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Panchen tells of religious freedom

THE 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, said yesterday that China enjoys religious freedom.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the Second World Buddhist Forum in English, the living Buddha said the event demonstrated that China nowadays enjoys social harmony, stability and religious freedom.

It also showed China was a nation that safeguarded and promoted world peace.

He called on people to do more good deeds and serve others.

The Panchen Lama said, "this forum is convened in my country ?? China, which has a Buddhist cultural tradition going back 2,000 years."

More than 1,700 Buddhist monks and scholars from about 50 countries and regions attended the forum in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.

The Panchen Lama said that the rapid development of "external material science and technology," or material civilization, brought convenience into people's lives.

"But on the other hand, it also causes environment degradation, growing disparity between the rich and the poor, financial crises, armed conflicts and wars, terrorist attacks and the like," the 19-year-old monk said.

The Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama are the most important religious figures in Tibet.

"The reason for all the adversity lies in people's minds - many people are deluded regarding the causes of suffering and happiness, feel discontent, lack of compassion," he said.

"Sutras tell us: good is rewarded with good, evil with evil. We should now guide and encourage people with the law of causality to serve others with beneficial deeds.

"Only if we carry forward the philanthropic moral spirit, will everyone be guided to do good, and not to harm others; can everyone bear love and mercy, benefit all sentient beings and protect the environment, so as to enable people to enjoy a harmonious and happy life," he added.

Calling for harmony among Buddhism sects, he said, "different sects within Buddhism should respect each other and coexist in harmony," he said. "In order that Buddha Dharma can live on and flourish, we should foster more outstanding talents."

"The 11th Panchen Lama's wonderful English speech has joyfully shocked the Buddhist masters and cultural elites present at the forum," said Master Xue Cheng, vice president and secretary-general of the Buddhist Association of China. "He has a good command of the Chinese, English and Tibetan languages."

The first part of the five-day forum will conclude in Wuxi today and start its second session in Taipei on March 31.


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