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Shaolin Abbot: Buddhism Contributes to a Harmonious Society
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Buddhism -- a major religion in China -- can make a huge contribution to the building of a "harmonious society" and world peace, according to Shi Yongxin, a deputy who is attending the on-going session of the 10th National People's Congress in Beijing and abbot of the renowned Shaolin Temple in Henan Province.

"Chinese culture values the concept of harmony which is quite similar to Buddhist doctrines," he said. "That's why Buddhism is popular in China."

As a religion with "profound ideas of harmony and a conception of peace," Buddhism can relieve the strain and stress among people, and between them and nature, thereby enhancing social accord, Shi added.

"As a responsible country, China has had its own deep thoughts and a measure of foresight in the promotion of world harmony," he said. "Religious beliefs are one of the important social forces from which China draws strength."

He introduced to China.org.cn a popular doctrine of Buddhism -- to do no evil, to do only good and to purify the will.

He said, as has been shown historically, Buddhism has helped avert various conflicts among people and taught believers to re-adjust their thoughts for peaceful co-existence with their fellow men and nature.

At the core of the religion is the belief that all Buddhist sects are equal and co-exist peacefully and amicably. In addition, Buddhism has become one of the important bridges for international cultural exchange, he noted.

Buddhism advocates fusion rather than conflict and there is a deep-rooted acceptance of the concept of difference in all aspects of life. Its philosophies of selflessness, charity, respect, equality and tolerance lend to its quality of promoting and safeguarding world peace.

He also highlighted the two issues being discussed during this NPC session that interest him the most: one is proposed legislation on the protection of traditional Chinese culture, in particular the Shaolin Temple culture; and the other relates to environment protection.

He stressed: "There is no greater threat today to the long-term security of life on this planet than the twin problems of climate change and environmental degradation. It is necessary for us to create a harmonious environment between human beings and nature.

"Many living creatures have become extinct or are threatened with extinction. Forests that took thousands of years to grow are being destroyed indiscriminately for raw materials and to clear land for farming. The air is polluted and the water is contaminated. As the earth's population continues to expand and the demand for food and materials continues to grow, so too does the immense pressure on the environment."

Buddhism was introduced to China from India more than 20 centuries ago. There are now an estimated 20,000 temples, and 200,000 monks and nuns around the country.

(China.org.cn by staff reporter Wang Ke, March 11, 2007)

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