Unification News for November 1996
International RYS Project Taipei, Taiwan 1996
by the RYS staff, Taipei, Taiwan
A glorious example of love and harmony through cooperation and coexistence was displayed by participants in the 1996 International RYS Project recently held in Taipei, Taiwan from Aug. 21 to 31. Participants from Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, USA, Japan, Singapore and Australia were drawn together representing their nation and religious tradition. Their love for God and humanity was expressed through ten days of inter-religious action. Their hopes for world peace became a reality over this period through a substantial model of unity. Included were service work, recreational and cultural activities, and general internal guidance in order to recognize the meaning of "service for others" as the purpose of life. Other activities included group discussions and interaction to learn more about religion, culture and the self. It was a chance for participants to discover spiritual principles and ideals as a common foundation for true unification and world peace.
To mark the beginning of this international RYS project, an opening ceremony was held at convention facilities in the heart of Taipei. Dr. Thiagaraja, secretary general of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism, accompanied by his wife, offered the opening prayer. Welcoming remarks were given by Dr. Peter Kun Yu Woo with a response and introduction to RYS given by the International Project directors Drs. Ronald Burr and Sherry Hartmann- Burr. A must for any group activity is of course the group picture, which closed the opening ceremony. Our place of abode for the duration of our service work was at the Tzu Hui Buddhist Temple.
On Aug. 22 after a hearty breakfast prepared by our ever-serving staff, we began a full day of work orientation. We touched on the fundamentals of leadership and its value relative to individuals, teams and RYS objectives, engaging in exercises to stimulate various aspects of our mind through which we express ourselves, and to understand the personality parameters of our intellect (active, creative), emotion (bright, lively) and will (initiating, taking responsibility). We undertook an exercise to develop an ideal or vision for our RYS project through which we could mindfully understand the meaning of true character-"having the spirit to think of, unconditionally embrace and serve others." In the afternoon we visited the National Palace Museum, viewing many artifacts of successive Imperial Chinese collections from the various dynasties of the past.
After morning meditation and breakfast the following day, we started our on a 15-minute walk to the project site at the Kuang-Tzu Elderly Hostel of Taipei. We were given a brief talk on paint-stripping, plastering and painting techniques. We arranged ourselves into teams and each was allocated a certain area of the hostel. The first day was a day of learning, giving us the opportunity to become more orderly and time-efficient, smoothing off our rough edges in preparation for the remaining four days of service work. With an opportunity to learn something about another faith, we assembled for a lecture on "Christian and Confucian Contributions to the Future of Democracy" by Dr. Peter Kun Yu Woo, dean at the Department of Philosophy, University of Taiwan. We had a Buddhist presentation in the evening, with some reflection time before retiring.
Every morning participants were able to share their traditional prayer or meditation activities. After breakfast Aug. 24, we commenced our work at the elderly hostel. Because of the previous day's work, many had an idea of what was required preparing and painting more efficiently. We were starting to embrace the elderly, with some very touching experiences. Our afternoon was taken up by a visit to the Taipei Botanical Gardens and the National Museum of History. After dinner we prepared for a lecture presentation on Tao given by Prof. Wong. After discussion we closed our day around 10pm.
We prepared for an early start Sunday, Aug. 25, rising at 5:30am. We departed on a one-day tour to Yan Ming mountain, which showed signs of volcanic activities, hissing steam and sulfur. We spent the afternoon in a mountain park quoting from religious scriptures and playing games, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Later in the afternoon we attended Catholic mass and a hospitable dinner and talk on church activities hosted by the priest. We were fortunate to have Tag Hamad from the International Religious Foundation drop by after the Federation of Peninsular Nations conference to deliver a message to RYS participants from Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, chairman and president of IRF.
On Monday, Aug. 26 we continued our service work at the elderly hostel, working very hard and often covered in paint. We made an afternoon visit to Lung Shan Temple (Tao-Buddhist) and were shown around by an informative guide. In the evening we prepared for a lecture presentation on Christianity and received a startling insight into the decay of mainstream Christianity since the end of World War II. Since Christianity was prepared to be the bride of Christ, its decay shows us that "he is at the very gates."
On Tuesday, Aug. 27 we continued our service work, moving into new areas of the hostel block after each day's work. In the afternoon we visited the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation. We were given a warm welcome and an informative presentation on the worldwide activities of Tzu Chi. By 5pm we were back at the temple preparing for a lecture presentation on "An Introduction to Yi Kuan Tao," an informative and humorous presentation. After dinner we were treated to traditional Chinese Buddhist orchestral music at the Tzu Hui Buddhist Temple with some exciting traditional dancing to cheer the spirit.
On Wednesday, Aug. 28 we continued our action-packed schedule, meeting for breakfast at the elderly hostel. We spent two hours hard labor preparing to complete our work. By 10:30am we had washed down, and all the staff and participants spent 45 minutes as one group visiting the work sites of all the teams. It was an inspiration to see our completed work and brought great joy to our hearts. The elders greatly appreciated our work, showing their gratitude with waves and smiles. We spent the afternoon preparing decorations for our cultural evening of song and dance before saying good-bye to Dr. Ron, our project director. The evening was very successful, with performers and audience sharing the delight.
On Thursday, Aug. 29 we made preparations to leave Tzu Hui Temple. We boarded the bus at 9am, our first stop being at a Muslim mosque before departing to Tao Yuan city to attend an International Peace Conference hosted by the religious leader Yang Tien Chang of the Jing Chyueh religion, a new religious movement, uniting Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. It was a religious ceremony with members of the Japanese royal family in attendance. Immediately after the ceremony, we boarded our bus heading for central Taiwan. We arrived early in the evening at the Lord of the Universe church, and were given a warm welcome by church members. We had dinner and then prepared for a cultural performance in front of the majestic temple building. Some wonderful and entertaining performances were presented.
The following morning, Aug. 30, we were shown around the main temple building, visiting the museum which displayed photos and artifacts of the church's history and founders. We assembled in an upstairs lecture hall to hear Dr. Darrol Bryant of IRFWP offer an explanation of the history and purpose of RYS, explaining that this was the 57th International RYS Project. We were soon back on the bus heading for the training center at Fuan Yan, our spiritual retreat for the next day or so. We started our afternoon activities with a three-hour period of silent reflection. In the evening we attended an exciting dinner, with toasts and picture-taking, hosted by Mr. Chang, the national president of IRF-Taiwan.
As the last day of the project dawned, we climbed the hill behind the center to offer our last morning meditation and prayer. We assembled in the classroom to evaluate the project, indicating our feelings during different aspects of our RYS experience. We also planned and modeled a vision around basic principles which would help us in our effort to continue the spirit of RYS in our nations. After lunch we held the closing ceremony, with candles lit, solemn prayers and songs of farewell.
For most of us, the ideal or vision of our RYS project changed from mindful faith to incarnate wisdom as we met with it face to face. Our experience was a testimony to the attainment of world peace and harmony transcending race, religion, nation and language in our lifetime when mankind finally will live in the love of God.
A number of brief testimonies were given by some of the participants. The following are some excerpts from those testimonies:
"This was an incidental opportunity-I did not believe in God. I do not know why I joined RYS. I learned about cooperation and hard work. I have never shared or expressed my feelings in public. This is my first time to share in front of brothers and sisters. Through this RYS project I learned to be more orderly and apply it in my daily life. I have learned so much. I could learn more about history from the museums and religious talks. I feel grateful to RYS because now I'm able to love, respect and learn about other religions. I must start to serve my own family now. I encourage all brothers and sisters to reflect on what we learned and apply it in our daily life." -Dave, Taiwan
"I feel lucky to have had this opportunity to join RYS. I went to pray with a Muslim brother and could learn from him and feel more spiritual. For many people it was the first time to take up a brush and paint. I was surprised when we walked around at the end that we achieved so much although we spent so few hours working. I think it was possible because of our unity." -Jay, Taiwan
"Although there were differences of race, religion, nation and language we could still work together. I hope we can all organize mini-RYS projects so we can share this experience with others." - Grant, Philippines
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