UN Parallel Event II: Realizing Buddhist Values of Equality Through the Hope Village Initiative

In alignment with the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, the Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) hosted a parallel event on March 14th at the United Nations Church Center, bringing attention to the Hope Village education project in Chennai, India. 

Though Most Venerable Hsin Bau, President of the World Headquarters of BLIA, was unable to attend in person, his profound message resonated through a video address. He underscored Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s steadfast commitment to education and equality, highlighting equality as a foundational precept of Buddhism.

In his address, Most Venerable Hsin Bau highlighted the principle of equality, asserting that it grants every individual their rights. He stressed that equality fosters the freedom for individuals to explore and develop their potential, ultimately fostering personal growth and societal harmony. Furthermore, he expressed gratitude to all participants involved in the Hope Village project for their valuable contributions to this noble endeavour.

Panelist Venerable Yung Ku, Vice Secretary General of America East, highlighted that all charitable and educational endeavours undertaken by BLIA globally emanate from one individual - Venerable Master Hsing Yun, the Founding Master of Fo Guang Shan and the inaugural president of the Buddha’s Light International Association. She noted Venerable Master Hsing Yun's profound commitment to education, mentioning that Fo Guang Shan was initially established with the aim of founding a Buddhist college rather than a temple. Venerable Master delineated four fundamental principles for Fo Guang Shan: propagating Buddhist teachings through cultural activities, nurturing talents through education, benefiting societies through charitable programs, and purifying human hearts and minds through Buddhist practices. The educational scope is extensive, with 16 Buddhist colleges and five universities established across the US, Australia, the Philippines, and Taiwan. These educational institutions encompass kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, universities, and research institutes. Remarkably, Venerable Master Hsing Yun instructed the 300 temples he established to transition into ‘educational centers.’

"These educational accomplishments stem from someone who lacked even a primary school diploma. Amidst the tumultuous backdrop of war and chaos, Venerable Master's own deprivation of formal education fueled his unwavering resolve to establish educational institutions and provide support for talented yet economically disadvantaged students," remarked Venerable Yung Ku.

She emphasized that presenting the educational initiative of Hope Village in Chennai, India, at the United Nations reaffirms Venerable Master Hsing Yun's educational philosophy: while charity work is crucial, solely providing material donations like bread falls short. Granting access to education can profoundly alter lives. Venerable Master Hsing Yun, not only a spiritual leader but also an educator, touched numerous lives through education. Despite his passing last year, his educational contributions to the world will endure indefinitely.