Inspirational dialogue between Master Sheng Yen and Dr Jane Goodall nurtures the seed of compassion

In the morning of November 25, 2008, the Most Venerable Master Sheng Yen and Dr. Jane Goodall, who delivered an educational and inspirational speech at the Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education two years ago, sat down together for an inspirational dialogue on nurturing compassion. The dialogue took place at the Multi-Purpose Conference Hall of the Taipei County Government.

The dialogue between the two masters who have dedicated themselves to promote environmental protection and sustainable development attracted a large audience and special guests, including the Governor of Taipei County Government, Mr. Chou Hsiwei. The hall was packed well before the dialogue began.

The Most Venerable Master Sheng Yen is regarded as one of the most influential figures in Taiwan in the last four hundred years. He has dedicated himself to promoting compassion and the vision of "uplifting the character of humanity and building a pure land on earth". To help foster peace and harmony in our society, the Master has recently been putting in much effort to promote the "Six Ethics of the Mind" campaign.

Dr. Jane Goodall is one of the most renowned primatologists. Her pioneering study of forest chimpanzees that begun more than 40 years ago in Tanzania revolutionized how we look at both chimpanzees and ourselves. In recent years, Dr. Goodall has been dedicating herself to promoting the Roots & Shoots program around the world. This international environmental education program operates in more than 100 countries. She believes that only through encouraging and inspiring young people to take positive action in their own communities will there be hope for the future of the earth.

The Most Venerable Sheng Yen said that although the environment is degrading, and that environmental pollution and man-made conflicts seem to be leading our mother Earth towards destruction, hope is always there as long as people try to make a difference by assuming an optimistic attitude. Through positive thinking and action we can turn things around from the path of destruction. We should always bear hope in mind and believe that we could change the world for the better. By working hand in hand and by influencing our youth nurture compassion through education, a brighter future will be possible.

Dr. Goodall echoed Master Sheng Yen's comment and encouraged the audience to help bring about a better world by taking little actions and making little differences in our daily life, for "every piece of little difference made by the individual can be gathered and turned into a huge power." However, she said that one must act "locally" to make a difference. Just like the Roots and Shoots program which is promoted in local communities globally, local effort of changes around the world could "naturally" be connected to bring about global improvement.

The Most Venerable Master Sheng Yen said at the end that Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM) is happy to cooperate with the Jane Goodall Institute for the advancement of humanity and the improvement of the environment. DDM looks forward to having more opportunities to collaborate with the Jane Goodall Institute in promoting the nurturance of compassion.

(by Jin Yang/edited by Wei Tan)

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