On July 24th 2560 / 2016, participants from the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), European Union, America, and Australia met in the beautiful Kingdom of Cambodia to participate in the International Buddhist Conference on Buddhist Harmony in AEC: Regional and World Peace. The conference aimed to achieve four overarching objectives:
1.) Commemorate the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, 2.) Strengthen the cooperation among Buddhist scholars in AEC and neighboring countries and provide a platform for the sharing academic ideas,
3.) Preserve 2560 years of Buddha’s teaching in promoting and contributing to global peace and harmony, and
4.) Celebrate the 4th Anniversary of Buddhism for Education of Cambodia (BEC).
To illustrate the important first step of this conference within the global peacebuilding process, we were indeed honored by the presence of almost 900 participants from more than 30 countries, and were also well-represented by various Cambodian Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and State institutions. Moreover, twelve distinguished briefers represented by Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Czech Republic, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the United States of America shared their valuable thoughts on this year’s main theme: Buddhist Harmony in AEC: Regional and World Peace.
We extend special recognition to our distinguished host: Buddhism for Education of Cambodia (BEC), in cooperation with Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University of Cambodia and the World Buddhist University of Thailand
At the conclusion of this very successful conference, there was a unanimous decision from which to build on the Ven. Hak Sienghai’s opening message, panel discussions, and the four main objectives as outlined in the conference:
1. In recognizing the efforts of our distinguished host from the Kingdom of Cambodia, we should depart the International Buddhist Conference with a commitment to uphold the meaning of the beautiful image of the four faces of the Buddha at the main gate of Angkor Thom. Gazing out in four directions, the faces stand for great qualities of the Buddha – loving kindness, compassion, equanimity, and sympathetic joy.
2. Preserve a nearly 2560 year old Buddhist tradition of investing in humanity, in order to develop peaceful and harmonious communities;
3. Regional and world peace begins with Buddha’s teaching in which we train our inner world and our outer world for positive peace. Dharma is the middle path which goes beyond all duality and all opposites. Sometimes called equanimity, it serves to harmonize all extremism. As such, we are what we eat – so eat more Dharma and begin the process of global peacebuilding.
4. Continue to embrace the Buddhist practice of walking among the people of everyday life to gain a face-to-face encounter with common people.
5. Encourage Buddhists to find the courage to leave their temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with human suffering.
6. Work tirelessly for universal education in the 21st century in accordance with the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal of “achieving universal primary education” and beyond;
7. Urge Buddhist leaders to strengthen their ongoing noble missions to promote a path of non-violence and sustainable social development programs to achieve positive peace;
8. Resolve to share Buddha’s teaching of tolerance and peace, encourage deeper and more constructive understanding of others, and cultivate empathy and compassion as a roadmap to Buddhist harmony in AEC: Regional and World Peace;
9. Encourage Buddhists to be proactive in promoting peace, and in spreading the Buddha’s wisdom on the inter-connectedness of all humans as a global family and the shared consequences of negative actions;
10. Promote the ethical use of mindfulness in a universally applicable manner to address unmet basic human needs: health, education, and social development;
11. Encourage Buddhist to aim for positive peace, where the underlying root causes and conditions of direct, structural and cultural violence are addressed, and;
12. Continue the process of cultivating peaceful minds both within and without, as achieved during the International Buddhist Conference on Buddhist Harmony in AEC: Regional and World Peace.