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Leading Thai Buddhist monk calls for global understanding, respect of religions

Buddhist monk Phramaha Thongrattana Thavorn said "there is no need for different religions to resist or compete with each other”

A prominent Thai Buddhist monk called on people around the world to understand their respective faiths to be able to “share and respect” other religions.

In an interview with LiCAS News, senior Buddhist monk Phramaha Thongrattana Thavorn, said “there is no need for different religions to resist or compete with each other.”

The Thai monk is a member of the Focolare Movement, an international organization that promotes the ideals of unity and universal brotherhood.

He adopted an Italian name “Luce Ardente,” literally “ardent light,” a name that was given to him by Focolare founder Chiara Lubich during a meeting in Italy more than a quarter of a century ago.

“We should respect the doctrine of all religions,” said the religious leader when asked how non-Catholic educators can respond to the call of Pope Francis to teach beyond what is in the school curriculum.

In his Global Compact on Education, the Catholic Church leader urged educators to promote the wholistic development of children to not only have the necessary skills but also the “right heart” to be able to make a positive impact on the world.

“I would like to ask that everyone from every religion make the effort to find the diamond — the real meaning of the doctrine — of their own faith,” said Luce Ardente.

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He said each believer is a representative of his or her faith and “should delve deep into the doctrine of [his or her] religion, so that, after careful study, they can share and promote the understanding of their religion to the world.”

In predominantly Buddhist Thailand, Catholic schools have historically played an important role in developing the youth, especially in the English language and views on the global community.

Luce Ardente said that in Buddhism, there are “three levels of education.”

  • “Snake venom” education is when a child studies hard, become more skilful and clever, but uses his or her ability to take advantage of those who are vulnerable and less fortunate. This level of education if called “putuchon,” or ordinary.
  • “Anti-venom” education is when a child have “sinful thoughts” and malicious intentions, but uses a strong moral to guide to his or her action. This is called “ariya,” or developed.
  • “Treasury” education is when a child learns to be like a bank treasurer, but instead of taking care of money, he or she guards the resources for the benefit of the whole world. This called “Bodhisattva,” or towards becoming Buddha.

“To those who want tranquility and peace, I say that because you are a good person and I am also a good person, we should bring our goodness and our morals together,” said the monk when asked how can a Buddhist respond to the call of Pope Francis on inter-religious cooperation and understanding.

“We can come together without losing our own identity,” said Luce Ardente. “You should stay true to yourself while we share this earth in our universal friendship.”

“This is the era of globalization,” he said. “We must keep an open mind,” he added. The Buddhist religious leader said religions should no be compared which is better or worse.

“We must explore and experience religions more deeply. Then we can bring the beauty of each religion together,” he said.

He said that only through a deeper religious understanding can humanity experience peace and tranquillity.

“Love each other for what we really are,” he said. “Share the beauty in our lives with those around us. Let us not be in conflict. Love everyone. Love always. Love immediately. Love willingly.”

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