The 4th International ATBU Conference
BUDDHISM IN CONTEMPORARY WORLD:
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
We live in a world that is so different from the one when Buddhist teachings were first introduced by its founder, Gotama the Buddha, in the sixth century BC. The rapid growth of human population has reached the number we have never imagined before. This human fertility together with other factors brought about many complexes and complicated problems to our world: environmental degradation, economic crisis, educational crisis, religious conflicts, ethnic conflicts, commercialization of religious sites, and the list goes on endlessly. What we have been facing since the dawn of modern life up to nowadays continues to question if the Buddhist teaching is capable of offering solutions to our situations that have never occurred before in human history.
Historically, in the early periods, Buddhism in Nusantara, in what is now Indonesia, reached its golden era, during the Srivijaya kingdom in Sumatra, and the Syailendra dynasty up untill the Majapahit empire. After hibernating for about 500 years, it is generally considered that the resurgence of Buddhism in Indonesia in the modern time came after its independence and was marked by the first Vesak celebration in 1953 in the famous Borobudur Temple. However, the return of Buddhism to Indonesia started a few years earlier, in 1935, and was partly due to the effort of the Theosophical Society that sponsored the missionary visits of Venerable Narada Mahathera of Sri Lanka to Batavia, now Jakarta, and others cities. Since then, Buddhism in Indonesia has grown from strength to strength. The first Indonesian Buddhist to receive ordination was the Most Venerable Ashin Jinarakkhita under the preceptorship of Mahasi Sayadaw (1904-1982), a well-known meditation teacher from Myanmar. The strongest school of Buddhism in Indonesia is Theravada tradition and is organizd under the Sangha Agung Indonesia, the Sangha Theravada Indonesia, and the WALUBI.
The International Association of Theravada Buddhist Universities (IATBU) in Collaboration with the Association of Indonesian Buddhist Colleges (AIBC) is pleased to organize the 4th IATBU Conference that will take place in the country of the magnificent Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Indonesia.
Objective of Conference
The objective of this conference is to discuss some contemporary challenging issues and explore solutions to problems in the four specific areas: Buddhist heritage sites; the challenges of Buddhism and multiculturalism; Buddhism in social works, and Buddhist education as transformative learning. This conference is part of the collective and continued endeavor by the IATBU to promote collaborative works and research in the field of Buddhist education; to advance the aspiration of the IATBU on the exchange of knowledge and information with learned institutions; to strengthen and broaden the academic network of the IATBU to many different countries; and to exchange ideas and experiences among fellows of both within and outside the members of the IATBU.
Under the main theme of the “Buddhism’s in contemporary World: Opportunity and Challenge”, we invite Buddhist’s scholars, activists and practitioners to present, share their works and work together to materialize the purposes of the conference. The four workshops are:
(1) Buddhist Heritage Sites
Management of Buddhist Sacred Sites. One of the challenges before us is that unfortunately management of the sacred sites in many places is focused only on commercial benefits; not based on conservation but on exploitation. A Buddhist heritage site has become in many cases only a tourism icon, deprived of its intended purpose, a spiritual solace.
(2) Buddhism and Multiculturalism
To address different issues on religious diversity, ethnicity, sexual orientation / identity, social minority, interfaith dialogue.
(3) Buddhism and Social Works
The necessity to bring forth Buddhism as practical and applicable foundation for solving social problems, not only as philosophical traits; to explore the diversity of social works, inspired by Buddhist values.
(4) Buddhist Education as Transformative Learning
Buddhist education should be able to solve contemporary problems in society. Education should not only exist at the theoretical level, but should engage with contextual and contemporary life through paradigms, learning method or pedagogy, curriculum, and PPE (Planning, Process, and Evaluation).