根據美國著名的獨立性民調機構皮尤研究中心（Pew Research Center）的“2010年全球宗教景觀”報告（The global Religious Landscape），全球約4.88億佛教徒，占世界總人口的7%。世界佛教徒的一半（50%）2.44億人生活在中國大陸，緬甸有（8%）3千8百萬佛教徒、印度則有（2%）9百萬佛教徒。
2014年8月15日出版的美國“時代雜誌”（Time Magzine）的封面主題是“答案專刊”（The Answers Issue）。主題探討著使用最新電腦 “大數據“科技，找出美國社會千奇百怪問題的答案，並推論未來這樣的科技將可能找到改善人類生活品質的答案。不過，在文章接近結尾時，作者也寫下了下面一段憂心忡忡話：“我們也注意到生活在資訊黃金時代的風險：那就是個人隱私的消失，偶然性，內心平靜的消失。
The Important Role of Applying Buddha Dhamma in Modern Society
In the perspective of sustainable growth and environment
Mr. KOO, CHENG-YUN
It is a great honor for me to be able to share some of my thoughts with you at The Myanmar, China, India Buddha Dhamma Forum for Research, Collaboration and Future Development today.
According to the report of “The Global Religious Landscape 2010”published by the renowned Pew Research Center from the United States, there are about 488 million Buddhists in the world. Among which about half, 244 million Buddhists lived in China. Myanmar had 38 million Buddhists and India had 9 million Buddhists population.
I come from Taiwan. According to the Ministry of Interior Taiwan statistics in 2013, Taiwan has 8 million Buddhists which account for about 35% of total Taiwanese population. Therefore, the total attendees from Myanmar, China, India and Taiwan of the Forum today represent more than 62% of the world Buddhist population. This high representation of the global Buddhist population exemplifies the prominence and importance of the Forum and the profound influence it will have on the future development on Buddhism in the modern society.
During the process of modernization in a country, it is very common that the government or the authority normally put economic development and GDP growth as their top priorities with the purpose of improving people’s living standards. In order to expeditethe speed of economic development, aspects of cultural, spiritual or religious developments of that society are usually put at lower priorities than that of the economic development. Moreover, the resources needed for these vital social developments are often squeezed out and sacrificed. With pure economic goals in sight, people give up their virtues and righteousness for short term economic benefits. All of a sudden, everything has a price tag; as if once you have money you can own everything. Personal wealth becomes the most important measurement of success. But, if economic means and scientific advancements alone can truly improve the total quality of people’s lives, then, why do people feel restless and think that the modern society is lack of justices but full of social problems?
During the process of seeking economic development and tangible material well beings, modern society ignored, neglected its traditional culture values and basic social virtues. A society who lost its fundamental believes and cultural roots lost its stability. The society also lost its ability to judge the rights from the wrongs, together with its ability to reflect upon itself. Social problems arise naturally.
On August 15th the Time magazine of the US published an issue titled “The Answer Issue”. The title story explores the newest computer “Big Data” technologies to find all sorts of answers in America. The author was hopeful that these new technologies will be able to find the answers to change the quality of people’s lives. However, the author concluded: “We are mindful of the risks that come with living in a golden age of information: the loss of privacy, of serendipity, of serenity.”
A similar statement was made on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. At the 2013 Chinese Senior Health Forum, Chinese experts enthusiastically expressed their worries about the health related problems caused by the modern society. “The modern life is increasingly stressful. The social resource distribution is unequal and the destruction of the living environment. All caused psychological health, spiritual health, social health, mental health and moral health problems. And the current trends are not optimistic.” These concerns signify that the Chinese society despite of its tremendous economic achievements is also suffering from serious consequences of lacking of adequate social cultural development in parallel with the economic development.
On March 27th ,2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a wide-ranging speech on civilization at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. President Xi said: “Buddhism originated in ancient India. After it was introduced into China, the religion went through an extended period of integrated development with the indigenous Confucianism and Taoism and finally became the Buddhism with Chinese characteristics, thus making a deep impact on the religious belief, philosophy, literature, art, etiquette and customs of the Chinese people.”
On the same day, President Xi Jingping made a speech at the Meeting Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of China-France Diplomatic Relations. President Xi said: ”The Chinese dream is about the pursuit of peace. The realization of the Chinese dream is premised on peace, because only peace can make one’s dream come true. Achieving universal peace has been a cherished ideal of the Chinese nation for several thousand years. Having gone through many sufferings, the Chinese people value peace and hope to build, maintain and live in peace with other countries.“。”Napoleon Bonaparte once compared China to a “sleeping lion” and observed that “when she wakes she will shake the world.” Now China the lion has awakened, but it is a peaceful, amicable and civilized lion.”Therefore, Buddhism, which is deeply rooted in the pursuit of peace and in the Chinese culture, will certainly play a profound and vital role in the great renewal of the Chinese culture and the realization of the Chinese dream.
Buddhist culture in Taiwan not only inherited the true essence of the Chinese Buddhist culture but also promotes the Chinese Buddhism to even greater developments without interruption and stagnation. To take one of the Co-organizers of this Forum, Hunan Xiangtan Daonan Academy, China, as an example, Daonan Academy was founded by my teacher Professor Chang, Shongte. Professor Chang left Mainland China and came to Taiwan with KMT when he was young. Then, he studied Chinese Buddhism under, my Grand teacher, the famous Professor Nan, HuaiJin. Later on, Professor Chang founded Dharma Academy in Taiwan to teach Chinese Buddhism and subsequently Hunan Xiangtan Daonan Academy in China by great demand from his students in China. Frequently, he receives invitations to lecture on Chinese Buddhist culture at top Chinese Universities such as Peking University, and Tsinghua University in China. Briefly speaking, Professor Chang learned Chinese Buddhism in Taiwan and now returns to Mainland for the revival of Chinese Buddhism This incredible life journey is a prime example of how Taiwan helps Mainland China rebuild its Buddhist culture.
Today, the modern human civilization trend is at the critical juncture of moving toward self-reflection, and further to be in coexistence with nature beings in a continuing basis. The Buddhist believes of peace and harmony will certainly enlighten the modern civilization development to the extent beyond comprehensions. On this particular auspicious occasion, let me wish the Forum every success and hope all of you good health and prosperity. Thank you.