The Honorable Buddhist leaders, Buddhists and distinguished guests,
I am pleased to meet you all today.
I am extraordinarily grateful to the Most Venerable Seoljeong of the Association of Korean Buddhist Orders and heads of the headquarters of Korea’s Buddhist orders for hosting this large-scale Buddhist gathering to pray for stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula ahead of the upcoming inter-Korean summit.
I was deeply impressed by the Most Venerable Seoljeong’s address on the Buddha’s teachings. I was greatly inspired by his words that all Buddhist temples across the country will join in chanting prayers every morning and evening for a week from this coming weekend in addition to today’s gathering.
While preparing for the inter-Korean summit, I have been revisiting one of the invaluable legacies of Korean Buddhism—hwajaeng or reconciliation of disputes. I understand that the philosophy of all-embracing reconciliation is about respecting and understanding each other to achieve harmony rising above differences and diversities.
The complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the most urgent task lying before us now, and it is the challenge that must be peacefully resolved. I hope you all pray with ardent aspiration for the spirit of reconciliation to be realized on the Korean Peninsula so that confrontation and division will dissipate.
Reconciliation from within is also important. Only when there is public consent and support will the inter-Korean relations be improved. I look forward to the whole Buddhist community taking the initiative in efforts to bring together the minds of the people.
A North Korea-United States summit is also scheduled to take place following the inter-Korean Summit. A great transition in the world history that can create a new international order is about to begin.
The wisdom of sustainable peace can be found in the Buddha’s teaching. I believe it is the practice of empathy and compassion out of enlightenment about non-duality between oneself and others. It is about paving the way for mutual prosperity and coexistence by tearing down the wall between the South and the North. Separated families on both sides should be reunited, stay in touch with each other and travel back and forth without any restraint.
Socio-economic and cultural exchanges have to follow, too. Religious exchanges for various projects, which the Buddhist community longs for, concerning Bohyeonsa Temple in Myohyangsan Mountain, Singyesa Temple in Geumgangsan Mountain and Yeongtongsa Temple in Gaeseong will be of great help. I sincerely hope that the Korean Peninsula will emerge as a chief architect of world peace by dismantling the last remaining Cold War rivalry in the world.
In order to realize the spirit of segyeilhwa, which literally means that the whole world is a single flower, the role of Buddhism is more crucial than ever before. The expression binjaildeung conveys the Buddhist belief that a poor person`s offering of a single lamp is more precious than the lavish offering of a rich person. I hope each of you will become a shining lamp lit up with great aspirations and utmost sincerity, illuminating the path for peace in the whole world, going beyond the Korean Peninsula.
Ruminating on the aspirations of the Buddhist community, I will move forward in a more wise and daring manner.
Venerable Buddhist monks and nuns and distinguished followers,
Buddhism has been a part of our nation for a long time. In the face of national crises, it shone more brightly. When Japan invaded Korea in 1592, the Venerable Seosan circulated a written appeal throughout the nation and raised a volunteer monastic army. The Venerable Samyeong, a disciple of the Venerable Seosan, went over to Japan as an envoy in the wake of the war and brought some 3,000 prisoners of war back home. Buddhist leaders and followers took the initiative in demonstrating what it truly means to serve the nation and its people.
The teachings of Buddhism continue today. The spirit of Buddhism is deeply embedded in the minds of the people consciously or unconsciously no matter whether they practice Buddhism or not. Pasahyeonjeong, or to right the wrongs and elucidate right teachings, and jabihaeng, or to treasure life and people, have become the driving force for making our society more mature and developing democracy.
Buddhists have gone all out to assist the less privileged around the world. They have reached out to Asia, Africa and Latin America and expanded the fields of their assistance to cover many areas such as supplying drinking water, providing education, supporting regional development and removing landmines. I am grateful and proud of them.
However, Korean Buddhism has suffered the painful ordeal of having their sacred places trampled on by the state power during the military dictatorship. It was the incident that occurred 38 years ago on October 27, 1980, when the military government raided Buddhist temples around the country and rounded up innocent monks and nuns. I take this opportunity to express my profound regret for the deep wounds still remaining in the Buddhist community. I also hope that the honor of the Buddhist orders will be properly restored and the Korean Buddhist community will grow in harmony and prosper.
The Buddha said if one person is pure, many people will become pure, and if many people become pure, the entire world will become pure. I hope that with the power of ardent aspiration, Buddhism will become the driving force that leads Korean society to become more righteous.
I am fond of Buddhist teachings. I feel that the Buddhist worldview, which I came to understand while reading the Blue Cliff Record, a book about Buddhism from the Song Dynasty, China, and the questions and answers on Seon (Jp. Zen) Buddhism by founders of Buddhist orders, has been firmly established as a pillar of my worldview.
After receiving your pure energy today, I feel like the inter-Korean summit and the summit between North Korea and the United States will turn out well. The warm spring has arrived on the Korean Peninsula. I hope you will continue to join with us in order to achieve genuine peace and harmony.
Thank you very much.