The Global Congress World's Religions Proceedings 1980-1982 Edited by Henry O. Thompson

I Opening Remarks First Session

Henry O. Thompson: Good evening. Welcome to the GCWR meeting in Seoul, Korea. My name is Henry O. Thompson. I am Secretary to the Board of Trustees of the Global Congress of the World's Religions.

We have with us this evening here on my left, one of the three Presidents of the Global Congress, Dr. David Kalupahana, President for Communication. Dr. Kalupahana is with the Department of Philosophy at the University of Hawaii. We have Dr. Archie Bahm in the front row on the end. Dr. Bahm is retired Professor of Religion from the University of New Mexico, and is Secretary of the Trustees. Perhaps later this evening our Treasurer Dr. Ismail R. al Faruqi will be with us. Dr. al Faruqi is Professor of Islamics at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa. He is presently detained with another program. We have two of our general Board members with us this evening: Dr. Seshagiri Rao, Professor of Religion at the University of Virginia, and Dr. Padmasiri de Silva, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Philosophy, University of Penadeniya, Sri Lanka. We will be hearing from Dr. de Silva later in the program. There has been a slight change in the order of our program. We will hear the address first from Dr. Philip H. Hwang. Later we will have the reports from Dr. de Silva and a report on the inauguration this past summer of the African Institute for the Study of Human Values.

It is a pleasure to welcome to this meeting our speakers for tomorrow evening -- Representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We have with us tonight Mr. Pema Gyalpo Gyari, Liaison Officer of the Dalai Lama in his office in Tokyo and the Venerable Geshe Tfenpa Gyaltsen, also from the Tokyo office. We also have with us this evening Mr. Tenzin Tethong, who is the Dalai Lama's representative for North America. Mr. Tethong's office is in New York City. They will be speaking tomorrow night in our program at 8:00 p.m., here in this same room. You are all most welcome. I hope you will be with us.

We have two other persons from Sri Lanka, Dr. Labuduwe Siridhamma, and the Venerable Ananda Mangala although the Venerable Mangala is now living in Singapore. We extend a special welcome to you to our program this evening and again tomorrow night.

In the foyer as you came in you may or may not have noticed what we colloquially call the "big book." Last year when we inaugurated the Global Congress of the World's Religions we started a large book of signatures. People who are willing to express their support of the Global Congress can sign this book as an expression of that support and of their interest. If you would like to join us in this great venture, please sign the book. It is on the table in the foyer against that wall. If you have not already seen it you are most welcome to sign that book after our program this evening and we welcome your signature and your support.

Many of you have already signed your name and address at our desk in the Lotte Hotel foyer on the second floor. But if you have not yet given us your name and address and would like to be included in future mailings, would you be sure and sign on one of the several sign-up sheets going around. We need your name and address so that we can be in touch with you when we have something to share with you.

You will hear more tomorrow night from our Trustees and from Dr. Kalupahana as he reports on the current and hoped for activities of our Global Congress in the near future. I hope that you will come back tomorrow evening and hear that portion of our program. Dr. Kalupahana will introduce our speaker this evening.

David Kalupahana: Venerable Sirs, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is indeed my privilege to welcome you to the first regular meeting of the GCWR after its inauguration in Miami Beach in November, 1980.

As some of you are aware, the Global Congress came into existence after the lengthy discussions and communications with academicians who are involved in the study of the World's Religions. The inspiration for this Congress came from Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The moral and financial support has been provided so far by two institutions associated with the Unification Church.

At this time it is my duty to express our indebtedness to the International Cultural Foundation of New York. The ICF has enabled us to meet regularly during the last five years, during their meetings, one of which we are attending this week, the International Conference of the Unity of Sciences. The second group from the Unification Church that has been supporting us is the Unification Theological Seminary with Mr. David Kim as its President. They have rendered yeoman service to the Global Congress by providing facilities for the founding members of the Global Congress to meet at various places and at various times, in order to organize this Global Congress. We, the Board of Trustees of the Global Congress of the World's Religions, are very much indebted to these two institutions.

Today's meeting is in a sense unprecedented. Most of the meetings that we have had so far during the last five or six years were primarily attended by what I would call lay persons. Today, for the first time, we have several religious dignitaries. Two of them represent the Theravada Buddhist tradition in Sri Lanka and three represent the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

I am sure all of you will agree with me that the Global Congress is not only strengthened by their presence but it is also sanctified by their presence. I have had the opportunity of addressing the Global Congress when we had the meetings called Towards a Global Congress -- meetings of the Global Congress in its formation. I had the opportunity to speak several times at these meetings but today is the only time I could address this group with the words Venerable Sirs, Ladies and Gentlemen.'

On behalf of the Global Congress I wish to extend a warm welcome to these religious dignitaries. I hope that their participation will lend more serenity and sacredness to the adventures that the Global Congress has undertaken. It is not a mere accident that this change in the constituency of the Global Congress has taken place when we happen to meet in a place called the Land of the Morning Calm. I sincerely hope that this serenity and calmness that have been injected into the life of the Global Congress will remain for us forever, as we struggle to understand the great diversity as well as the uniformity of the religious experiences of mankind. We have started with the assumption that there is diversity in the religious experiences of mankind. We are guided by the belief that the diversity need not lead to conflict among various religiously motivated persons. We are not dedicated to discovering what the right or the true religion is as opposed to what is false, but to understanding the common springs of the religious behavior of humanity. We are inspired by the hope that such a discovering and understanding will enable us to put an end to the conflict rampant in a world of dogmatism and intolerance. We are encouraged by the growing sympathy for the efforts and endeavors of the Global Congress of the World's Religions and finally we are convinced that our efforts will succeed so long as we act with sincerity and tolerance.

It is indeed my privilege today to introduce our keynote speaker tonight. He is Professor Philip H. Hwang who has a very distinguished career not only here in Seoul, but also in America. At present he is Professor of Philosophy at Dong guk University -- a Buddhist University in Seoul. He has his B.A. in Philosophy of Religion from the Seoul National University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma, where he taught for a while. He has devoted his life to comparative religion and comparative philosophy. He has authored two valuable contributions. One is an Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, 3rd ed. (Seoul: Chong. Ro Pub. Co., 1981). His doctoral dissertation is an important critical study of Mencius' Philosophy of Human Nature With Special Reference to Kant and Confucius, available through University Microfilms of Ann Arbor, Michigan. His Ph.D. is from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma.

He was born into a Christian family. He says that at one stage he was a Jesus freak. Now he is devoting his time to the study of Confucianism. He told me that he is very interested in getting into Buddhism. Maybe I am interested in Buddhism too -- that is why he wanted to say that. No -- the reason why he wanted to say that is that he is genuinely interested in comparative religion and philosophy! He is going to speak to us tonight on a very valuable topic, very relevant to the theme of the GCWR. It is "Inter-religious Dialogue -- Its Reasons, Attitudes and Necessary Assumptions." Dr. Hwang.

Dr. Philip H. Hwang: Mr. President, distinguished Board members of the GCWR and Ladies and Gentlemen. I am greatly honored to be invited to share with you some of the thoughts I have been thinking for the last several years, particularly since I came back to Korea in 1978.

I would like to say two things before I start reading my paper. The first is that I was given very little time to write this paper. The copy you have is only one half the full length of the paper. I will expand while I am reading the paper.

Secondly, I was given virtually no information about the nature of the paper. I suppose there are in general two kinds of papers. One is delivered to a general audience like this, and the second is more for small group discussions with the emphasis on logical argument.

Initially, my paper more or less was for the second category. I made some changes at the last minute. How it will come out, I do not know. However, I hope you will be able to follow the reasoning. 

Table of Contents

Tparents Home

Moon Family Page

Unification Library