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Special Session, Oct. 11

Martin Putna
Dear delegates, dear guests, ladies and gentlemen, in the following part of our discussion we will speak about visions that certain world religions offer to the world in the third millennium. However, before that I will try to explain to you -our foreign guests -the religious point of view in the country where our discussion is taking place.

We find ourselves in a country where almost all the churches, the noble gothic and baroque churches, are Catholic, and almost all of them are rather empty. We find ourselves in a country where the majority of inhabitants if questionedare highly appreciative of the Czech religious reformer, Jan Hus, and critical of the Roman Catholic church. However, only a negligible percentage of the population belongs to the Protestant church.

We also find ourselves in a country where people are afraid of Islam as a religion: to them, it seems strange, aggressive and dangerous. But, please do not tr y to ask anybody - except a few specialists -of what the Islamic religion consists. We find ourselves in a country where many people are in favour of the strange phenomenon known as "eastern religion", but the same people hardly know the difference between Buddhism and Hinduism, not to mention subtler distinctions. What is even worse, they cannot tell the difference between the ancient Asian religions and some contemporary American sects - sects that are rather naive, extortionate or both, sects that juggle with the noble religious slogans. Either way, we find our - selves in the most atheistic country in the world.

What should we do in this situation? Who can offer something to the confused souls of the people in this country? Of course, I know, you could easily answer that we have no time for solving questions concerning the spiritual state of one small country, which is famous only thanks to the architecture of its capital, thanks to some composers, and thanks to President Havel, because our task is to solve world questions. Nevertheless, is not the spiritual state of one small national community also testimony to the condition of the soul of the whole world?

We do respect your religions, and we even sometimes read your holy books, but why should we become a member of any religious organisation if we can find the light in our own hearts? Believe me, I would not ask such questions if I did not hope that your speeches, your visions about the future of religion in the world of the third millennium, will reveal, at least a little bit, of the answer.

Preparing this panel, I thought about the right order of contributions and had an idea. Unless anyone objects, the order of addresses will follow the direction in which believers of all the three faiths use to turn whilst praying - which is towards the East. I hope this direction, this turning to the source of the light, will be acceptable to everyone.

Therefore, the nearest to the East of our guests comes from the borders between Europe and Asia. He comes from the city that used to be the centre of the Christian world, that still is the capital of world orthodoxy, but at the same time it is one of the greatest cities of the Islamic world. He comes from the city named Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul, or in our Slavonic languages Cařihrad, the city of emperors. The man who will be speaking to us knows what it feels like to be at the top of ecclesiastical responsibility, as well as to be in the condition of a negligible minority. Your All Holiness, ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, may ask you for your contribution.

His All Holiness Bartholomew
Thank you, moderator.

We people of religion have to take away, to lift up, the burdens of our people, of our faithful and not to put more burdens on them. From this point of view, we apologise for this afternoon session of ours.

Your Excellency Václav Havel, President of the Czech Republic, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, we are particularly pleased for having been afforded the privilege of addressing you in our capacity as the first bishop of the Eastern orthodox Christian church, with a few reflections on the subject of globalisation and its religious aspects. We express our warm thanks to those who have invited us to this podium, and we extend to all the distinguished participants our courteous salutation, and heartfelt blessing.

The breaking up and fragmentation of human society worldwide has as its foundation and starting point man's narcissistic, egocentric, and individualistic attitude, which is expressed in the tendency to invade, to discriminate, to appropriate and control everything. This self - centred attitude includes excessive pride, a demonstration of force contesting the superior position of God and the equality of man. As well as man's desire to become God by shutting out the true God, and ruling over his fellow human beings, thus supplanting God's "supposed"authority over man.

We said "supposed"because the real relationship of God to man is not one of a lord over his servant, or master to his subject;it is the relationship of a loving father to his beloved son or daughter. It is a relationship that has the potential to develop even further to that of one friend to another: such a relationship is the perfect example of what human relationships should be. Unfortunately, however, what is symptomatic of Cain, who killed his brother out of jealousy, is still circulating, like a deadly virus infecting humanity.

Of course, many people quarrel over who has the exclusivity to be the sole masters of the world and the only recipients of God's favour. Thus, it is out of necessity that one's authority is limited to that section of the earth where the possibilities open to him or her can be exercised, and where all groups gather around these leaders. At first, they appear as tribes and clans, and later turn into nations and peoples. Thus today, in place of isolated egocentric individuals, there were tribes, herdsmen and leaders of small groups in general, and then whole populations that crept on to the scene. The same - although in this case collective - egocentric spirit drives these populations. As a result, the struggle referred to in history between leaders who prevail has been transformed into a rivalry among peoples who prevail, and already groups of peoples have been drawn closer together into greater unions. The question of disputation is whether the goal and the purpose of these rival groups is, as we all know, the domination of the world.

Of course, the desire for world sovereignty existed in earlier times, but the possibilities of the most powerful rulers were not enough to dominate the whole world. Therefore, as we said above, they concentrated on exercising authority over sections of the tormented planet earth - albeit as large a section as possible, but nevertheless limited to only a part of the world.

Things have changed. Man's supervision of the whole world through the technology of satellites is nothing unusual, and man's travelling from one point of the earth to the other by plane in a matter of a few hours has become a daily occurrence. The use of force against those resisting submission by the use of long range missiles launched from the earth, the sea, the air, or satellites -is a fact. So is the catastrophic might of modern military weaponry, especially nuclear arms. Consequently, it appears that the vision of global domination could become a reality.

Nevertheless, it is only natural that those able to accomplish this are few. Most are confined to choosing what is more profitable from among presump - tuous overlords, that is from the one who can offer them more favourable conditions of life. Since the voluntary psychological acceptance of the domi- nation of one over the other or, otherwise stated, the voluntary tacit en- trance into a group of people, whether or not they have been led in by some superpower, can - depending on the case - either help or obstruct the one tr ying to prevail. Naturally, a great ef fort is being made by every presumptu- ous world-ruler to persuade everyone to adhere to the group of people under his own control. Thus, today, we are faced with attempts to prevail world - wide, which lead not only to the recognition of the presumptuous world leader, but also to the cultural assimilation of the way of thinking and living of the overlording people, given the fact that the cultural assimilation makes it easy to adhere to this leaders'aims.

This, of course, is not new. Indeed, in many empires, throughout history one of the sovereign's aims was the incorporation of the subjects to the ruling body, of course to the degree that this action did not contest the authority of the ruling class. All this outlines a well-known reality: selfishness appears to be a source dividing the world, because there are many rival overlords. Yet, at the same time, it is a source of unification in the world by vir tue of the fact that someone has prevailed over another, and has subjugated, or incorporated the others to him. Nevertheless, unification under such circumstances -coming from outside and being imposed - contains the seeds of re-division, since the attitude of egocentric selfishness has not been changed. It has simply been subjected to another selfcentred desire, whether out of necessity or opportunity, and consequently - given the opportunity -it will manifest itself by division again.

In opposition to this image of rivalries, which characterises the real situation, the Orthodox Church sees the unity of the world in the person of Christ. It is a spiritual unity in contrast to that unification which is a single, external fact, even in spite of all the tendencies towards voluntary cultural assimilation. The unity of the human race is naturally accepted and psychologically agreeable to those who subject the egocentric impulse of discrimination and imposition to good reasoning and a higher ethos. The various linguistic, racial, ethnological, religious, and other diversities do not contest the undoubted and evident fact of the con-substantiality of all people. In accepting this, our Christian vision demands a journey in the opposite direction from selfishness.

We are aware that the acceptance of the "Thou"as equal to "I"demands great courage and a higher moral background. Nevertheless, we also know that all the evils of the world come from over - feeding the "I"and, consequently, no one substantial improvement of the things of the world is possible without a loving turning of the "I"into the "Thou". As churchmen and religious leaders, we do not interfere in the rivalry for prevalence among the different powers in the world. We address ourselves to all our fellow men and women, and we proclaim to them a message that is constantly new and revolutionary, even though it has been heard for nearly 2, 000 years. It is the message of love, that is the message of accepting the "Thou"as being equal to the "I", and therefore deserving our attention, interest, care, and affection, independently of whether it belongs to the same group as we do or not.

We certainly do not deceive ourselves that there is universal approval of this message, but on the hand we do not surrender the flag of truth, because just as we know that the "I"resists the acceptance of the "Thou", likewise we know that there is hope - that the hell of Holocausts, of con- centration camps, of genocide, of ethnic cleansing, and of any kind of exploitation of one man by another can be abated. Yet only when the acceptance of the "Thou", of the otherness of the other, the sense of consubstantiality with that other, and common destiny is enlarged and expan-ded. Consequently, it is our duty to constantly reinforce what is good, so as to weaken what is bad, because the more that good prevails, the more the welfare of man and the world increases.

Of course, to those who are animated by the desire to prevail globally, these things sound like impractical, ideological notions, since they see prevalence as only the result of force and imposition. Yet a deeper examination can persuade people that taking this road is the least costly, the most effective, and the steadiest method, even when tr ying to achieve this goal. Let me explain. We said earlier that people who find themselves before the unavoidable obligation of choosing a certain overlord stop to think who can provide them with opportunities for a better life. Yet a better life is not only financial, but also moral, hence the more freedom of conscience, faith, worship and cultural diversity provided by the presumptuous overlord, the easier it will be for future subjects to follow in his footsteps.

As far as religious faith is concerned, the only acceptable way is the recognition of religious toleration. We are taught by history that the violent imposition of religious faith has not produced significant results. For centuries, the first Christians were persecuted, but those who gave in before being tortured were outnumbered by the faithful.

Most likely those who struggle for prevalence are in a state of self-deception and have not understood the impasse of their hatred, which is directed by their egocentrism and not by the freedom and the grace of love. Of course, most people, although not completely free of their love for themselves, understand the impasse of this unceasing struggle for prevalence. Often they have proclaimed in official statements the equality of all men and women, the toleration of religion, respect for the dignity of the human person, the freedom of conscience and self - determination, and many other beautiful and noble principles. However, often in practice - unfortunately all too often - these principles are violated, yet humankind holds these principles as its own property and valuable treasure, and it should call itself back to the right road each time it has deviated from them.

We are already standing before the danger of a significant deviation in the history of the world, because - although we all accept global society, the family of all humankind - as something worthy, in which everyone will be able to develop freely their own personality, some people may still be tempted to attempt to exploit others. By this, we mainly refer to ideological prevalence, both cultural and totalitarian, which is worse than political servitude.

Ideological totalitarianism is expressed today, for the most part, by religionbased, fundamentalist movements, whose followers consider it their duty to globally impose the religious faith from which they usually derive. Of course, it is right for each faithful individual to profess that he or she finds the fullness of truth within his or her faith. Nonetheless, it is not right to refuse others the freedom to have a different understanding and faith. In expressing the faith of the Orthodox Church, we accept the dimension of the universality of the human race, namely the unity of humankind in God, and the acceptance of the diversity of others as the foundation of love, which is the very being of God. Globalisation - being a human activity towards unity - should not conceal any ideological or religious totalitarianism.

Concerning other aspects of globalisation, we expressed some thoughts on another occasion. It was in Davos last February. In bringing our discourse to an end, we feel that we owe a clarification. The unity of humankind will not come through the mixing of religions and the creation of a new man - made universal religion, which would be an amalgamation of metaphysical faiths and moral principles from various religious origins. If religion bears a true relation to God, as it should, and is not just a man - made creation, and if God is a personal entity, as we believe and know by experience that he truly is, then every human idea regarding religion as conceived by the human will is destined to collapse. Even if this man - made religion manages to survive, it will be a delusion, for which there is no worthy reason to work. Our positive vision as religious leaders is, and always will be, the recognition by all people of the uniting force of love.

Thank you for your attention.

Martin Putna
Thank you very much, your All Holiness, for your words. Now, the second speaker to the East comes from the Islamic world. Mr al - Khoei says about himself: I am neither a philosopher nor a theologian, I am only a layman. Please.

Yousif al-Khoei
Thank you. Mr President, Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Allow me to thank you for your very kind hospitality in Prague and for the opportunity to speak on the process of world integration from a Muslim view.

Islam, a religion that had a humble beginning in seventh-century Arabia, has emerged as a major world civilisation and a global reality. Throughout its history, Islam has made significant contributions to the development of science, philosophy and culture in many parts of the world. Today, Muslim populations can be found across the face of the globe, with sizeable minorities as far afield as China, Australia, Southern Africa, the Americas, and Europe.

The roots of Islam lie in the Holy Koran which, when revealed in Arabic to the Arab prophet Mohammed, addressed all of humanity symbolised in the person of Adam. The Holy Koran is replete with examples of the universal scope of the message of Islam. Distilled from the Koran are the core tenets and teachings of the faith: Islam is literally a submission to the will of God, it is preached that God is one, that he is merciful and compassionate, yet all - powerful and all - seeing. On the day of judgement, every soul that had existed would be judged according to his or her deeds. In emphasising the uniqueness of God, Islam called for the destruction of idols and their worship. Such principles as the unity of God and creation, the obligation of divine justice and equality for humankind, are central to the Islamic world - view. The religious concept of submission to God is accompanied in the Muslim mind with a comprehensive and civilised way of life. Alongside these stand significant guidelines for the social organisation of the community of believers. These include an emphasis on social justice, solidarity, the centrality of the family and the elevation and protection of women.

The Islamic message was also revolutionary in many other contexts. It introduced the concept of shariah, which means consensus in governance: it regulated the conduct of war, it banned the animalistic practice of burying new - born daughters and fought for the abolition of slavery. The Koran also regulates such matters as marriage, divorce and inheritance, and recognises and regulates conduct with other monotheistic religions, notably Judaism and Christianity.

Whilst Islam sets forth a religious faith with defined rituals that it prescribes, at the same time it establishes guidelines for the order of society - ranging from civil to criminal law and from modes of dress to details of diet. There are specific Islamic customs relating to weddings, funerals, naming a child and so on, though the details vary from country to country, culture to culture. Islamic civilisation is an assimilative civilisation that adopts, integrates and incorporates aspects of other traditions and cultures. Islam also lays great stress on the behaviour of being a practising member within the community. While derived ultimately from the Koran, Islamic directives are developed and elaborated according to the needs of the community in a particular time and space. This lends Islamic teachings a richness and flexibility, which can form the basis of a valuable contribution to the shaping of global society and the world arena on the threshold of the new millennium.

It also makes possible an embracing of pluralism in all aspects of life and can provide a basis for constructive dialogue with other faiths and societies. Historically, Islam's spirit of tolerance, and in particular its positive interaction with Judaism and Christianity, was reflected in the protection of minorities. Islamic Spain provided a unique example of the fruitful co - operation of these three monotheistic faiths. Islam, which maintains that it is a combination of the Abrahamic religious tradition, accepted the veneration of both Moses and Jesus, regarding them as holy messengers of the one God. There is no notion of a superior claim or exclusivity in terms of God's favours to humanity, nor is there any belief in vicarious atonement, the emphasis being on individual responsibility and communal duty. Islam, Judaism and Christianity share similar views on life and ethics. For example, all view mankind and creation as part of a unified whole: they believe in Satan; in good over evil;in heaven and hell; and they also believe in Adam and Eve, although Muslims disagree with the notion of there being an original sin.

To return to the issue of the forthcoming millennium and the challenge of creating an integrated world vision, there are specific areas in the human experience where Islam can offer positive guidance and spiritual resources.

The world is dominated by consumerism and the consequent environmental degradation. Islam offers an alternative vision of balance between consumption, development and respect for our God - given natural environment, which is seen as a trust given by God to humankind to enjoy and protect. In a conflict - ridden world, the true spirit of Islam rejects aggression and offers practical guidelines for peace and for the resolution of conflict, successful co - existence, based on the rule of law and respect for legal treaties and agreements. In a world increasingly plagued by social fragmentation, materialism and psychological dislocation, Islam offers a simple and realistic out - look based upon profound spirituality, without which no vision of the millennium can be considered truly reflective of the human condition.

Thank you very much.

Martin Putna
Thank you very much, Mr al - Khoei. The third world religion to the East is Hinduism, and the programme committee asked Mr Karan Singh from India for a Hindu point of view. The participants of last year's Forum 2000 will certainly remember Mr Singh, an Indian politician, philosopher and inspiring speaker. Unfortunately, Mr Singh could not come today but he has kindly written his contribution reflecting on Hindu experience and the Hindu vision for the future. That is why Mr Singh will be here only by means of his text, which will be read by Divvya Rajagopalan, a member of the students' Forum 2000. India, the country where according to ancient European mythology paradise is located, is incarnated in this hall today by Divvya Rajagopalan. Please.

Karan Singh (read by Divvya Rajagopalan)
Thank you so much. "The Hindu Vision" by Dr Karan Singh.

Each of the world's great religions has a distinctive view of the origins, destinations and final goal of humanity as also on the nature of the divine - whether it is called God or by many other names. Being the oldest continuing religion in the world, Hinduism has some special features, which need to be briefly pointed out for a better understanding of the Hindu vision.

Firstly, Hinduism does not trace its teachings back to any single person, text or point in time' rather it is based upon the collective insights of a whole galaxy of realised beings, known as the rishis, and finds its apogee in the remarkable texts known as the Upanishads, which are dialogues between various sages and their disciples, and contain some of the most sublime philosophical statements to be found anywhere in world religious literature. This being so, there is within Hinduism a unique capacity for interpretation from age to age and for absorbing many ideas and concepts to enrich its tradition. In sharp contradiction to the Semitic religions, which go back to single texts, prophets and Gods, Hinduism incorporates multiple paths of the divine.

This being so, there is within Hinduism a unique capacity for creative interpretation from age to age, and for absorbing many ideas and concepts toenrich its tradition. In sharp contradiction to the Semitic religions, which go back to single texts, prophets and Gods, Hinduism incorporates multiple paths of the divine. It believes that the entire universe, not only the tiny speck of dust that we call planet Earth, but the billions upon billions of galaxies in the boundless universe around us are all permeated by the divine. It also believes that the divine spark exists in all beings, particularly in human beings who have reached a stage in evolution where they can work positively for union with the divine. Fanning the divine spark within us into the blazing fire of spiritual realisation, that is for Hindus the supreme goal of life on earth. This joining of the God transcendent (brahman) with God Immanent (atman) is what is known as yoga, a word which in fact comes from the same root as the English word yoke, to join.

Yoga is a complex and profound system, by no means confined to the physical exercises by which it is generally known around the world. There are four main parts to yoga: the Jhana Yoga - the way of wisdom; the Bhakti Yoga - the way of devotion;the Karma Yoga - the way of works dedicated to the divine; and the Raja Yoga - the way of spiritual practices.

Each one of these has parallels in Western tradition, but it is not possible here to enter more deeply into this fascinating field. n the Hindus, therefore, the major goal of life is to transcend the cycle of birth and death and reach the stage where one is in direct communion with the divine, and perhaps even merge with it.

Along with this, however, there is a second goal, which involves the welfare of society. Here, Hinduism has several clear formulations. Firstly, there is a deep reverence for life, including the natural environment, and an awareness that the great forces of nature - the earth, the sky, the air, water and fire - as well as various orders of life, including plants and trees, forests and animals, are all bound to each other within the great rhythms of nature. There is a clear realisation that if nature is destroyed, humanity itself will be in grave danger - a possibility that the ruthless exploitation of nature in this century threatens to make a reality. The ancient Hindu dictum "the earth is our mother and we are all her children"represents the basis for a new eco - friendly vision for the future.

Secondly, Hinduism is strongly in favour of inter - faith dialogue, harmony and understanding. Not being a proselytising religion and not claiming any monopoly in the field of spiritual growth, Hinduism is happy to co - operate with other religions of the world in building a harmonious society for the future. The inter - faith movement, which is now beginning to grow around the world, thus represents an area in which Hinduism, with its pluralistic and multi - faceted background, can play a very positive role. It is quite clear that the religious fanaticism, fundamentalism and violence that have disfigured history down through the long and torturous corridors of time are still active in many parts of the world and continue to pose a major threat to peace and tranquillity. Any vision of the future must therefore involve a strong inter - faith movement that cuts across religious, ethnic, linguistic and geographical barriers.

The third area in which the Hindu vision of the future can be of special significance is gender equality. For Hindus, the concept that God has to necessarily be male is patently unacceptable. Indeed, in the Hindu tradition the feminine principle in the form of the Goddess is invariably wor- shipped along with the deity and also occupies an independent space in the Hindu pantheon and psyche. This view, when related to human society, can help us to outgrow the crude sexism of the past that relegates women to an inferior position and reassert the fact that all human beings, regardless of their race or religion, nationality or gender, must enjoy equal rights and responsibilities in the emerging global society.

These are only three areas where the Hindu vision can help in structuring a sane, harmonious and equitable global society in the next millennium.

Let me end by congratulating President Havel for his continuing initiative through Forum 2000. I had the privilege of attending last year's conference and look forward to taking part in future meetings. This important initiative underscores the urgent need as we near the end of the present century - so full of achievement, yet so lethal and so destructive - to rediscover those moral and spiritual concepts which alone can ensure the welfare of humanity in the existing and unknown challenges that confront us.

Thank you.

Martin Putna
On behalf of all of you, I thank Mr Singh in India and Divvya Rajagopalan here. From India we are now travelling further in our minds to the East, to Japan. In terms of the history of religions, Japan acknowledges the co - existence of many different religious traditions: Buddhism, Taoism and so on. This co - existence takes place not only in the same territory, but even in the practical life of the same human being. Concerning this extraordinary plurality of religious life in Japan, we find it opportune that we have on this panel two delegates from Japan representing the modern and the traditional face of this country. The first of them is a Professor of Religion and Anthropology in Chuo University, Mr Shinichi Nakazawa. Mr Nakazawa, the floor is yours.

Shinichi Nakazawa
I respect all religions and I respect all holy men, but I do not belong to any system of religion. I studied and practised Tibetan Buddhism for many years, so it is possible to call me a Tibetan Buddhist, but my Tibetan lama teaches me that you should not subscribe to any creed, any system or any religion; the most important thing is the naturalness of the mind, so stand in a completely free position. I want to explain the freeness and the fluidity of Japanese spirituality; however, this is very difficult to explain, so I think that it is better to explain my own biography.

I was born into a Christian family;it is not common in the case of Japan. My great - grandfather converted to Christianity over 100 years ago. Before that, he was a sincere believer in Buddhism. So, I was born into a Christian family but unfortunately my father was a Communist. Fortunately, he was soon ex - communicated from the party and, after ex - communicating from the party, he turned to a more Japanese traditional religion - Shintoism, the most primitive form of Japanese religion. He became a researcher of Japanese folklore, and I helped him with his research. So, I travelled to very small places in Japan, and I tuned into the feelings of the Japanese peasant, the beliefs of the common people. So, I am a Shintoist Buddhist, not a Communist. understand both Buddhism and Christianity. After that, at university studied religious studies and decided to go to Tibet to study Tibetan Buddhism.

My case is typical for young Japanese generations: they are open to the system of religion, they belong to any religions, and they try to pick up the common elements of these religions. So my case is not exceptional. Most Japanese can fully understand, for example, the feelings of native Americans and Australian aborigines. Recently, many religious thinkers among the native Americans and Australian aborigines came to Japan to have a conference with the common people. The Japanese common people can easily understand the thinking of the native Americans and Australian aborigines because they preserve their primitiveness and also ancient religious thinking, maybe to the pre - historic period.

At the same time, they develop Buddhist systems, they study hard and understand the teachings of Buddhism. Some try to understand Christianity and, indeed, many succeed in understanding Christian religion. T heir naturalness of mind is the base for the understanding of religious sys- tems, and thus many people say that the Japanese are very tolerant of religious differences. But in the core of the Japanese mind, they are not faithful to any one religious system, but instead tr y to pick up the religious teachings of many religions. From cradle to tomb is a common saying, but my Tibetan teacher told me that the most important time is before the cradle and after the tomb, so I think that it is possible to think before religion and after religion. The modern Japanese attitude to the 21st century's religion is to include in the study an understanding of religion before religion and after the systems of religion.

Thank you very much.

Martin Putna
Thank you, Mr Nakazawa. It seems you have much in common with, and much experience of, my country. Now, I would like to ask Mr Kakuhan Enami for his speech. Mr Kakuhan Enami is a representative of His Holiness the Patriarch of the Tendai Buddhist denomination, and the Abbot of the Enryaku - ji monastery.

Kakuhan Enami
First of all, I should like to show my deep gratitude to Mr. president Havel and all the organisers of Forum 2000 for having invited this year already for the second time His Holiness Eshin Watanabe, patriarch of the Buddhist School Tendai, to Prague to partake in this prestigeous conference, and that representatives of the School Tendai can take avail again this precious opportunity to meet in this forum people from all manner of worlds and to speak here on behalf of Buddhists. Unfortunately, His Holiness cannot, in view of urgent matters, take part in person and he, therefore, sent me, Enami Kakuhan, as his envoy.

Dengyó daishi (767 - 823), the founder of the spiritual centre on the Hiei Mountain, used for the multiform Buddha teaching the following simile: "If you have a net that consists in one single mesh, you certainly will not catch a bird. "By this simile, he wanted to stress that the spirit of generous tolerance is an integral part of the Buddha creed.

Buddhism was officially introduced to Japan in 552 after Christ. Already 52 years thereafter, in 604, the dauphin Shótoku, at the time the Empire Regent, was drafting the first Japanese constitution, the so - called Seventeen - Articles Constitution, which is totally imbued with the spirit of the creed. The first article of the Constitution says that "it is requisite to honour harmony", the second invites subjects to sincerely honour the Three Jewels of Buddhism - Buddha, Law and the Monks Community.

Half a century later (in about 754), a number of commentaries and other secondary literature that relates to the so - called Lotus Sútra (Sadharma pundaríka sútra), one of the most influential canon books of south - eastern Buddhism and also one of the roots of the teaching of the Great Master Dengyó daishi, reached Japan. But at that time, the interest to discover the true meaning of the writings was only superficial.

The then - scholastic Buddhism was closer to the hínayan movement (the so - called small carriage - movement in Buddhism, which focused on individual salvation) had not yet been imbued with the atmosphere of maháyan creed (the so - called big carriage), which is characteristic of books and sermons of Dengyó daishi. His endeavour was that the possibility of salvation be not limited only to privileged individuals, but that it be open to any man. The writings, in which the treasure of the "lotus carriage for everybody" (hokke itchidjó), the most important element of the creed of Dengyó daishi, was hidden, lay as yet, at the outset of the eighth century, dormant eluding understanding due to the superficial interest of the Nar prelates.

At that time the twelve - years old Dengyó daishi went homeless (i. e. took the cowel), when he was nineteen, he withdrew to reclusion on the Hiei Mountain. There he also wrote his Oath (Ganmon). For the people, who found the spirit of maháyána alien, this book remained incomprehensible forever. By this book, concurrently the period of the Master ´s study of the Lotus Sútra and the search for its deep meaning began.

The five principles that Dengyó daishi set himself in this book are:
1.Unless I do not set seal on my true self by ascetic practice, I do not have the right to preach to the others.
2.Unless I attain awakening, the sole interest of my soul will be practice.
3.Unless I learn to live a monk ´s life in righteousness in the spirit of the commandments and bans, I do not have the right to appoint and teach my successors.
4.Unless I acquire the ability of clear discernment, I will not meddle in wordly affairs.
5.So long as I am endowed with life, I want, in all the righteousness that may acquire by practice, to give up everything to the benefit of the others, so that they all enter the Empire of Awakening together, hand in hand.
The oath is a kind of a comprehensive promise that complements all the previous promises: "I humbly promise that I will not taste the beverage of redemption nor the fruit of repose only for my own benefit. Even if my true self was perfectly completed, I will not be satisfied. Until all the people on Earth attain happiness, I want to continue to serve them, I want to find a way how to transfer this world to a world of true repose. "This oath can boldly be proclaimed the embodiment of the spirit of the Lotus Sútra.
The young Denyó deishi continued to adhere to the very strict perception of his own self. "Amongst thick - heads the biggest, amongst fools the big - gest is he, whose upper part betrays Buddha ´s way, his middle part turns away from the path of righteous rulers, his lower part contemns righteous morality of the elders. The only thing, which my stray heart is capable of is to set on some fatuous promises. "After this telling self - denial, there follows the determination to adhere to the principle: "The only thing that a man can do for himself is to serve the others. "In the subsequent centuries this thought of Dengyó daishi significantly influenced not only the fur - ther direction of Japanese Buddhism, but also Japanese thinking as such and all the aspects of Japanese culture.
Lets us now drop a few words about the "Lotus Sútra of the Magic Law", which is verbatim translation of the whole book considered to be the cornerstone of Dengyó thinking - in Japanese, the title is "Myó - hó renge - kyó". The first symbol "Myó"means uncomprehensible or wraithed in mystery, the second symbol "hó"or Law contains all the beings that exist in this world, all the phenomena and their inter - linkage. "Renge"or lotus is a remarkable plant that grows from the dark mud of swamp, whilst carr ying at the top a pure and undefiled, dazzling white flower. This is a simile: in spite of the fact that this world is as muddy as a swamp, it is possible for it to give bir th to man, who is able to cause pure and undefiled flower to come to bloom. The last symbol in the title, "kyó"or Sútra, is in the Buddhist context a designation for a collection of Buddha´s statements. In The Lotus Sútra, as the book is normally referred to, the creed is preached that what any man clings to, can be overcome and that all and sundry can make the nature of Buddha present in their self. It is proverbial that all the ways leading to insight are, in fact, one way - verbatim that all the three "carriages"are indeed tantamount to one carriage. The interpretation of this theory is divided into three areas: Law, Simile and Treatise on causuality. To the people, the roots of clinging of whom are shallow, the content of Buddha ´s insight is presented outright, to the people with middle - deep roots the creed is presented in the form of a simile, the people, who have very deep roots are guided on their way by means of the treatise on the causes of clinging. Thanks to this, the sole carriage - the sole form of teaching - can bring insight both to shrávaks (listening) as well as pratyékabuddhas (buddhas solitaries) and to bódhisattvas (saints on the verge of insight). The core of the creed of the Lotus Sútra is the theory of dependent inception (no being is contained in itself, all of them are by their intrinsic nature inter - linked).
The Lotus Sútra consists in 28 chapters, amongst which there is a passage explicitly dealing with the practice that leads man to the insight of truth and to the transformation into Buddha. In the twelfth book of the Lotus Sútra, called Dévadatta, it says that it is possible to attain insight by the practice of self - sacrifice, when the disciple devotes to his teacher his entire self: Car - ries water for him, hoes vegetables and cooks, etc. - this is why this practice is called "saika kyúsui"(grow vegetables and pump water).

In the twentieth book, ascribed to the Bódhisattva Djófukyó, it says that pious reverence should be paid to all human beings, as all of them will soon become Buddhas. However big the tribulations, there is no other way and insight is the final aim for everybody.

In the twentieth book, called Universal teaching of bódhisattva Avalókiéshvara, it says that the merciful bódhisattva embodies in thir ty three different manners to preach the Law. The number thirty three is admittedly symbolic, it says even that bódhisattva takes the appearance of herbs, trees and even rays of sunshine. Here exactly lies the root of the thought that so strongly affected the entire body of Japanese thinking: namely that mountains, rivers, plants and trees have all the Buddha essence to them.

The Buddhist teaching of Dengyó daishi is immensely comprehensive - apart from the above - mentioned Lotus Sútra, zen (the meditation component), the esoteric teaching (mysticism)and vináya (classic monks ´discipline)had been included in it. This is why his teaching is usually called "En - micu - zen - kai"or the summary of the lotus teaching of mysticism, meditation and discipline.

This immensely many-sided concept of Buddhism became soon pre-eminent in Japan and exactly on its basis there emerged, beginning from the 11th century, from the spiritual breed on the Hiei mountain, founders of individual new schools of Japanese Buddhism with their specific focuses on individual aspects of the many - sided teaching. That is why the Hiei Mountain is usually called "the mother of Japanese Buddhism". It will probably not be the best conceivable example, but a certain analogy may be perceived in the fact that contemporary Japanese cuisine applies Chinese, French, Indian, Southern - American as well as all kind of regional Japanese recipes. So one can say that it is not only the monks, who understand the many - sidedness of the world as a matter of course, but also necessary fact - exactly like Dengyó daishi taught them.

In the religious sphere, one of the most supreme examples is the spiritual syntheses, the so - called "shin - butsu - shugó"or the shintoistic - buddhist synthesis, which comes down for a number of centuries, and in the midst of which there are the deep links between the creed of the school Tendai and the Hachiman cult.

Amongst the verses of the Buddhist canon that are frequently cited is also the sentence "Shoaku makuse, shuzen bugyó"(beware of all evil and do only righteous acts). By evil admittedly killing or theft are meant in the first place, by righteous acts charitable gifts (without awaiting re - ward), compliance with the Law and so forth. By the forbidden killing not only doing away with a human being is understood, but also with any other living creature. If we come to develop this thought further, we reach the comprehension that also stones, water and all the other forms of existence around us are endowed with the life to be respected. This is why it is said that "phenomena are embodiment of Law", that they are manifestations of Buddha. It is said that all this is Buddha, which shows in the form of many - form existence and in individual beings.

The awareness that the noble mountain that I climb is in itself godly, gave rise to the practice of purification of the six roots of consciousness (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind)during the climb to the top of the mountain. The climbing to the holy place requires purified mind and body.

The Chinese poet So - sh ´(1036-1101)writes: "The voice of the river speaks with a mighty Tongue, the crystal slopes of mountains are the noble Body". Most certainly, the poet had meant that the voice of the quick river in the valley in itself preaches the Law of Buddha and maybe that the mountains on the horizon are the body of the Buddha himself.

In this context, even the fact does not seem strange that was once mentioned by Yasuhiro Nakasone, the then prime minister of Japan, an European session of G7: "Part of the prayer for a successful new ear in Japanese manufacturing plants usually is that the factory robots are given a gift of a plate of sake for health. "This phenomenon is in fact nothing else but an application of the Buddhist principle that life is a concomitant feature of all the beings in this world.

When we then turn our sight to the world of the phenomena, we can observe that in all the walks of life of the human society - politics, economics, culture and religion - globalisation is all the time advancing and it fosters a number of problems. The scientific - cultural progress and economic expansion have brought to man a number of blessings, but the other side of the coin is the destruction of the environment thus putting the very existence of humanity in jeopardy. But at the same time the proverbial scissors open between the countries of the developed and the developing world and the situation is still far away from the coveted ideal. Also the disputes and armed conflicts between states and nations have not disappeared. And one does not have to emphasise twice that a number of differences in opinion and gaps do exist even between individual beliefs and religious denominations.

If I were to attempt to summarise the teaching of Dengyó daishi in the contemporaneous language, it would quite likely be something like "Let us mutually respect all the many - form manifestations of the spirit, let us respect the right to existence. "Or else: "Let us realise that the Buddha nature is concomitant to any being, and that we, people, are only one part of the universe. "

Martin Putna
Thank you very much, Mr Kakuhan Enami. I hope that there are really many. Now, travelling further and further to the East, we are coming to the West, back to Europe. We will hear the voice of Judaism, a religion which is present in the whole world and which lives in a milieu of diverse cultures and religions. Globalisation is therefore for Judaism an old, well - known thing. The voice of Judaism will sound in the words of Rabbi Albert Friedlander, Dean of the Leo Baeck College in London. We look forward to your speech.

Albert Friedlander
Thank you. Beloved President, sacred Patriarch, colleagues.
Had the chairman chosen the second of two roads - in other words, time instead of space - I might have arrived here earlier, but I would have been deprived of the privilege of batting clean up - and still, in some ways, I feel like Atlas carrying the whole world of religions upon my shoulders.

How can I both speak for Judaism and in effect summarise. Look at my colleagues from whom I have learnt so much in these past moments. As our revered Patriarch pointed out, religions must not flow into one another and become an amalgam;they must preserve their integrity. And, indeed, if it is the function of religion to preserve the integrity of the individual, how close can we actually get to each other?

Late last night, Professor Ashis Nandy pointed out to me that closeness can be as destructive as distance, even ignorant distance, and then he robbed me of sleep for the night by relating it to the Jewish community in Germany - so that perhaps part of the anguish and suffering of that time came from that closeness, where Germans felt that they did not want the influence of Jews in culture, literature, politics etc. to speak for the true German, that hidden resentments were building up over the decades. I am not sure whether he was right.

I do know that as a child in Berlin hiding from the Nazis I became a Jew and a Rabbi. I could not accept what they said about me, about us, as a minority group, as being inferior, and so I posited that I had to become superior, and the most superior way possible was to be a super Rabbi, as it were. No voice from God, simply the decision that in my tradition could find myself - my identity - and this has carried me through life, through many different situations.

I am sorr y that mine is a rather quiet, soft voice, which at the end of a long conference can easily induce sleep. Actually, last Saturday preached on the Torah portion of Cain and Able - to which the Patriarch has already referred - and I noticed that my President was once again asleep. Afterwards, I approached him and said: "Max, why do you always sleep in my sermons? " And he said: "Rabbi, I trust you."

This said, I have really learnt so much from you that I feel I can cut out portions of the talk I had written with the knowledge that, first of all, you will be happier and, second, it can always be found later, I trust, on the tables. You can see for yourself what has been skipped, and perhaps how much more has been added, because one thing that I have learnt during our time together this session is that it is not religion that has a monopoly on ethics. Although we must say, particularly in our time, that it is now time for religion to reassert authority in an area where so much has become shadowy and it is no longer the strength that it was in terms of ethical actions.

I do not believe in a concordat between religions and the state. I do know that religion has to work together with the secular person, and that in secularity too, there are visions in terms of creating a better world.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw in The Times a statement by Oscar Arias, Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel and Betty Williams, who pointed to the hypocrisy of a code that does not make public, in advance, the details of arms sales and does not accept moral responsibility for the silent victims of their trade. As they said: "Real and lasting change will only be realised when ordinary citizens come together and demand that the trade in human misery be stopped. There is no excuse for delay. The poor and oppressed cannot afford to wait. Europe must act responsibly, and must act now. "(The Times , September 21, page 21)

And this is what our religions talk about. Recently, in a broadcast in Germany, I was in Weimar and Antje Vollmer was in Bonn, and we talked about voting on a Holocaust Memorial in Berlin - and I found expressed there through political intelligence an awareness of moral issues. I found that Antje's voice was stronger than many of the religious leaders I had been listening to. It is possible and necessary to do something there. Indeed, as I said then, the Bundestag - the German government - had to place the mark of Cain on its forehead: it was not for us to tell them what to do.

And why? Because in the Bible, you read and know well that the mark of Cain is not a punishment, but at the end a protection for Cain to continue to exist in the world - to move through it, to regain through his children the role of a contributor to this society even though the darkest aspect of him cannot be forgotten. Perhaps that too is part of what religion has to remind us of these days. If we look at the individual, and we look at society, we can see the darkness within ourselves, the evil that is part of us all. We are Cain in our own way, and religion can and must help us to cope not only with that guilt, but far more with responsibility.

What does religion do? What does Judaism do? I think we are equal here. Religion stores memories. You may argue that this is the task of the historian and I can gainsay this although, according to what I have written, history is what scholars write in their textbooks. That is, you find it in the books, it is not part of reality, it does not apply to the world as we see it around us. And even philosophy - which tends to place things into nice shapes that can be stored away in their proper boxes - does not help us that much.

I did have a quote from the theologian, Jean Baptist Metz, but it is Nietzsche and Heidegger. He makes the point that at the end of time we discover the name of God, and he speaks about the cultural amnesia of our time in which our encounter with God is displaced through mythologies. We had comments about coming back to Greek thoughts and Greek teachings of identity - Aristo - tle was important there - but I tend to think more about Ajax and his prayer, when he in effect accepts the fate that is upon him. He does not plead for help but in effect - if you pardon me - Ajax says in his prayer "To hell with you Gods, I'll be myself, I'll go my way". And that is the part of the verse where we wander through the torn landscape of Kosovo and East Timor: we have to see the reality and then perhaps through religion we can gain insight. They are visions given by the religious task, and when I was a Rabbi in East Hampton, I lived next door to Paul Johannes Tillich and we talked about the many Gods of space and the one God of time whom we find in the Bible. But, in a time of cultural amnesia, theology may well forget the dialogue with the divine: we tend to replace God with ourselves, more is the pity. But, this is why we are here as religious teachers. To help us enter into the year 2000, the religious vision must be present but we must see no monopoly on ethics.

A congregant of mine, who lives in New York, Thomas Friedman, of The Times recently wrote a primer to globalisation in his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree . Driven by our aspirations for higher standards of living and by enormously powerful technologies, we are integrated into a society where the icons are the Lexus and the Olive Tree. He visited the Lexus factory in Japan, and decided that here was an icon which "represents all those who are intent on building a better Lexus, dedicated to modernising, streamlining and privatising their economies in order to thrive in the system of globalisation. The olive tree, on the other hand, represents everything that roots us, anchors us, identifies us and locates us in this world - whether it be belonging to a family, a community, a tribe, a nation, a religion, or most of all a place called home."

He does not ask us to choose one icon over the other. He points out that globalisation - the Lexus image - empowers us that it can humanise. But the olive tree leads us back into tradition: we know that we need our memories. We know that we need new technology even in religion. I wrote this on my iMac: the mistakes are mine not the machine's, but religious structures are also imperfect: they crash as much as our computers. But, in times of darkness, religious structure gives us memories of what human beings can be and will be - children of God - and this links us together. Our various religions remain separate, discrete, but they travel along on the same road, which leads to God. If there is an infinity between God and us, we all start on the same level, but again if God is as immediate as the soul within us then we are also always there at the same time. Let me vindicate the fact that I was asked to speak in terms of religion, turn to Judaism, turn to the prophets of srael, as Margarete Susman wrote: "The challenge to the world came through the dimension of truth in the prophetic vision of the messianic time of peace. In their message of peace, prophecy touched upon the deepest, most passionate, and most painful dream within the human heart. Passing through the darkest and most confused moments of human life, it breaks forth into light."

It may be as our speakers told us this morning: prophets always die, but so do we all. Let me quote from Micah (Chapter 4). Actually Isaiah and Micah have the same text:
"It shall come to pass in the end of days,
That the mountain of the House of the LORD
Shall be established as the top of the mountains.
And people shall flow unto it.
And many nations shall come and say:
'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That he may teach us his ways,
And we may walk in his paths. '
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
And shall decide for mighty nations afar off.
And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares
And their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war any more.
But they shall sit, every one under their vine and fig tree
And none shall make them afraid.
For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.
For all the people walk each in the name of their God.
But we shall walk in the name of the LORD our God
For ever and ever. "
You note here that I quote the Micah text with its ending, where ALL people ascend the holy mountain in their own faith which leads to the One God;and surely their vision of peace is the same as that proclaimed by the prophets of Israel.

There are so many religious visions to be shared, but one surely has a respect for others. It is particularly wrong for a rabbi to "hog"time, to keep you here longer and prevent discourse from taking place. We know that we learn from each other, from a shared faith. We know also that we discover the inner darkness within ourselves, within humanity, and that religion can help us not destroy it, not end it, but cope with it. We will not achieve perfection, we will not even in the millennium get to that perfect state, to that messianic time when the world will be surrounded only by love and brotherand sisterhood. But perhaps close to the millennium we can remind our - selves of that religious vision.

I thank you.

Martin Putna
Thank you very much, Mr Friedlander. Our spiritual journey around the world to the light is about to reach its end. We are back here in Central Europe: the last speaker is Ditta Dolejšiová, the delegate of the Students'Forum 2000 from Slovakia. Please.

Ditta Dolejšiová

Mr President, Your Royal Highness, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends. First of all, let me express my deepest respect and thanks. Allow me to share in your thoughts and visions with the voice of the young people that I represent.

Having heard all these various speeches from the different religions dominating today's world, I would like to talk about religion and its role in general. Primarily, it is its role in education that is extremely important and also concerns - with a few exceptions - all young people. Secondly, I would like to talk about the relationship between youth and religion, about the link that may be established between a person and a teacher of belief.

We can define education on at least three different levels: the background education given by a family and its traditions;the formal education given in most cases, freely by the state;and the informal education assured by different associations and the non - governmental sector.

The education given by the family is naturally the strongest one: who else can teach and influence more than parents? Children inherit their hopes and beliefs as well as their bad habits and prejudices. Here lie the roots of many misinterpretations, followed by an irrational and unreasonable hate. In such cases, these thoughts have to be questioned somewhere else - formal education should act as the first place - and I wonder why it is not happening. Why do we have obligatory courses about civil education and not about inter - cultural learning? Why do we have obligatory lectures about religion, which consist mainly of the ONE religion and that in many cases question history and beliefs, yet do not allow space to lead an inter - religious dialogue. I think the state should provide more than a lecture where one is talking and the others are listening. In such classes, the teacher should just play the role of a medium through which the young may express their feelings and thoughts.

This role also has to be reinforced by informal education and ensured by different associations, non - governmental organisations and unions which provide a large public and mainly specific groups with this alternative means of education. In this context, youth movements - like the Slovak Union of Jewish Youth at the regional and local level, and the Asian Baha'i youth organisation or the World Union of Young Muslims at the international level - play a crucial role in religious education, especially in establishing links between youth and their respective religions.

This form of education is not always acceptable and therefore accessible to everybody. Not everybody likes to get organised and meet other people through these kinds of communication channels;many young people prefer a more individual and personal approach. These individuals are looking for someone who would have the time and patience to work with them on their spiritual growth.

Here, I would like to come back to what I have called background education where religion belongs as part of tradition - better to say a family tradition. By having some origin, some belief, some faith, young people often turn to a certain search for knowledge, for truth, for God. And do they find answers? Yes, they do, many times they do, because there is somebody who is giving those answers. How easy it is to prescribe what is bad and what is good, and how easy to say that is wrong, but how wrong is it to say: "I don't know"? Yes, many times it is unacceptable to admit that these religious and spiritual leaders do not know whether it is wrong or simply not to their way of thinking. What I wanted to say is that there are certain representatives of religion that are being led by the wrong feeling. Religion has such a strong impact on souls: that is why the education of religion is so delicate and may easily become a very dangerous matter. History shows us that a large majority of conflicts from the last millennia were caused by this misuse, misunderstanding or misinterpretation of religion.

Nevertheless I think religious education has to be taught on the base of the individual relationship between a teacher and a student. Young people should feel themselves as unique in the search for their own path. The spiritual leader should especially teach them how to be strong, how to be free, how to fight prejudices, how to have respect and how to be responsible for their own actions. They should lead them to a free personality, then they can challenge young people to ask the right and important questions and inspire youth to search for the truth.

Finally, I do not want to make any distinction between the orthodox and the secular way of thinking, of belief, of living. Everybody is doing what he or she is capable of, resenting what is important for him or her to resent, and at the end everybody is equal in front of the Lord's door. To end, let me cite from the Bible, the Old Testament, a piece from the proverbs, 2: 15, which in my opinion teaches human beings how to live in peace - in peace with ourselves, with our neighbours, with the earth and the whole universe:
"My son, if you accept my words, and treasures of my commandments, if you make your ear attentive to wisdom, and your mind open to discernment, if you call to understanding and cry aloud to discernment, if you seek it as you do silver, and search for it as for treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and attain the knowledge of God. You will then understand what is right, just, and equal to every good curse, for wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight you, foresight will protect you, and discernment will guard you. So, follow the way of the good and keep the parts of the just, for the upright will inhabit the earth, the blameless will remain in it, while the wicked will vanish from the land, and the traitors will be rooted out of it. "
Thank you.

DISCUSSION

Martin Putna
Thank you, Ditta Dolejšiová. We now have time for discussion if anybody would like to make a contribution, now is your chance. Please.

Petr Lebeda
If I may address this distinguished community of thinkers and religious personalities, I would like to ask you all one simple question to cheer us up and raise our hopes: what, according to your views, your opinions, is the best way globalisation - which we talk about a lot here - can help your work, can spread the messages you are tr ying to spread among your people? Which example shows us that globalisation can work in positive directions? Thank you.

Martin Putna
The question is for all of them? All participants?

Petr Lebeda
Anyone who dares to answer.

Albert Friedlander
I am too old to have been delegated for this. Many thanks. How can globalisation help us? The fact is, of course, that we are already in the midst of it and it is a process. It is developing and I think that it is also a question of how religion can assist this whole process to move along the right path. As I quoted my friend Friedman, it empowers us, it gives us more opportunities to speak: it gives us more opportunities to speak nonsense as well! Given all that goes into the Internet - and that I think is a danger, but also I think it aids in discussions between nations and religions and individual people all over the world. So, if we try to create an ethical dimension that manifests itself in the economic world, where there can be a greater appreciation of the needs of others and where religion can remind societies of their obligations, that is something that can and should happen. Well, if I keep talking, I think I will end up giving a sermon and you want to avoid that! Let it suffice that we are grateful for globalisation and we want you to be grateful to religion as well.

Yousif al-Khoei
Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. Unless there are other responses to the previous question, I would like to support what has just been said. I think one of the advantages of globalisation for the Muslim world is that we are actually beginning to discover how close we are through satellite stations. We have a lot of live discussions, which actually bring a lot of the traditional clerics out of their Mosques and into the open. They are subject to - some - times hostile - questioning from anonymous questioners and I think that in itself is really opening a lot of closed - minded clerics. They simply cannot sustain any interview if all their answers are very narrow - minded. think that has been a very great help in the Muslim world.

Martin Putna
There is a question.

Miklós Sükösd
Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. I would like to ask a question about the vision of the environment and environmental problems to these distinguished world religious leaders. Most - if not all of them - touched upon this issue. Mr Yousif al - Khoei mentioned that Islamic law offers a balance for consumption and the environment. Mr Singh in his letter emphasised the Hindu con - cept of the earth as "our mother"and the eco - friendly message of Hinduism for the 21st century. Mr Nakazawa mentioned his experience of Tibetan Buddhism and we all know the Dalai Lama's vision of an eco - friendly attitude and we know some Buddhist countries have environmentally friendly policies. Then Mr Enami, representing Japanese Buddhism, elaborated the concept of the world representing Buddha nature and then he explicitly elaborated the envi - ronmental problems that represent an open challenge to humankind.

His All Holiness Bartholomew did not mention it, but I think I should mention that many of us know about his outstanding activities in addressing environmental issues. He called for the regional co - operation of the Black Sea countries and now of the Danube countries, and he is also sponsoring an environ - mental research institute that was recently established. He called for a meeting of Black Sea environmental journalists recently, so he is truly someone who pioneers this kind of sensitivity towards environmental matters.

Maybe I should also mention a conversation that I had the chance to conduct with Rabbi Friedlander last year at Forum 2000 and, although it was a private conversation, maybe he would allow me to just briefly refer to this. I asked him what he thought about the extermination of other species from the surface of the earth and whether this could be compared with human genocide and the Holocaust. He said he did not particularly like the fact that people use the term "Holocaust"for this, but still he expressed deep concern for the matter.

So, let me pose this question: what would these distinguished religious leaders, in their judgement, suggest about human projects, such as the human genome project, in which human genes are screened and transformed into computer information that allows for genetic engineering? what would you suggest and advise us, lead us in our thoughts about the cloning of animals as well as humans? what is your judgement about the extermination of hundreds of thousands of plant and animal species by human - kind? And, having summarised all these challenges, many of you men - tioned the inter - faith movement. What do you think about the chances of an inter - fait environmental movement?

The world needs your authority to advise on over - consumption, on consumption that is not sustainable in the long run. Your authority could transform public opinion and turn it towards more environmentally friendly ways. Your influence and leadership could influence policy - making. And finally, I would like to mention that a clear ethical leadership on what is right and wrong in environmental matters is also needed by us.

Thank you very much.

Martin Putna
Thank you. Antje Vollmer has the next contribution.

Antje Vollmer
Mr Chairman, first of all I want to say that I am deeply impressed by the different speeches, the prophetic voices of the religious authorities and teachers, and I want to thank you. It was a great experience, I think, for us all.

And now I have two questions, very general ones. First of all, if we look back to the past, 1, 000 years ago, I know that there was a lot of fear among the people and if we look back to 2, 000 years ago there was also a lot of fear. Religion was one of the answers to the fear of the people. And now, as we stand before a new millennium, are you really hopeful for the future of mankind?

I also want to ask whether you are really hopeful that religion can exist in modern societies. Do you really believe that there can be a compromise between the modern way of life and modern societies and deep religious faith? Do you not think that we have to choose between the two of them? And where is there an example that there is a real compromise between the modern way of life and deep religious faith? I think the importance the Tibetan issue has for so many people is that we search for such a compromise which we do not accept in our own Western society.

Thank you.

Martin Putna
Thank you, Antje Vollmer. Now it is once again a question for everybody, so to the first question.

His All Holiness Bartholomew
I would like to say a few words on the question of environment. It is true that my church has been dealing with these environmental matters since the 1980s, and we do so because we believe in the question of the protection of the integrity of creation. It is a spiritual question: at least it has a spiritual dimension.

You mentioned concrete cases, negative cases, which are the result of the abuse of creation because of our egocentric attitude to which I referred during my speech. Instead of simply using creation, we abuse it, and that is why many species do not exist anymore. And this is a catastrophic attitude against the coming generations, against our children and grandchildren;we all have a great moral responsibility.

During the different symposia which our patriarchate organises - either with His Royal Highness Prince Phillip, or with the European Commission (as is the case of the coming third symposium next Saturday on the Danube) - we do have an inter - faith collaboration. Christians, not only Muslims, not only Jews, but everybody can participate. In fact, during the second international symposium about the Black Sea - against the pollution of the Black Sea - we had representatives from all faiths and all ethnic backgrounds and so on. Of course, it is necessary to have such an inter - faith co - operation on environmental matters because, as I mentioned, this is a question that concerns the whole of humankind and not only the present generation, but also of the coming generations. I think that is enough on this first question.

Martin Putna
Thank you, your All Holiness, and there is still the second question concerning modern society.

Yousif al-Khoei
I just wanted to say a quick word about the environment and then about modern society. I think, as far as Islam goes, right from the beginning there were a lot of injunctions that related to the environment, such as that in war you cannot destroy trees, you cannot pollute rivers. A lot of Koranic injunctions ask the faithful not to over - consume, to practise austerity and moderation in eating meat etc.

I was actually quite amazed when I did a little study of early Islam that some indictments were set up for protecting cats, which was quite incredible for those periods and some of these indictments are actually still valid today. So, the protection of animals is very important. When it comes to scientific experiments, I think the general view is that if the experiment is necessary then it may be justified;otherwise there is no need to harm animals unnecessarily. On cloning, I think different Muslim juries have different opinions: there is no one consensus on that point.

As to the compromise between modern life and religion, I think religion evolves naturally as you go along;it is quite a natural process. I mean you see me sitting here, could not have done this 100 years ago. But now people evolve, people learn, and globalisation has that positive effect. If religion maintains its heart and spirit, then it stays, but other things change all the time. We find, for example, in London, that a lot of people who are not necessarily religious but come from a Muslim country actually become more religious. slam becomes for them a question of identity as well asfaith and thanks, I think, to the slamophobia, religion tends to function better under pressure: a lot of people want to come back to their roots, to their identity. So, I think, as they modernise and develop they still want to retain their faith, most of them anyway.

Thank you.

Martin Putna
Thank you. You now have the chance to ask a final question.

Christina Rougheri
Unfortunately there is no plate with my name on it, but I am a student delegate. My name is Christina Rougheri and I am from Greece. I would like to pose a general question. The most recent example I can think of related to my question is the example of the Balkans: the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the recent crisis in Kosovo.

From what I understand - and it is personal of course, but I think it is a general outline, a common outline deriving from all the presentations here - is a common stress to the universal. I would really like to pose a question: how do all of the distinguished guests at the table feel that it is possible to avoid using religion world - wide as another dividing line between people, either to that of culture, ethnicity and so on and so forth, especially when it comes to crises, wars, or possible wars and crises? And at the same time, how is it possible to secure the distant religious identities, when it has been shown, for example, in the case of Yugoslavia that there was a very rough, would say, usage, even exploitation of religion? How can we really avoid this in the future, whilst ensuring that the different religious groups would enjoy all their collective religious rights?

Thank you very much.

Martin Putna
Thank you very much. The last question, the last answer. Who wants to answer?

Albert Friedlander
The fact is that whether we speak about Kosovo or other areas of conflict, quite often religions can be negative as well as positive in their input. That is one of the dangers of the religious situation, that one assumes too much authority. As I indicated, religion has no claim of being the arbiter of total morality in the world;in the end all depends upon human action. Religion asserts our hope in humanity, in the ability to move through these periods of darkness;it can and should support all efforts that lead towards creating a better society or indeed, as has been indicated, a better environment. But for us to assume firstly that we have the answers or that the answer can be a retreat from this world or from technology into our own is naive. The answer is not to find the total solution to this specific situation, but to create in human beings more compassion, more sense of self - sacrifice, a sense that they should apply to nations as well as to the contributions that they have to make in areas where they have held back - by preserving their own wealth as much as anything else. Therefore, religion has to be prophetic without being self - satisfied by pointing out ills to others to show that it is truly the true faith and that people should listen to it. We have to listen to others and, most of all, we have to listen to the cries of children in our world.

His All Holiness Bartholomew
In 1992, we had a meeting of all the orthodox leaders at our patriarchate, and at the end of our deliberations we issued a message to our faithful and to the whole world. Among other things in that message we condemned - all of us unanimously - the exploitation of religion, of religious sentiment, for political or nationalistic purposes. And another observation that I would like to repeat here is something I said on another occasion, that any war in the name of religion is a war against religion and I think I was not the first to stress it. I read it somewhere and, because I liked it as an epigrammatic expression, used it in one of my speeches, and I repeat it here again. War in the name of religion is a war against religion.

Thank you.

Martin Putna
Thank you dear delegates, dear guests, ladies and gentlemen. We have heard many interesting, inspiring words, and whilst we were speaking about the light the evening has reached us. think that we need time to consider what has been said to us, therefore let me close this session. Good evening.

1999

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