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Ven. Dr. Chung Ohun Lee - World Interfaith Harmony Week

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Ven. Dr. Chung Ohun Lee

Ven. Dr. Chung Ohun Lee

We Need to Update Our Morality

Mr. President,  Excellencies, colleagues and friends,
It is my great honor to celebrate the World Interfaith Harmony Week with you here in the General Assembly. 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 21 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 as equal measure.  Interreligious understanding and cooperation may be the most effective instrument for world peace because religions are a vital agent for change and today religions increasingly become part of solution.

It has the potential to be an instrument of 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 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 suffering of humanity.

Cultivating inner peace is critical first step for the 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 active role of women.  If we fully incorporate women’s gifts, utilizing half of the populations’ 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 affect 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 deepen and strengthen our love and wisdom for all.  Thank you.