China to host WFB Conference and raise the stakes of Global Buddhism
Posted on June 27th, 2014

by Senaka Weeraratna

 China will host the 27th World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) General Conference scheduled to be held at Baoji City in the Shaanxi Province, North East China from 14-19 October, 2014.

 This is the first time that China will be hosting a WFB General Conference and it is likely to use the occasion to convey a strong message to the world that China of the future intends not only to be an economic and military super power but also a source of enlightened thinking and civilizational influence based on Buddhism.    

 Baoji city in Shaanxi Province was chosen as the venue of the WFB Conference because Shaanxi Province is the birthplace of the ancient Chinese civilization. Xi’an was the capital city during the reign of thirteen dynasties (the Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang Dynasties), which in total lasted over 1100 years. Buddhism which originated in India was first received in Shaanxi Province.

 Buddhism is deeply rooted in China and is an integral part of the Chinese culture and civilization. It is the only outside influence that was allowed to integrate successfully into Chinese society over a period of over thousand years by a community i.e. Chinese, fully conscious of their place in history and in the unfolding world. 

Though all religions in China suffered a setback during the period of Chinese Communism and particularly at some stage of what was called the ‘Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution’ in the mid – 1960s, Chinese Buddhism has steadily recovered and it is rapidly expanding registering the fastest growth for any religion in China. The number of followers of Chinese Buddhism vary from a conservative 300 million to a liberal interpretation of over one Billion.  

Chinese Buddhism can be expected to be a major drive in the future using the advancements made in the fields of technology and wealth. The Chinese polity is now discovering the priceless value of Buddhism and its huge potential in bonding with other countries in Asia and particularly India, the birthplace of Buddhism. 

The recent moves on the part of both China and India under the newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi to draw closer to each other in many spheres using historical Buddhist civilizational and cultural links bodes well for both countries and the greater stability of the rest of Asia.

It was not so long ago in the colonial period that both Chinese and other peoples of Asia were forced to watch with despair and helplessness the inroads that the Christian missionaries were making in Hindu and Buddhist dominated parts of Asia. The Chinese themselves were at the receiving end for decades of Christian evangelization, and of late Islamic resurgence, particularly in the north – western parts of China. 

Today China’s leadership is no longer doctrinaire Communist. It sees a huge potential in Buddhism and views it as a noble path for the moral and ethical progress and spiritual transformation of Chinese society.

It has been observed that Buddhism can also function in reducing social divisions in China much more effectively than any of the Abrahamic religions which are strongly linked to external forces based outside China.  Buddhism has also been seen by Chinese observers as helping believers to cope with fast-changing modes of behaviour and life styles of modern society plagued by wealth gap and social unrest.

China’s close association and patronage of Buddhism will be mutually beneficial to both China and the rest of Buddhist Asia desperately seeking a countervailing power to lead and offset the growing challenges posed by threatening influences emanating from the West.

Senaka Weeraratna

One Response to “China to host WFB Conference and raise the stakes of Global Buddhism”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    Any converts to Christianity or Islam become easy pawns at the hand of either Western Christian Powers or of the Wahabbist nations respectively.

    Buddhism along with an enlightened mildly authoritarian leadership is what is required in China and now increasingly elsewhere.

    It is apparent what the Christian West call democracy and human rights are just a canard to destabilise, divide and balkanise nations in order to exploit resources at their will and pleasure.

    These countries are themselves not run democratically in the sense these ideals are meant to be. Moreover these very same ideas are used to subjugate their own peoples, who are for mostly suffering the Stockholm Syndrome for they have a semblance of self satisfied bliss even while living homeless on the roads. Recently in London the city authorities installed metal spikes where it is likely for homeless people to find a respite for the night!

    Buddhism along with a mild authoritarian government is the way ahead for the world.

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