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English | The 18th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women in Seoul

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Author Jogye On23-07-04 14:08 Views1,429 Comments0

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The Shakyadhita International Conference, a global celebration of female monastics sangha and women Buddhists, took place on June 23-27 at COEX in Seoul, Korea. The first Sakyadihta conference held face-to-face after three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was attended by more than 3,000 participants from 31 countries, including Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, and the United States.


The opening ceremony began with Six Dharma offerings made by the National Bhikkhuni Association, followed by the ritual of inviting the assembly of guardian deities officiated by the Water and Land Festival Preservation Society from Jinguan-sa Temple. The sound of chanting in Chinese, Tibetan, Vietnamese, Korean, and other languages that reverberated throughout the hall bore witness to the global nature of the Shakyadita conference.


"True happiness comes when we keep letting go so that our minds stay clear and peaceful," said Ven. Bongak, the co-chair of Shakadita Korea and the chair of the National Bhikkhuni Association, in her plenary address. "Together with about 3,000 participants from 31 countries, we will exchange opinions and experience firsthand how to stay spiritually awake."


"This is a truly remarkable moment, this gathering of women Buddhists from all over the world. We meet as a global sangha and share our insights, experiences, and wisdom, transcending differences of traditions and lineages," said Seattle University Professor Sharon Suh, who leads the Shakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women as its president.


"I hope this gathering will serve as a venue to find ways to stay awake in a world in crisis, through the presentation of academic papers, workshops, pilgrimages, and meditations," said Most Ven. Jinwoo, the president of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. "I hope that the Shakyadita International Conference will not only be a convention of women Buddhists but also expand to encompass the entire global Buddhist community where a glorious momentum will be generated through the wisdom and skills taught by the Buddha to save the world in crisis."


President Yoon Sukyeol and other government officials also delivered congratulatory remarks. In his congratulatory remarks, which were read by Kang Seungkyu, the senior presidential aid for civic society, President Yoon said, "By putting the Buddha’s teaching into practice, the Shakyadita International Conference is creating solutions to various problems facing the world today as well as redefining the role of women Buddhists in the modern era." He promised, "The government will further strive to respect human rights, protect the socially vulnerable, and promote world peace based on the spirit of freedom and solidarity.”

Academic papers were presented and discussed under five themes. Starting at 9 am on the 24th, a keynote speech titled "What Does Modernity Mean for Buddhist Women" was followed by 25 papers and discussions, including "Buddhist Women in Korea," "Gender Stereotypes and Impermanence," "Pursuing Enlightenment: the Status of Bhikkhuni Ordination," "Pilgrimage, Practice, and Imperfect Human Existence," and "Applying the Buddha\\'s Teachings to Our Daily Lives.


Workshops on various topics were also hosted to provide opportunities to learn about the different Buddhist countries and their cultures through discussions and hands-on activities. Some of the workshops are on: △Vietnamese bhikkhuni outreach to Vietnamese migrants in Korea △ origami and healing △ monastic training for female sangha △ Buddhist propagation through mass media: the current status and prospects △ vipassana during the pandemic and △ smile yoga.


Finally, Shakadita members pledged to "call for the immediate cessation of the release of radioactively contaminated water from the nuclear power plant and actively participate in all social activities to protect the environment," and to "emulate the Buddha’s simple and frugal lifestyle by living an environmentally friendly life, preserving nature, practicing recycling and switching to renewable energy to achieve carbon neutrality.”

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