Buddha’s Day dedicated to world peace, racial harmony

Multicultural Festival underscores Interfaith at Fo Guang Shan Temple

Venkat Raman

Thousands of people attended a Multicultural Festival organised at the sprawling Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple Complex in Flatbush, East Auckland today to commemorate the Birthday of Gautama Buddha and celebrate the diversity of New Zealand.

Several stalls displaying and selling a range of food, handicrafts and other items were a feature of the Festival that drew people from varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Prayers and Speeches

Earlier, the Temple’s Abbess Manshin led prayers at the Main Hall of the Temple in the presence of Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Members of Parliament Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (National), Jami-Lee Ross (Independent), Police Commissioner Mike Bush, Counties Manukau Police District Commander Jill Rogers, Inspectors Wendy Spiller (Counties Manukau Police East Area Commander), Rakesh Naidoo (Principal Advisor, New Zealand Police National Headquarters) and members of Catholic and Islamic faiths.

Nation of Compassion

Ms Salesa said that the sentiments expressed by New Zealanders following the Christchurch massacre on March 15, 2019 showed that we are a country of compassion and love.

“We are a nation of more than 200 ethnicities speaking more than 160 different languages. Buddha and his followers have always focused on peace and we in Aotearoa have proved that we believe in peace and goodwill. I wish to thank Police Commissioner Mike Bush and all the officers of the New Zealand Police for what they have done after the terrorist attack in Christchurch. I am really proud of them,” she said.

Recalling the words of a man who lost his wife in the March 15 shooting, Ms Salesa said that reflecting on his religion, he asked for forgiveness of the person who caused this terrible tragedy. She said that all Islamic nations expressed their solidarity with New Zealand at their meeting held in Turkey on March 22, 2019.

“In the words of Buddha, the answer to all the violence and hatred lies in humanity,” she said.

Solidarity pronounced

Mr Goff said that it was the intention of the terrorist to divide the nation, spread hatred and create disharmony in the country but “New Zealanders have done exactly the opposite.”

“The Buddhist Faith and all other faiths promote the values of peace and harmony in a world in which there is too much conflict and violence. They promote compassion and kindness in a world where there is too much greed and selfishness. And they have a commitment to wisdom and truth in a world where sadly, even some of our world leaders indulge in ignorance and dishonesty,” he said.

A Special Place

Ms Rogers said that the March 15 incident reminded her as to why the Buddhist Temple was ‘such a special place.’

“It reminded me why we find peace when we come together today; because sometimes, in our very complicated lives, there are things that we should hold tight. In our Organisation (New Zealand Police), we talk about values and the teachings of Buddha. It is those simple things like respect, empathy and treating all with compassion. It reminded me three weeks ago of our values and what is written on our (Police) Patrol cars-‘Safer Communities; Together.’ And this place is a demonstration of various communities coming together. We should never lose sight of the simple teachings of Buddha of love towards all,” she said.

Abbess Manshin said that racial disharmony, hatred and violence are really difficult to reconcile with the wisdom of humankind.

“We sincerely wish that we are able to utilise the compassion of Buddha to dispel these pains and sorrows. We also hope that the intrinsic quality of love and peace in everyone will be released. With a heart filled with gratitude and appreciation, let us love each and everyone on Earth and treasure our natural resources. With a heart filled with selflessness and equality, let us accept and care for those who are suffering,” she said.

Among the other speakers were Jami-Lee Ross, Rakesh Naidoo, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office Auckland Director General Jeff Liu, Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) Secretary Ibrar Sheikh, Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) Northland President Lintao Yu and representatives of other religions and faiths.

A Great Movement

Fo Guang Shan, which means, ‘Buddha’s Mountain of Light,’ is an international Chinese Buddhist Religious Movement based in the Republic of China (Taiwan). The Headquarters of the Movement based in Dashu District of Kaohsiung, is the largest Buddhist Monastery in that country. Fo Guang Shan is one of the largest charity organisations in Taiwan and the Order calls itself, ‘International Buddhist Progress Society.’

Established in 1967 by Hsing Yun, the Order promotes ‘Humanistic Buddhism.’

Hsing Yun’s stated position within Fo Guang Shan is that it is an ‘amalgam of all Eight Schools of Buddhism, including but not limited to Chan.’

(Pictures supplied by Karzin Leong of Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple)

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