DDM Youth Delegates Participate the Young Leaders Peacebuilding Retreat

---Master Sheng Yen encourages young leaders to promote global peace by starting with inner peace within oneself and share this view with others at Dharma Drum Retreat Center, Pine Bush, New York, from October 26-27 2006

On 22 October, the Most Venerable Master Sheng Yen led a delegation of 15 young members from Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM/Fagushan) and departed for New York to attend the Young Leaders Peacebuilding Retreat which was co-hosted by Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW) and DDM at Dharma Drum Retreat Center from 26-27 October .

Seventy-five young leaders from various countries who will participate in the UN Global Youth Leadership Summit were also invited to the retreat. They engaged in the interfaith and intercultural dialogues and explored various solutions for global issues such as poverty, sex and environmental protection.

During the opening ceremony on 26 October, Master Sheng Yen pointed out, "The cause of world poverty is not natural disaster but man-made wars. To eliminate war we must have a spiritually rich and generous heart." The Master said, "The meaning of not being impoverished is to be unselfish, not greedy, not indulging in endless pursuits but be ready at all times to contribute what you have. On the contrary, even a wealthy person is poor if he is a miser and is only concerned about himself."

Although eliminating poverty is a challenging issue, the Master encouraged young delegates to begin with themselves. "If we ourselves are not in spiritual impoverishment, we will be able to help. When we are at peace then the world we see is also at peace. Even if the external environment is not at harmony, at least we won't be affected; nor will we create further conflict. Global peace begins with the inner peace." The Master suggested the young delegates to raise this point at the UN Global Youth Leadership Summit.

The Convener of GPIW, Dena Merriam opened the Young Leader Peacebuilding Retreat with the former Deputy Secretary General of United Nations, Olara Otunnu. On 26 October, the delegates discussed the topic of the 'Practicing Peace' and watched a documentary 'Darwin!|s Nightmare', provided by Prof. Narinder Kakar. On 27 October they explored such issues such as sex and medication and examined ways of building inner peace.

In addition to analytical and intellectual discussions, young delegates also practiced Chan meditation and shared stories of their lives. Through reflections of their personal experience, together they explored the possibility of achieving world peace.

Secretary General of the World Muslim Congress (WMC), Amir Al-Islam, said that he is an African American and he does not want racial discrimination to occur again in the world because of his unpleasant childhood experiences. He mentioned that he once had eleven brothers and sisters, however he now only has one sister.

Robert Chastin, Chief of an American Indian tribe, Cherokee, led the young delegates outdoors to enjoy the freshness of spring and walked through the forest. His Holiness Swami Chitananda Saraswati held a fire ritual for the purification of inner heart. With such intercultural exchanges, there are no more barriers regarding national boundaries or boundaries within the mind.

(Translated by Jin Yang/Edited by Agnes Chow)

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