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29 Oct, 2015

Buddhists asked to avoid prayer beads and statues made of ivory

By Xu Wei

Beijing, (chinadaily.com.cn) 2015-10-26 – International Buddhists were called upon develop and coordinate ecological protection services as the Fourth World Buddhist Forum wrapped up on Sunday.

In a declaration at the closing ceremony, the forum called upon Buddhists worldwide to develop and coordinate international Buddhist charitable services such as disaster relief, poverty alleviation and ecological protection, and to advance the Buddhist spirit of alms giving and compassion.

They were also rallied to strengthen merging Buddhism with modern technological civilization, making use of new developments in technology to enhance the modus operandi and strategy of Buddhist missionary works in the joint declaration.

More than 1,000 Buddhist masters, practitioners and scholars converged at the Fourth World Buddhist Forum at Lingshan Mountain in Wuxi, Jiangsu province on Saturday and Sunday.

Among the venerable masters at the forum were The 11th Panchen Lama and Abbot Hsing Yun, one of Taiwan’s most influential monks.

Some Buddhist representatives have called for a bigger role for Buddhists in ecological protection, especially in the ban on the ivory trade, as some Buddha statues and prayer beads are made from ivory products.

Venerable Master Hong Ming, abbot of the Guangzong Temple in Hong Kong and vice-president of the Hong Kong Buddhist Association, said it is against Buddha Dharma to use ivory products in Buddhist temples.

“The Dharma teaches us to refrain from killing, and using ivory is against such teaching,” he said.

However, he warns that it could take time for the temples to phase out the ivory use because it is still the preference of many people.

He Yun, the China program manager of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, a UK-based secular body aimed at assisting the world’s major religions develop environmental programs, said many Buddhist believers in China are unaware of the fact that it costs the lives of elephants if human beings take their ivory.

“That is behind the fact that many are still purchasing ivory products, such as Buddha beads,” she said. The Buddhist Association of China has already issued a statement trying to discourage the use of the ivory, but she believes more should be done to cut down the demand in China.

Reverend Master Heng Sure, a Buddhist master at the Institute for World Religions in the United States, said it is wrong to waste life just for decoration.

“When you tear apart an animal’s body just to decorate something, that makes no sense to me. I think Buddhists should speak up about protecting life of all kinds,” he said.