Meghwal mentioned that he often rides a bicycle to send a message to people. The Minister also highlighted India’s rich philosophical and spiritual heritage, where one can find solutions to all problems, and Buddhism is part of this overall ecosystem.
Two Korean monks Inhae Sunim and Domyung Sunim who has written a book on Buddhism, are epitome of wisdom and humbleness. The book ‘Gaya Buddhism – the beginning of Korean Buddhism’ was widely appreciated at the summit. The duo made their presence felt at the Global Buddhist Summit with their insightful observations.
Uttering a few sentences in Korean when they were asked questions during an impromptu conversation Domyung Sunim told Organiser “This book has all the details that occurred two thousand years ago, when Buddhism came to Korea from India through the queen. It passed through China. The book has details like Emperor Ashoka’s daughter Sanghamitra and son Mahindra taking Buddhism to Sri Lanka after the Parinirvana of Bhagwan Buddha. Exactly, after three hundred years later, Heo Hwang-ok from Ayodhya and her brother took Buddhism to Korea”.
“This book took us ten years to complete. Apart from writing, we also had to conduct many seminars. History is very important for today’s generation. If we have forgotten itihaas then we would have to revive it. It repeats itself but is important to know our history. If we have to know our future, then it is important to know what happened in the past”, Inhae Sunim told Organiser.