Geneva, October 6, 2002Opening Remarks by Master Sheng Yen
Women religious and spiritual leaders of the world:
First, I would like to wish success to all the women religious and spiritual leaders of this Global Peace Initiative. I pray that the convocation of this conference today in Geneva will bring hope to and lay the foundations for the cause of everlasting peace for all people throughout the world, and open the door to greater happiness and well-being.
Second, I would like to convey my respect for the great women of the world. Regardless of whether history has preserved their names, women in human society have always been men's strongest partner and most reliable support. For all the accomplishments for which men are given credit, half the contributions have come from women. How then could it not be that in the world's religions, there have always been women surrounding the founders and leaders, standing at their sides and at their backs, providing inspiration, care, and support? Moreover, not a few great religious figures have themselves been women.
Today, in the twenty-first century, the equality of men and women has already become the consensus of the civilized world. Thus Dena Merriam conceived and organized this Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders, which convenes here today. Here in Geneva the best and brightest women of the world's religions have been brought together to discuss how they can together use spiritual values to assist the United Nations in preserving the traditional cultures and religions of the world's peoples, easing world conflict, encouraging ethnic harmony, and dealing with such problems as the oppression of women and abuse of children, as well as pervasive poverty and disaster relief.
In all ancient cultures of the world, the sky is referred to as the father of all things and the earth as their mother. The maternal and the paternal contribute equally to the earth and sky's creation and nourishing of all things. In the scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism, wisdom is described as paternal and compassion as maternal. When wisdom and compassion work together, we can liberate sentient beings from their afflictions and rom their sufferings. Wisdom is the result of inner cultivation. Compassion is universal love in action. From this we can see that the female spirit creates the world and can give rise to new life as well as bring humanity lasting peace and ensure the endless renewal of the world's natural resources.
Though limited in my influence, I have spent the last ten to twenty years promoting enduring human peace through campaigns to protect the spiritual environment and establish a pure land on earth. Protecting the spiritual environment means maintaining inner peace and tranquility. No matter what situations you encounter, as long as you deal with it wisely you need not struggle in panic and agony; as long as you deal with others compassionately, you will not be driven by conflicting feelings of love and hate to harm either yourself or others. A crisis can, in this way, become the start of good fortune. The pure land on earth is a call to all humanity at this time and place to actively and extensively promote a wisdom rooted in selflessness and a compassion directed equally to all, rather than simply waiting to go to our ultimate reward. This is how we can eliminate the human disasters of enmity, conflict, discrimination, misunderstanding, violence, terror, destruction, and inequality. Natural disasters, too, can diminish this way.
Finally, let me again convey my best wishes for this first global peace initiative of women religious and spiritual leaders. May you meet with complete success.
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