Women’s perspectives should be included in all levels of decision making, including religion and interfaith dialogue, said Ven. Dr. Chung Ohun Lee of Won Buddhism International to the United Nations General Assembly.
Transcript of address at the observance of World Interfaith Harmony Week at the UN General Assembly Hall on February 7, 2012. (Taken from a recording made by the United Nations.)
We Need to Update Our Morality
Ven. Dr. Chung Ohun Lee
Won Buddhism International
Our global society needs innovative moral politics to develop and to implement a revolutionary global wisdom and awareness to strengthen and revitalize the UN. It is a novel initiative to empower humanity through interfaith understanding and collaboration. It can transform conflict energy of mistrust, dislike, and hatred in our world
In this new era of the 21st century, we need to update our mentality to meet the challenges of our time. Today with rapid advancement of material civilization with ever-expanding technology, we need to cultivate spiritual civilization in equal measure. Interreligious understanding and cooperation may be the most effective instruments for world peace because religions are a vital agent for change and today religions are increasingly becoming part of the solution. Religion has the potential to be an instrument of a culture of peace by highlighting unity in diversity and diversity in unity. I have hope that the cooperation between the UN and world religions will bring positive change in our world.
It is part of my Won Buddhist faith that everyone and everything is connected, is part of a whole. To the awakened eyes, all religions and spirituality are based on a common source, all human beings and all forms of life are interconnected as one extended family, and all social, economic, religious, and political enterprises have a common purpose. But this is not so easy for many people to see. Interfaith dialogue may help everyone to see the ties that connect us all.
What we can do to build interfaith harmony is quite humble. It is a quiet acceptance within the deepest part of you that all things on the Earth are one. When you look at the person next to you, realize and understand without question that person is you. Everything you say and do to that person is exactly as though you were saying and doing it to yourself. This simple concept is at the heart of Buddhist teaching, one in all and all in one. It is, at first, very difficult for most people to grasp, as we tend to consider ourselves as distinctly separate entities. But we learned a painful lesson from 9/11 that there is no “us” and “them.”
Once we accept the concept of interconnectedness and interdependency, it will transform self-interest to mutual interest and global interest; thus, we find wisdom and compassion to reduce and eliminate the suffering of humanity.
Cultivating inner peace is a critical first step for world peace. The Buddha taught that if the mind is trained, there is inner peace and joy, and if the mind is undisciplined, there is suffering.
In addition, it is critical to invite the active role of women. If we fully incorporate women’s gifts, utilizing half of the population’s talents, we can transform the way we handle global affairs in solving world’s problems. Women’s perspectives should be included in all levels of decision making, including religion and interfaith dialogue.
I believe in the power of the individual to effect great change in the world. Every action, word, and intention has an effect. We act today as a community of dedicated individuals with faith that what we do can transform the world.
May we pray that World Interfaith Harmony Week will deepen and strengthen our wisdom and love for all.
Ven. Dr. Chung Ohun Lee
Won Buddhism International
Ven. Dr. Chung Ohun Lee is the founding head minister and guiding spiritual teacher of Won Buddhism of Manhattan, established in 1994. She is a recognized international leader in interreligious dialogue and cooperation. She has represented Won Buddhism at the United Nations since 1992. Important UN committee positions included co-convener of the conference on Advancing Cooperation between the United Nations and World’s Religions (2008); Chair of Intercultural Dialogue at the UN (2004); Chair of the Universal Ethics Millennium Conference at the UN (2000); President of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the UN (1995-1997); and Founding Co-Chair of the Values Caucus at the UN (1994-1995). Ven. Lee has been the Co-President of Religions for Peace since 1999. Dr. Lee edited Vision for a New Civilization: Spiritual and Ethical Values in the New Millennium. She received full ordination in Won Buddhism in 1981, in Iksan City, South Korea. She holds a Ph.D. in Religious Education from New York University.
Ven. Dr. Chung Ohun Lee is the founding head minister and guiding spiritual teacher of Won Buddhism of Manhattan, established in 1994. She is a recognized international leader in interreligious dialogue and cooperation.
Source: United Nations (Supplied Transcript)
Photo Credit: UN Multimedia