Pages InformationWriter Jogye Date20 Jun 2023 Read693 Comment0
Buddhist leaders representing both Korea and Japan prayed for an end to the war between Russia and Ukraine, and for world peace at Geumsansa in Gimje, an iconic Korean temple devoted to Maitreya.
On June 13, the Korea-Japan Buddhist Cultural Exchange Association (president, Ven. Jinwoo; hereafter “Korea-Japan Buddhist Association”) and the Japan-Korea Buddhist Exchange Association (president, Fujita Ryujo; hereafter “Japan-Korea Buddhist Association”) held the 40th Korea-Japan Buddhist Cultural Exchange Conference and World Peace Prayer Assembly under the theme, “Looking Back on 40 Years of Korea-Japan Buddhist Exchanges.” It was held in Daejeokgwangjeon Hall at Geumsansa Temple. As the core event of the 3-day Conference, the World Peace Prayer Assembly was a venue for Korean and Japanese Buddhist leaders to pray for national prosperity and the reinvigoration of Buddhism in both countries, as well as for world peace.
In his opening remarks, Ven. Jinwoo—president of the Korea-Japan Buddhist Cultural Exchange Association and president of the Jogye Order—first pointed out the significance of the achievements the two countries have made through their interaction in 40 conferences. In 2005, the then president of the Japan-Korea Buddhist Association, Miyabayashi Shogen, made a presentation of repentance for Japan’s past history. In 2009, in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of exchanges, the Monument for Harmony and Coexistence of Humanity was established at Silleuksa Temple in Yeoju. And in 2011, the Joint Memorial Ceremony for Victims of the East Japan Earthquake was held, and 10 million yen to fund relief efforts was donated to Japan.
Ven. Jinwoo further said, “In this way, Buddhism in our two countries has been working hard to build a Buddhist realm here on Earth by following the fundamental teachings of the Buddha, which are ‘to attain enlightenment for self and others, and to practice perfect acts of enlightenment.’ Now we are standing at a new starting point. We must give courage and hope to this world, which is another reason to try and recapture the youthful enthusiasm we had when we first began to follow the Buddhist path.”
In response, president of the Japan-Korea Buddhist Association, Fujita Ryujo, expressed his pleasure at the reunion after the 4-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He said, “Once again, we should be reminded of the objectives of inaugurating the Association in our two countries, the purpose of holding the conference, and the current state of dharma propagation. I expect an active exchange of opinions and increased mutual understanding at this conference. I hope that the friendship between our two countries will develop further and contribute to world peace.”
Originally, the conference at Geumsansa Temple had been decided on while Ven. Wonhaeng was still president of the Jogye Order, but the conference kept being postponed due to the pandemic, and his term ended. Now, the Most Eminent Elder of Geumdangsa Temple, Ven. Wonhaeng, attended the conference and shared his hope that Korean and Japanese Buddhists working together would take the lead in the practice of compassion, just like his teacher, the late Great Lineage Master Wolju did his entire life.
In his welcoming remarks, Ven. Irwon, abbot of Geumsansa Temple, said, “I pray that the vows of monastics from both countries will be realized at Geumsansa, the foundational monastery of Maitreya faith.”
In addition, Ven. Jugyeong—vice-president of the Korea-Japan Buddhist Association and chairman of the Jogye Order’s Central Council—emphasized in his greeting remarks, “As disciples of the same Buddha, Korean and Japanese Buddhists should further develop the role and calling of Buddhism.” He continued, “Buddhist exchanges between Korea and Japan are of great significance in that Buddhist orders in both countries have shared the pain and suffering of the times beyond the scope of just regular meetings,” adding, “Buddhism must strive to resolve increasingly serious global disputes and conflicts.”
In their prayers for blessings, Ven. Dogak, executive director of the Korea-Japan Buddhist Association, and Ven. Shibata Tetsugen, vice president of the Japan-Korea Buddhist Association, prayed for a stronger friendship between the two countries, the promotion of exchanges, the cessation of war, and the attainment of world peace. Afterward, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Park Bo-gyun, and former president of Japan Buddhist Federation, Otani Choyu, delivered congratulatory remarks read respectively by Kim Dae-hyeon, head of religious affairs, and Ven. Onoi Kato.
After the assembly to commemorate the 40th conference, a sweet osmanthus tree was planted in front of Geumsansa Temple’s Maitreya Hall, a designated national treasure. The tree embodies the hope that Buddhist exchanges between the two countries will spread all over the world, in the same way that sweet osmanthus leaves stay green throughout the winter and exude a beautiful fragrance.
Prior to the assembly, Ven. Jinwoo, president of the Korea-Japan Buddhist Association, offered 108 prostrations at Geumsansa’s Maitreya Hall to express his resolve for the revival of Buddhism.
Ven. Fujita Ryujo, president of the Japan-Korea Buddhist Association, said, “Regarding Buddhist funeral culture, Japanese Buddhism is entrenched in Japanese life, but since the outbreak of COVID-19, there is a growing trend to simplify funerals, causing us many difficulties. I hope our interaction with Korean Buddhism can facilitate our learning from each other.”
On this day, Korean and Japanese Buddhists issued a joint statement which included the following:
“We reaffirm that friendly exchanges between Korean and Japanese Buddhists will lead to harmony by promoting friendship between the people of both countries. Furthermore, it will become the basis for peace in Asia and the world, and we will strengthen these values through our conferences.”
“By honoring respect for life and the value of the mind based on the teachings of Buddha dharma, we will work together to propagate Buddha dharma so as to provide new hope for humanity and the Earth mired in crisis.”
“By steadfastly confronting the pending issues of humanity, including famine, war, and climate/environment crises, we offer an alternative in Buddhism, and vow to further practice together to achieve world peace and realize the Buddhist Pure Land here on Earth.”
Pictures are from Jogye Order and Hyundaebulgyo press.