Indonesian Buddhist Youth Association Holds Interfaith Dialogue on Religious Moderation

- through Henry Oudin

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The Indonesian Buddhist Youth Association (YBA) recently co-hosted an interfaith dialogue on religious moderation that explored the question: Does religious moderation conflict with religious teachings? The event, co-organized by the religious education program Pendidikan Studi Agama, brought together prominent figures from the Buddhist, Christian and Hindu communities of Indonesia. The dialogue was moderated by artist and History Ambassador William Umboh of the Habibie Center, an independent NGO working to advance modernization and democratization in Indonesia based on cultural integrity and religious values.

The Young Buddhist Association (YBA) is the main Buddhist youth organization in Indonesia. Through a deep belief in the Buddha's message of compassion, growth and liberation, the association promotes a positive way of life among young people in order to cultivate a society based on wisdom, compassion and gratitude. The association is involved in the establishment of Buddhist organizations throughout the country, the dissemination of Dharma study among young people and leadership training.

Bhikkhu Dhammasubho Mahathera. Image courtesy of YBA

Buddhist leader Bhikkhu Dhammasubho Mahathera noted that Shakyamuni Buddha's teachings are based on the Middle Way (Pali: Majjhimapatipada), which avoids extremes.

“Siddhartha, who was the son of a king and an only child, left behind his life of luxury, because he was an anti-establishment person, and underwent various forms of asceticism,” Bhikku Dhammasubho Mahathera said.

He explained that after enduring various privations, the Buddha finally found a middle way between extraordinary luxury and extraordinary self-mortification which is characterized by the Noble Eightfold Path consisting of: right understanding, right intention, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. “According to the Buddha, these eight elements are good for oneself, good for others and good for the environment, so with this right understanding there will be no conflict in anything,” he stressed.

Speaking on behalf of the Christian community, Pastor Aryanto Nugroho expressed his view that Jesus Christ lived among Jews who were very bigoted and antipathetic towards non-Jews, and therefore, he led reforms between Jewish and non-Jewish communities: “Jesus Christ taught that a religious relationship with God does not require us to sever ties with our fellow men. Those who are Unitarian Christians believe that God is truly one. If there is only one God who is worshiped by all humans, of course, salvation does not belong to any particular religious institution. . . . As such, we and other people may wear different clothes, but the fact is that we all worship the one God.

Meanwhile, Hindu leader KA Widiantara, chairman of Acarya Media Nusantara, said that while the teachings of monks and priests of various religious differed in form, they were in fact very similar in substance.

He looked at religious moderation from the Hindu perspective, referring to the traditional concept of "Tri Hita Karana", which emphasizes harmony with God, harmony between people and harmony with nature, which shows how people can live side by side, full of tolerance and peace: "The Tri Hita Karana is what makes us live in this world in harmony, regardless of our background. In our teachings, we teach that all living beings are brothers and sisters; the point here is tolerance,” he said.

The President of the Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia, Limanyono Tanto, expressed his gratitude to the participants of the event, noting that the YBA itself was an open and inclusive organization, supporting all religious moderation activities: “And with this religious moderation, we are able to spread the teachings of Buddhism and strengthen friendships with our brothers and sisters among religious people in Indonesia.”

Image courtesy of YBA

Although officially a secular state, Indonesia is home to a diversity of religious and spiritual communities and traditions. Islam is the most widespread religion, observed by 86,7% of the population, according to 2018 national data. Christian traditions account for 10,7%, Hinduism 1,7%, and Confucianism, folk and other traditions account for 0,08%.

Buddhism, practiced by 0,8% of the population, or about two million people, is the second oldest spiritual tradition in Indonesia after Hinduism. According to historical accounts, Buddhism first flourished on the archipelago around the XNUMXth century, followed by the rise and fall of a number of powerful Buddhist empires, including the Shailendra dynasty (c. XNUMXth-XNUMXth centuries), Srivijaya Empire (c. Today, the majority of Indonesian Buddhists are affiliated with the Mahayana schools of Buddhism, although there are also Theravada and Vajrayana communities of practitioners.

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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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