The 2560 Buddhist New Year’s Press Conference Statement
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The 2560 Buddhist New Year’s Press Conference Statement
“The Jogye Order will pave the road towards hope with you”
Dear all fellow Buddhists: Let’s work together to create a brighter and more hopeful community.
The Buddha set the example that an individual can realize a community of hopes and dreams here on earth. He demonstrated this himself and taught people that everyone inherently has Buddha nature, through which one can realize a bright spiritual community.
He did not dwell in a state of complete enlightenment. Instead he wandered about ceaselessly in order to meet and teach as many people as possible, so that they could be awakened and transform their suffering into happiness. Subsequently, he delivered around eighty-four thousand different Dharma teachings throughout his lifetime. It was the beginning of the realization that we humans are great beings, and that we can aspire to make our life-paths correctly, brightly, and perfectly.
Without a single exception, all beings on earth depend on each other. By correctly understanding the law of causality, we should keep in mind that individuals are all connected to each other and thereby indivisible from each other. This law similarly applies to societies; therefore, we should all live in peaceful coexistence. Only with this viewpoint, one can realize one’s aspirations without negatively affecting the happiness of others within the community. You can never be genuinely happy if your community suffers.
If you look at our present society, you can see much suffering everywhere. The problem of unemployment among the youth in Korea and the gap between rich and poor is so serious that a new word – “Hell Joseon (Korea),” – was created and has quickly spread. Societal conflicts are also never ending these days.
In the course of its industrialization, Korea has prioritized material goods and wealth over other matters in the country, and has rushed towards economic growth and development. These have been the major causes of the wanton greed, materialistic tendencies, and egoism currently prevalent throughout modern Korea. We, the Jogye Order, sincerely confess that the role of the Sangha during that period was unfortunately neither sufficient nor influential. We are now determined to make steady, firm steps towards creating a more concrete and realistic contribution to society. We, as practitioners, will continue to practice harder and cultivate greater wisdom and compassion so that any accumulated merits could ease the suffering of all beings on earth.
The Jogye Order will continue to join forces and work towards the realization of the Buddha’s Pure Land through the operation of the Labor Relations Commission and the Council of Reconciliation. We expanded the Labor Relations Commission to Social Affairs and Labor Relations Commission and empowered it further by recruiting more Buddhist monks for the organization. The Jogye Order’s efforts to renovate the Order, to spread the philosophy of reconciliation of dispute and harmony, and to preserve the tradition of collective decision-making and discussion will be sustained without fail for the sake of the future of Korean Buddhism.
Furthermore, the Jogye Order will strengthen its efforts towards reconciliation, by creating a network for issues such as environmental, labor, human rights, and religious harmony and by operating collective discussion that enable a more holistic perspective. We will pay attention to the issues of youth unemployment and actively support government policies. We hope that the young generation can feel less concerned, more confident and stay passionate and hopeful for the future, without losing hope, in the embrace of the Buddha.
We will keep the invaluable tradition of holding “The General Meeting of the Four-fold Assembly for the Far-sighted Plan of the Jogye Order” in which every member of the Buddhist community joins as an owner of Korean Buddhism in the decision-making process. We will strive harder to get more people involved and listen to their voices. By successfully operating the “Committee of the Fourfold Assembly for the reform and reconciliation of the Jogye Order,” this year the Jogye Order will establish a stepping-stone towards a brighter future.
Currently, the issues of low birthrates and our aging society have become pressing ones that should no longer be put off. The religious community has been supporting the government with their various projects. In the Buddhist community, the Jogye Order holds prayer ceremonies for newborn babies. We will expand our efforts by providing nursery facilities, providing rooms in city temples and encouraging Buddhist monks to educate citizens about childbirth, international adoption, abortion, etc through their Dharma talks. In terms of supporting the elderly, we will make a plan entitled “renunciation after retirement” which recruits retirees who would like to experience renouncing the world in the second phase of their lives by embracing them in temples. They will be able to both achieve their dreams and contribute to Sangha with their professional skills.
The current energy crisis caused by the excessive use of resources and environmental contamination are other big concerns for the sustainable development of human society. In last year’s 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, many world religious leaders, including myself, agreed with the joint efforts proposed and signed the agreement. As part of these efforts, the Jogye Order will follow the suggestions made by the collective meeting of 100 assembly members which strongly advocated the adoption of renewable energy in temples across the country. We will install solar power plants in city temples and devise alternatives for mountain temples since solar panels alter the landscape. We plan to carry it forth step by step after undertaking a feasibility study.
We will steadily walk on the path of compassion and reconciliation
The year 1236 C.E., 780 years ago, was the year of Byeongsin (Monkey) when the Goryeo people began making the Eighty Thousand Tripitaka Koreana in order to overcome a national crisis with a unified mind. Taking it as a good example, we will continue with our reformation and development projects. “Establishment of the Gyeonji-dong Historic and Cultural National Park,” the core project of the 34th administration, has been going well, so we expect the groundbreaking ceremony to be held in 2017. In regard to the welfare policy for Buddhist monks, we have been providing the costs of hospitalization and long-term rehabilitation so far. But in addition to this, we are currently working on a national pension to be provided to Buddhist monks starting in 2017. By raising the joining rate of the Buddhist monks to the national pensions, we hope that the national pension can realistically give security to ageing monks.
We will devise a comprehensive institutional support in the fields of practice, Dharma propagation, welfare of the aged, and administrative works for all head temples, so that they can play a central role in their local communities.
The newly adapted “performance appraisal system for head monks and temples” will be further expanded. We believe that this system has contributed to the remarkable progress in terms of finance, Dharma propagation for both adults and children, and welfare activities etc., for the past five years. Therefore, we will spread the system to all temples across the country and this year we aim to establish it in temples in five districts out of 25.
In 2012, the temple management committee law was enacted but it is still perfunctory. We will complement the law in various ways so that it can be more actively executed. The regulations for making the temples whose budget is over USD $30 million open up their temple finances will be maintained and further expanded to other temples. As we just completed the development of the simplified account computing system, we will spread the system to all the temples whose annual budget is less than USD $200,000 across the country this year.
The Jogye Order will continue to promote the spirit and practice of Buddhism for lay Buddhists. We will enhance the teaching of Bodhicitta in particular, so that people can understand they can be seeds for change in the world. We will make the greatest vow to live like the Buddha and follow the teachings specifically in our daily lives. We will support the activities of various lay Buddhists’ groups so that their refuge and devotion to the Buddha-Dharma can be firmer and stronger and make a positive influence and stimulation for the Sangha and society.
The Jogye Order
is determined to cultivate hope for people, including teenagers and youth.
Whenever we face difficulties and conflicts, we will hold onto the Buddha’s
teachings and get wisdom for resolution from them. To help in supporting the
goal of the Korean government, “Culture in Flourish”, we will also adapt old
traditions and spirit in modern activities and turn them as the engines for new
progress and development. Last but not least, we will hold the hands of our
less privileged neighbors so that they feel secure and happy. All of these activities
will contribute to raising our national brand competitiveness.
Dear all Buddhists and all people of Korea, you are the owners of your lives. Please do not lose hope!
Every one of
us is a beautiful lotus flower. Even if the world is filled with mud that
gives us much suffering, let’s not give up on ourselves. You are already a
beautiful lotus flower that emits fragrance to society. Holding the hands
of your friends can help you overcome obstacles. With your friends, with your
neighbors, with your coworkers, let’s all get together and make our community
brighter and more hopeful from here and now. Thank you!
Jan. 13, 2560 in
the Buddhist Era (2016 C.E.)
Ven. Jaseung, President of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism