Welcome Speech 2012 - His Holiness the Most Venerable Phong Samaruks
Homage to the Triple Gems Members of the Sangha Ladies and gentlemen I am, on behalf of Lao Sangha and Lao people, very honoured to be a part of the conference today. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the organizing committee and Murdoch University to give me an opportunity to deliver a special remark here. It may take a little long time to talk about this and please kindly and patiently listen to my speech.
First of all, I would like to retell an old story of Buddhism. It is about an immigration or expansion of Buddhism from India to establish firmly in Sri Lanka led by Mahinda Thera and Sanghamitta Theri as pioneers. Before talking about this, I would like to talk about the propagation of Buddhism especially the story of Asoka, the Emperor, who has a strong conviction in Buddhism. He had built 84,000 pagodas to house the Buddha’s relics and also dispatched them through an entire Jampudipa or the Indian sub-continent by using his own expenses up to 80 billion kahapanas. Moreover, he was celebrating the pagodas for 7 years, 7 months and 7 days. When all the celebration and consecration were over, he then asked a monk whether, based on such huge contribution to Buddhism, he was an heir of Buddhism or not. The monk replied that he was not yet an heir of the religion. Then he asked the monk again for what kind of merit performance he should do to be the real heir of Buddhism. The monk told him that he should allow his son or daughter to be ordained in Buddhism, to learn and practice the Dhamma; this would be considered as the real successor of Buddhism. As mentioned, this is in compliance with the Buddha’s verse “sabba dānaṃ dhamma dānaṃ jināti” which means “the gift of Dhamma excels all other gifts”. For instance, when King Asoka spent his own properties approximately 80 billion kahapanas to build the pagodas; still he was not the real heir of Buddhism until he dedicated his beloved son and daughter to enter the Order to prolong Buddhism. At present, it is obviously seen that all of the King Asoka’s material properties to Buddhism nearly disappeared. However, the dedication of his son and daughter to be ordained at that time, still benefits the many, especially the Tipitaka, the most valuable legacy which has been handed down to all of us.
In addition, because of the Buddha, Arahat disciples and Asoka the Emperor, Buddhism has endured since then and this is a cause of our coming here together today to discuss and share our knowledge on Buddhism for better understanding, to bring it into practice, to cultivate inner peace especially in Australia and Asian regions as well as in the world. As this conference aims to promote understanding, wisdom, compassion, peace among Australia and Asian regional Buddhist cultures and in the world, so to study the Dhamma and bring it into practice is really needed. Even though the Buddha taught 84,000 Dhammas, it is difficult for us to remember and to practice. Let us confine to its essence that are: Non-doing all evil deeds, cultivating all good deeds and purify the mind. In addition, I would like to give a humble suggestion that the five precepts are also very important regarded as the fundamental factors leading to world peace. If people in the world can observe and practice the five precepts, there will be no wars; they will live in harmony and peace and monks also will live in accordance with the monastic principlesthe Vinaya which is the foundation of spiritual development. So this can create individual inner peace and contribute to world peace.
Therefore, today it is an auspicious and significant event that we have come together to discuss on academic knowledge of Buddhism, to recall the Buddha’s teachings in an academic way to promote Buddhist studies, to continue the mission of Asoka the Emperor, to review and exchange knowledge with each other from the past and understand the present situation of Buddhism and I do hope that after the conference, we will further cooperate with each to promote Buddhism in Australia and Asian regions and in the world and for the purpose of peace.
Finally, I would to wish the conference be successful.