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President Rivlin hosts faith leaders from East Asia Photo by Elram Mandel (MFA)
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President Rivlin hosts faith leaders from East Asia

12 September 2016

President Rivlin hosts faith leaders from East Asia

(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)

 

President Reuven Rivlin hosted a unique and special meeting at his residence, which brought together faith leaders from East Asia, including leading figures from the Buddhist, Hindu, and Sikh communities from India, Japan, China, Myanmar, and South Korea. The interfaith dialogue session, was a highlight during the visit of the first such delegation to Israel under an initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in partnership with the American Jewish Committee and the World Council of Religious Leaders. Speaking at the event was President Rivlin, H.H. Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Swami Avdeshanand Giri, spiritual leader of the Hindu community in India, and H.H. Most Ven. Xuecheng, president of the Buddhist Association of China. 

 

"Welcome to Jerusalem, the capital Israel," began the President warmly welcomed the delegation, and said “For many years, the interaction between our traditions hardly existed, only few people experienced both East and West. This is no longer the situation, as your visit today shows. Today we are all more exposed to the great treasures of the other side.”

 

Stressing the challenges the world and world faiths were face with, the President said however, “with the good comes the bad. As the world becomes smaller, problems that were once local and limited are now everyone's problem. Sometimes these problems have a human face. Yesterday, September 11th, is a reminder of the disaster created directly by distorted religious belief. At other times, these problems don't have faces, but are still caused by humans; global warming, and other pressing environmental issues.”

 

He stressed, “Honorable guests, we must face these problems together and we can face these problems together. Our traditions have much in common; we all share a deep concern for human life and dignity; we all believe that this planet does not belong to us, but we belong to it, and we must take good care of it.”

 

He concluded, “Your visit here today is another link in this growing and important chain of cooperation. Let us make sure this chain grows stronger. Let us join today in prayer and meditation, for a better and healthier world, and for a peaceful and tolerant global society.”

 

H.H. Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Swami Avdeshanand Giri, spiritual leader of the Hindu community in India, thanked the President for his warm welcome. Noting the importance of the meeting, he warned that, “The modern world is full of stress, anxiety, and insecurity. There are not only psychological pressures in terms of exploitation, but the natural resources are also exploited. We exploit nature for one’s own happiness, for one's own consumption, for one's own luxury. There is insecurity and global imbalances." He added, “The youngsters to whom we pass the baton and pass on the heritage, the youth especially of these two great religious traditions, are going away from the traditional values, and are adapting to the values of self-interest.”

 

He concluded, “When we have dialogue with each other, we gain knowledge, and such dialogues help us pass on these traditional values to the next generation, as well as help furthering peace and harmony in the whole world.”

 

Speaking next was H.H. Most Ven. Xuecheng, president of the Buddhist Association of China. He also thanked the President for his hospitality and praised the importance and uniqueness of the meeting. He noted, “It is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to be here at the President's Residence. In China there are five major religions, we have a population of over 200 billion believers. We believe in belief. All these five major religions emphasise mercy and compassion, peace and freedom, we can exist peacefully. Interfaith dialogue is very important in modern society. I think we can make true friends, and really build mutual respect and understanding, and make a harmonious world. We can build common recognition as an example for the whole world, contributing to peace in the whole world.”