In the autumn of 2004, we eight Buddhist disciples from Hong Kong, Macao and across the Taiwan Straits proposed: to hold a World Buddhist Forum in china. The planed forum involves both fourfold disciple and those spiritual friends who care for and respect Buddhism.
The Buddha instructs us to benefit ourselves as well as others and save all living beings from calamities. In its 2500-year history, Buddhism has spread from the East to the West, transcending both national boundaries and different races. Today, Buddhism is one of the three major religions in the world. We are all living in an age where the impact of globalization is sweeping across the world and where the forces of economic integration are bringing nations ever closer together. It is also a time that the world is undergoing incredible changes at a rapid pace. Against this background of a fast changing world, we strongly believe that we should seize the opportunity to ride along this tide of change and make greater contributions to the further establishment of Buddhism undertaking for the peace and happiness of the mankind.
The World Buddhist Forum aims to set up an open, high-level platform for equality and pluralism, for those who love the world, care for the living beings, respect and protect Buddhism, with a loving heart to host meetings and activities regularly. All can participate in the forum regardless of creed or religious background, encouraging dialogue on a wide range of Buddhist topics including orthodox and esoteric teachings, ultimate truth, worldly truth and practices in this world and beyond. Out of the spirit of loving-kindness, wisdom, equality and flexibility, Buddhists stick to their right beliefs, develop the Buddha's teachings, exchange and share experiences of disseminating the Buddha's teachings and the ways of benefiting the sentient beings. They will discuss issues of common concern and develop the Buddha's teachings to seek tranquility within the hearts of human beings, boost social harmony, maintain world peace and enhance the happiness and interests of human kind.
The human being is now enjoying the fruits of unprecedented achievements in nature, science, technology and material wealth. These developments have in turn had a major impact on the way we live and the world around us, which have posed a big challenge to traditional beliefs and customs, moral values, life styles and customary way of life. Never in the history of human being have we enjoyed such a high level of material prosperity and yet mankind is beset with feelings of spiritual emptiness, moral degeneration and depression, living in a world where the gap between the rich and the poor grows wider, the environment is degrading, the world's ecology is deteriorating, and terrorism and wars are casting a threat. Facing these serious challenges, the need for mankind to have a healthy religious life and spiritual growth becomes even more important and urgent. As a religion devoted to benefiting all sentient beings, Buddhists should take up the vital responsibility of purifying the human mind and guiding the society. Presently, Buddhist societies around the world are dedicated to improving peoples' lives with the Buddha's teachings. They are actively working to promote education, culture, charity, environmental protection, and to oppose wars and keep peace. As these Buddhists communities throughout the world work together to achieve these objectives, a concept of "World Buddhism" is now forming. Therefore, the time is right and the conditions are matured for the establishment of the First World Buddhist Forum.
From ancient times, the people of China, South Korea and Japan have shared a common Buddhist heritage and have a long history of friendship and co-operation, which is known as the "Golden Link". This Friendship Exchange Conference for fellow Buddhist from china, South Korea and Japan presents an opportunity for us to air our proposal. We expect the support and response from the co-religionists. Meanwhile we are looking forward to the participation of people from the rest of Asia and other continents to make the First World Buddhist Forum a great success.