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

IV Public Meeting Thursday, November 12, 1981- Reports and Opening Remarks

HENRY O. THOMPSON: Good Evening. Welcome to the second evening of the Global Congress of the World's Religions meeting in Seoul, Korea. I am Hank Thompson, Dr. Henry O. Thompson, Secretary to the Board of Trustees. Our Secretary of the Board of Trustees is Archie Bahm sitting here in the second row. We have David Kalupahana, President for Communications, here on my right. Several other Trustees, Dr. Seshagiri Rao, and Dr. Padmasiri de Silva are here.

We continually seek the support and help of people who are interested in the work of the GCWR. If you are interested in helping with the work in your own area or wherever you happen to be, would you contact one of us and let us know. We want to have your name and address so we can be in touch with you. Dr. Kalupahana of the University of Hawaii will take a few minutes to share deliberations of the Board of Trustees.

DAVID KALUPAHANA: Welcome once again to the GCWR. We have been giving reports at each annual meeting since the idea of a Global Congress was initiated in 1977.

We inaugurated the GCWR in Miami Beach last year. We have a Board of Trustees of eleven members, including three Presidents. We have had several discussions during this period on various topics relating to inter-religious dialogue, centered on various geographical areas. At the last meeting in Miami, it was decided that we need to have regional consultations in many parts of the world. We are considering Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Japan, Pakistan, India and the United States.

You heard last evening of the inauguration of the African Institute for the Study of Human Values. Dr. John Sodipo reported on behalf of Dr. Francis Botchway, the President of the Institute. Dr. Botchway is a trustee of the GCWR. He has discussed the possibilities of having such an Institute in previous sessions of the GCWR. We would like to think of the GCWR as playing a part in the establishment of this Institute. Congratulations to President Botchway, Vice-President Gyekye, Dr. Sodipo, and all others who have had a part in its foundation.

We were planning to have a meeting in New Delhi, India. Unfortunately, we were not able to arrange this meeting. Plans are now under way for meeting in Varanasi and Mysore. But in the meanwhile, we had a small meeting in a rather insignificant place called Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon.1 That meeting turned out to be a great success, as you heard last night. I would like to add that in Sri Lanka, various religious traditions exist, like Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Bahai. We also have two major ethnic groups, Sinhalese and Tamils. Conflicts between these two ethnic groups have been going on for more than 2000 years. Our August GCWR meeting called for religious harmony. Immediately after this was reported in the local newspapers, one of the leaders of the government called for religious harmony among the Tamils and the Sinhalese, something that has never been brought up during these many centuries. The conflict between the Sinhalese and the Tamils has been thought of as conflicts between linguistic groups.2 We never thought of religious harmony as the foundation for harmony of the two ethnic groups. I believe that the reason this has been emphasized now is that we who are crying for religious harmony in the world happened to be present at that place. Those people who are in political power heard our cry. That is my suspicion, at least. I think that was a concrete result that we achieved through the Global Congress.

In January, Dr. Isma'il al Faruqi hopes to have a meeting in Islamabad (see the report later in this text). We will probably have another meeting in Europe though I am not quite sure when.3 In the meantime we also plan to have a series of discussion groups. Some have suggested that we should have one in South America. Some have suggested that we should have more consultation groups in North America. We may be able to have a meeting in Japan this Fall.4 We also hope to have a meeting in Hawaii, perhaps in the summer of 1983. We believe that by doing these things, we will be able to convince people that it is high time for us to get together and have dialogue. We want to understand each other's religious beliefs and see whether there is a way in which we can live in peace and harmony.

We are grateful to the International Cultural Foundation of the Unification Church and the Unification Theological Seminary of the Unification Church for lending us support to the extent that they have done. In the few meetings of the GCWR which we have had we have not been able to hear from all of the religions of the world. There is one religion that was very prominent in one part of the world. This area has been completely submerged by foreign invasions. A certain country was completely wiped off of the map. The people are without roots now. It is a group of people that preserved a very valuable spiritual tradition. They were thrown all over the world without a homeland. We thought it was appropriate for us to give an opportunity to this religious tradition to present itself -- present its ideas before the Global Congress. In March this year I sent an invitation to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, inviting him to be present at this session of the GCWR.

In the meantime, Dr. Anne Bancroft, one of our very enthusiastic workers, had an audience with the Dalai Lama. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama himself, could not be present. However he was willing to send a delegation who could explain to us the religious traditions that he represents as well as the attitude that he holds towards a dialogue with other religious traditions. We are indeed fortunate that we have representatives of His Holiness, the

Dalai Lama with us tonight.

We have here with us Mr. Pema Gyalpo Gyari who is the liaison officer for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama for South and Northeast Asia. He left Tibet in 1959. He attended school in Tokyo and graduated from Asia University in Tokyo with an LL. B. degree. He studied at Sophia University in Tokyo and at the Tokyo Institute of Foreign Languages. He was a Research Fellow there and subsequently functioned as a guest lecturer at the Asian Studies Institute of Asia University. He is now the Managing Director of the Tibet Cultural Center in Tokyo. In May-August, 1980, he was a member of the second fact finding delegation of His Holiness to Tibet. This was led by Mr. Tenzin N. Tethong, the Representative for North America, who is with us tonight. Mr. Tethong is the former editor of the journal Sheja (in Tibetan) and the Tibetan Review (in English), both published in India. He worked with the Council of Tibetan Education for many years. In addition we are really fortunate in having a very distinguished Lama representing the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He is the Venerable Geshe Tenpa Gyaltsen, who is seated next to me. He is a monk scholar from Drepung Monastery. It was the largest monastic university in Tibet.5 He received the Acharya Degree from Benares Sanskrit University. Presently he is a Research Fellow at the Tokyo Bunko Library in Tokyo. He is an adviser and religious instructor at the Tibetan Cultural Center in Tokyo. He will speak later.

At this time, I present to you Mr. Pema Gyalpo.


1 Editor's note: The audience "caught" Dr. Kalupahana's quiet humor in the word "insignificant." He is from Sri Lanka, the "Pearl of the Indian Ocean," an incredibly beautiful island east of the southern tip of India. Its beauty is reflected in its ancient name, which means "Resplendent Island." Its ancient name is Taprobane. The origin of "Ceylon" is uncertain. It may simply be a slurring of Sri Lanka. Out of its 14 million people about 72% are Theravada Buddhist Sinhalese (also spelled Singhalese) and 20.5% are Hindu Tamils. There are also Muslim Moors, descendants of Dutch and Portuguese colonists and Eurasians. There are still several thousand Vedas, the original inhabitants, who were conquered in the sixth century B.C.E. by the Sinhalese from northern India. This conquest may be reflected in the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. Buddhism was introduced during the reign of Devanampiya Tissa (307-267 B.C.E.) by the daughter and son of the Mauryan Emperor Asoka. Arab traders arrived in the 10th century, the Portuguese in the early 16th, the Dutch in the mid-17th and the British in 1795. Ceylon is on the sea routes to Southeast Asia and the East Indies. It became an independent nation February 4, 1948, with dominion status in the British Commonwealth. In 1972, Ceylon became Sri Lanka and a Republic. The New Columbia Encyclopedia (hereafter NCE); NY: Columbia University Press, 1975, p. 2603. Young Oon Kim, World Religions, Vol. 2; NY: Golden Gate Publishing Co., 1976. Tissa Fernando and Robert N. Kearney, eds. Modern Sri Lanka: Syracuse: Syracuse University, 1979. K.M. deSilva, Sri Lanka: Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii, 1977. Hans J. Aubert and Ulf E. Mullen Sri Lanka Ceylon: Perle des Indischen Ozeans: Mtinchen: BLV Verlags-gesellchaft, 1974. Basil L.C. Johnson and M. LeM. Scrivenor, Sri Lanka: Land, People and Economy; London: Heineman Educational Books, 1981.

2 "Sinhalese" is an Indie language of the Indo-Iranian section of the Indo-European language group. Tamil, a language spoken by some 40 million people, is one of the four major languages of the Dravidian group. Dravidian may have been the pre-Aryan language of India. Today, these 20 languages are spoken mostly in central and southern India, and northern Sri Lanka. Sinhalese is spoken primarily in Sri Lanka. NCE -- 2525, 1332-1333, 794. Fernando and Kearney, op. cit., pp. 5-7.

3 A GCWR meeting was held in Bristol, England in 1978. See pp. 203-297 in Towards a Global Congress of World Religions ed. Warren Lewis; Barrytown, NY: Unification Theological Seminary, 1978.

4 As we go to press, this has been changed to the Spring, 1983.

5 Drepung monastery outside the capital city of Lhasa was built in 1416 A.D. Before the Chinese occupation in 1951, Drepung had over 10,000 monks. Through the centuries, it has been both a major center of learning and of political power. According to Pradyumna P. Karan, it was attacked by the Chinese during the Tibetan uprising in 1959. Since then, part of it has been "maintained as a showcase exhibit for foreign dignitaries." Most of the 2,500 monasteries in Tibet have been destroyed. Worship has been abolished since 1968. The Changing Face of Tibet: The Impact of Chinese Communist Ideology on the Landscape (hereafter KCFT); Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1976, pp. 13, 64, 70-71. Rolf A. Stein, Tibetan Civilization (hereafter STC); Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1972, pp. 139-140. 

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