Buddhist monks' peace conference at the University of Hawaii at Manoa

- through Henry Oudin

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Three Buddhist monks visited the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH Manoa) in June to discuss Buddhist teachings about peace and compassion for all sentient beings. The Buddhist monks were Venerable Kou Sopheap and Ven. Hak Sienghai of Cambodia and Ven. Sok Theavy, who resides in Hawaii.

The conference took place at the UH Manoa Center for Southeast Asian Studies and focused on the conflict in Cambodia that took place while the Khmer Rouge was in power. Specifically, it examined the role played by Buddhism in peace and reconciliation efforts since 1992.

The Khmer Rouge regime ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 979. During this period, the regime was responsible for one of the worst massacres in recent history, and nearly two million Cambodians were killed.

The movement was led by Pol Pot, a Marxist who wanted to demodernize Cambodia and cleanse it of Buddhist influence. Pol Pot was impressed by the hill tribes who lived in northeastern Cambodia because they lived communally and their villages were entirely self-sufficient.

At the height of his power, Pol Pot attempted to impose this agrarian way of life across Cambodia, creating rural collectives, abolishing money, private property, and banning the practice of religion. Intellectuals were killed en masse, as well as ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims.

Dissidents were sent to detention centers, such as the infamous S-21 Prison, also known as Tuol Sleng, in Phnom Penh, where men, women and children were tortured and killed.

As a result of the socio-political changes implemented by the Khmer Rouge, hundreds of thousands of people died from disease and starvation.

With this in mind, the main focus of the conference was that the ancient and time-tested wisdom of Buddhist teaching can be useful in promoting non-violence and problem-solving in times of crisis.

“I believe these conversations about mindfulness and peace need to be more prevalent on campus,” said Sothy Eng, associate professor at UH Manoa. “Raising awareness through such discussions is important to our university community. » (University of Hawaii News)

Among the three visiting monks, Ven. Kou Sopheap was born during the Cambodian Civil War and his family were peasants who lived in what is now Tboung Khmum Province. He is a professor of personal growth and development at Pannasastra University of Cambodia.

Fri. Hak Sieghai was also born in Cambodia. He is the founder and director of Buddhism for Education Cambodia (BEC), which teaches children to feel gratitude to their parents and practice morality. Fri. Sok Theavy is the founder of Dhammika Academy and Dhammika Life Foundation.

Event organizers gave the monks a tour of the university campus before their lecture. Fri. Kou Sopheap, Ven. Hak Sienghai and Ven. Sok Theavy also met with representatives of the East-West Center (EWC), co-sponsor of the conference, who shared information on the center's programming around Cambodian scholars and students.

The East-West Center was founded in 1960 by the U.S. Congress to serve as a resource for information, analysis, and the exchange of ideas on U.S. policy options in the Indo-Pacific region. The center, which has an alumni network of 70 and 000 partner organizations, is located on an 1-acre campus in Honolulu. The center also has an office in Washington, D.C., where it works to help the United States navigate a world in which the Asia-Pacific region is growing in political and socioeconomic importance.

See more

Buddhist monks inspire peace at UH Mānoa (University of Hawai'i News))
Khmer Rouge: Years of brutality in Cambodia (BBC News)
About (The East-West Center)

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The post Buddhist Monks' Peace Conference at the University of Hawaii at Manoa appeared first on Buddhadoor Global.

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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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