Engaged Buddhism: Peace Foundation hosts international symposium on “A New Awareness of War, Peace and Life” in Seoul

- through Henry Oudin

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Image courtesy of Jungto Company

The Peace Foundation, a private research institute founded by revered Korean Dharma master and social activist Ven. peace and life”. The live-streamed forum brought together a panel of experts from Australia, China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, who discussed a range of traditional and non-traditional threats to global peace and security and new strategies and corresponding approaches to mitigate these risks.

“The Peace Foundation, which seeks new and alternative solutions to security and peace through the paradigm of life security and climate peace, organized this international online symposium on June 8 under the theme of new awareness of war, peace and life with the objective of exploring alternative solutions to the security crises of humanity and seeking new measures and new areas of cooperation in the pursuit of world peace “, shared the Peace Foundation with BDG.

The forum was moderated by Ven. Pomnyun Sunim and in the presence of Dr. Cho Han-bum from the Korean Institute for Unification, who presented on the theme "The Renaissance of Traditional Security and the Paradox of the Anthropocene Era", and Prof. Nam Ki- Jeong from the Institute for Japanese Studies, Seoul National University, who spoke on the topic "War and Peace from the Perspective of Climate Peace".

Dr. Cho Han-bum of the Korea Institute for Unification. Image courtesy of Jungto Company

From abroad, Professor Chihara Takenaka of the Japan Peace Studies Association shared observations on the vulnerability of the nation-state framework to the current crises facing humanity, highlighting how the responses of various countries to the pandemic have illustrated how imminent these vulnerabilities are. Meanwhile, Professor Tobias Ide of Murdoch University in Australia offered compelling insights into how the issues of war and climate change are not one-sided problems but, in fact, intertwined.

Lee Jung-pil, director of the Energy and Climate Policy Research Institute, and Kim Sang-bae, professor of political and diplomatic affairs at Seoul National University, discussed their views and perspectives on presentations, just like Professor Youzhi from Xi'an. Jiaotong-Liverpool University in China and Professor Tsai Dong-je of National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan.

"The dissolution of the Cold War allowed mankind to feel a sense of relief that we were finally free from the threat of world war and nuclear conflict, and the concept of security was extended to human security,” the Peace Foundation explained. “However, more recently, the conflict in Ukraine, the strategic rivalry between China and the United States, and North Korea's nuclear threat level have reignited fears of war and nuclear crisis. With the rapid development of science and technology, the shadow cast by new, non-traditional security threats, including climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, is also intensifying. It is an era of complex crises in which the revival of traditional security threats and the rise of non-traditional security threats now intersect.

Image courtesy of Jungto Company

Created by Ven. Pomnyun Sunim in 2004, The Peace Foundation is an independent non-governmental organization aimed at working for a permanent peace, free from the threat of war, on the Korean Peninsula, helping to end the 60-year division of two Koreas and to participate in the path of collaborative prosperity and harmony in East Asia. The foundation engages with experts in various fields to analyze how best to end conflict and cultivate interfaith dialogue on the theme of world peace.

Forum discussions were wide-ranging, examining diverse views and opinions on new cooperative approaches to global peace amid the growing threat of climate change and reframing humanity's approach to dealing with the climate crisis in “climate peace”. After all the experts shared their views, concerns and suggestions for nations to walk down new paths, Ven. Pomnyun Sunim shared some closing remarks to close the conference:

“There's an old saying in Korea, 'It's better to see something once than hear about it a hundred times.' However, it is better to act once than to see something a hundred times,” Ven. said Pomnyun Sunim.

“Everything we use generates carbon emissions, not just power generation. Therefore, the ultimate solution to tackling the climate crisis lies in reducing consumption. Although issues such as rising electricity bills and rising oil prices may seem burdensome on an individual level, they can actually serve as pathways to reduce overall energy consumption.

Image courtesy of Jungto Company

“That's why I think there should be a drinking limit that prevents individuals from indulging in excessive drinking above a certain threshold. No matter how wealthy a person is, there should be a limit to how much one can consume. Therefore, we should not envy those who indulge in excessive consumption. Such behavior amounts to deadly acts that inflict damage on countless other lives on Earth. In this regard, practical action is more important than mere words. By taking action and advocating for change as individuals, we can create a ripple effect in society. Therefore, I would like to stress to everyone the importance of the same small practical gestures.

“On the other hand, the Korean Peninsula currently faces a growing risk of war, which could destroy everything beyond the threat posed by the climate crisis. From this point of view, we must firmly cling to the idea that war is not permitted for any reason. Otherwise, we will all have to endure immense suffering. In this sense, I hope that we do not view peace as a distant and abstract goal.

“I recently traveled all over Southeast Asia. For many people who live there, Korea is a dream country. Today, they admire Korea more than we in Korea admired the United States. Among people who have some awareness, all are concerned about the threat of war on the Korean Peninsula, but people living in Korea often find themselves in a rather complacent state, so to speak, almost with a sense of indifference to the war. I hope we can all realize this aspect: preventing war is not a question of ideology, progressivism, conservatism, political parties or religion. In order to preserve what we have acquired over the years and in order to preserve and lead a stable society, we must firmly affirm the commitment that war is not an option. This must be an underlying understanding before committing to actions to reduce consumption.

The Peace Foundation, founded by Venerable Pomnyun Sunim, organized an international symposium on the theme
Fri. Pomnyun Sunim. Image courtesy of Jungto Company

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim is a widely revered Korean Dharma teacher, author, and social activist. He has founded numerous organizations, initiatives and projects around the world, including: JTS Korea, an international humanitarian aid organization working to eradicate poverty and hunger; Jungto Society, a volunteer-based community grounded in the teachings of the Buddha and dedicated to solving modern social problems that lead to suffering; Ecobuddha, an organization focused on environmental ethics and sustainable living based on the teachings of the Buddha; and Good Friends, which promotes reconciliation and cooperation between North and South Korea, and provides humanitarian aid to North Koreans. Fri. Pomnyun Sunim also works closely with the International Network of Committed Buddhists (INEB).

In October 2020, the Niwano Foundation for Peace in Japan presented the 37th Niwano Peace Prize to Ven. Pomnyun Sunim in recognition of the revered monk's international humanitarian work, environmental and social activism, and tireless efforts to build trust and goodwill between communities of different faiths and cultures, towards the goal of world peace. *

* Buddhist monk Ven. Pomnyun Sunim Receives 37th Niwano Peace Prize (BDG)

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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