The Edited Transcript of the Most Venerable Rector, Dr. Phra Dharmakosajarn’s Opening Speech for the Symposium of Buddhist Universities, for the UN Day of Vesak 25
Our intention and the theme is to get to know each other – and try to make a joint effort to do something together. If possible: we expect to see a new phenomenon – to create a common platform where we can come to meet with each other to share our ideas, to have dialogues – to enable us to share with and support each other. Developed institutes can help our Buddhist friends who are not quite so developed, to provide better education to the members of the Sangha and Buddhists throughout the world. As we will discuss in our Buddhist Contribution to Good Governance and Development, man is the center of development. If we want to see development in our religion of Buddhism, the most important factor to be developed now is not to construct new temples, but to develop manpower, that is our monks, nuns and laypeople. What would be the best way to develop them by means of Buddhist education? So far we have to accept the fact that although we have good messages of the Buddha to convey, the means and ways to train our people need to be developed. I expect those that have experience in this field, who have successes in running educational institutions can tell our friends here how to achieve that and what would be the complementary role that we expect from our friends – that is to think about the exchange programs, visiting professors, and whatever else there is. Before we achieve that we expect to invite all of you to come here and think about setting up a platform for that purpose. From my own conviction, I think this is possible, and having seen all of our faces here I hope that we can achieve something from this symposium and meeting.
The point is that if we have that platform of the International Association of Buddhist Universities, we need to organize it with good governance. What are the main factors of good governance?
The first thing is participation. We expect that participating universities and colleges will come forward to join our movement. It is not on an individual basis, but on the basis of institutions. We want to draw as much participation as possible from the existing institutions in the world. Maybe in the future you have to be open for new members to discuss in our platform. So participation is the first factor of good governance. Participation not only from the far developed institutions, but for whatever possible ways we can help each other we open our platform, we open our hearts to welcome [all members] – and to pledge for the developed institutions to help us, to guide us, so that we can have something to provide support to each other.
The second aspect of good governance in our association would be accountability. If there is any difficulty and someone asks for our help, this association must be ready to provide assistance, not to avoid the crying voice to help us here or there… In poor countries, we must be ready to help them, to develop them. If possible we can set up information technology or computer networks – networking our institutions together – so that we can have teleconferences or whatever is necessary and possible through information technology. The way that our Venerable Friend from Australia, Panyavaro can set up a Buddhist E-Library can serve our purpose here. That is for accountability.
The other factor of our platform would be transparency. Our working together must be transparent, we must have check and balance, so that we can have confidence in each other. That means whatever we are doing we must be doing it with concentration, with contributions from our friends within equal rights to know what we are doing.
The last factor that we expect from the new platform is efficiency – invest less, put less money, less energy and effort with more productivity. We don’t have to spend much time, much money to run this platform, but with our contributions from each institution we can have something “more multiplied” – that is, efficiency.
So, if we have these guidelines in our minds in the Buddhist way, we expect that our association will continue to serve our purpose with much success. So, If I may join you, I think that it is necessary to lay down these guidelines of good governance to run our own association and also societies, so that we can invite newcomers into our association and work together on equal terms, with the aspects of Buddhism helping each other, not to exploit [each other], not to do anything [that is] against Buddhist principles.
Maybe institutions in rich countries can have independent bodies without relying on others, but according to the law of paticcasamuppada – dependent origination – we have to depend on each other for our survival in the present-world. The Buddha has taught us this, and we ask you all here, according to the law of dependent origination that we will stick to the law and work it with discipline. I hope we can achieve our objectives, of coming here and doing something together. With this, I open the meeting and welcome you to this symposium.