Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) and Nusantara Foundation proudly present the panel discussion on “Interfaith Prayer, Healing and Community Service in the Cause for Peace” during the 2015 World Interfaith Harmony Week on February 5th.

H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan first proposed World Interfaith Harmony Week at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010. A month later, UN unanimously adopted the proposal and the first week of February becomes the World Interfaith Harmony Week. Operating under the imperative need for religious tolerance, the harmony week provides a safe platform for people of good will to show the world the importance of religious harmony.

Hundred of delegates, scholars and religious leaders from different religions gathered in the ECOSOC chamber to discuss the prospect of interfaith harmony. Through constructive dialogues, leaders from various civil societies and religious groups hoped to facilitate peace, tolerance, mutual understanding and respect among all people, especially when 2014 proved to be a challenging year for world peace.

“We are living in a very challenging time,” said Imam Shamsi Ali, the founder of Nusantara Foundation and the co-chair of the panel, during the opening remark. In 2014, the world has witnessed terrorist attacks in France, ISIS insurgencies, and much violence in the name of religion. “These actions are unacceptable and fully condemned”, said Ali.

The key to solving religious conflict is through nurturing mutual religious and cultural understanding, said Muhammad Anshor, the Deputy Permanent Representatives of Indonesia. “Peace and harmony are not stable, continuing efforts are needed to promote them,” he said.

Promoting peace and harmony has been the mission of BLIA. Venerable Chuehchuan Shih and Youwang Shih, along with dozens of volunteers and BLIA Young Adult Division members, attended the discussion. During the panel, Ven. Youwang Shih emphasized the importance of communication in the effort of building lasting peace.

Nowadays, it is easy for people to communicate through social media and travel around the world, yet miscommunications still causes much misfortunes in the world, said Ven. Youwang. The lack of tolerance, mutual forgiveness, understanding and respect construct a mental barrier between people, which leads to discrimination and outbursts.

The keys to break the vicious cycle are kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. Ven. Youwang also advocates for the practices of three acts of goodness: doing good deeds, speaking good words, thinking good thoughts.

“Let’s fill the world with compassion and kindness,” said Ven. Youwang. “ And bring joy to all those around us.”

The BLIA Young Adult Division members performed a song called “Harmonize” which was written by Venerable Master Hsing Yun and composed by one of the YAD members in the closing ceremony.