The University for Life & Peace ignites ‘Loving the Earth’ Global Movement with Education
The average temperature for the month of December 2018, in Taiwan was 21.4 degrees Celsius, which marks the warmest December for Taiwan since 1897. The global temperature has been on a steady rise and it surpassed a 1-degree increase in comparison to the mid 19-century. A United Nations report issued in October 2018, pointed to a very tangible threat that global warming will break the 1.5 degrees ceiling as a tipping point within 25 years if no proactive actions were taken.
Accompanying signs to the climate change include drastic changes of the climate, the temperature of the oceans increases, the glaciers begin to thaw, mega earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, and hurricanes, etc., have become frequent disasters and they are signals for help sent by our planet. The butterfly effect refers to inter-changeable impact that can turn into chain reactions for the Earth’s beings. Global warming has already caused disorder of Nature’s seasonality to affect both the climate and the ecology with further impact on people’s food and health. We are of an interdependent, co-existing, life community, which means bad luck for humankind when something goes wrong for the Earth. Put differently, the time is of the essence to save the Earth before it’s too late.
To build a university for Mother Earth is to ignite the global movement of ‘Loving the Earth’ by way of education. The university will be dedicated to research work of healing the Earth by incorporating the solutions in people’s daily life. Dharma Master Hsin Tao says that ‘Loving the Earth’ ought to be the general direction of our life and a starting point after the awakening of life. To awaken the awareness of, and action-taking for, ‘Loving the Earth / Loving Peace’, while cultivating missionaries for Love & Peace, these are reasons why we are creating the University for Life & Peace.
All beings come with spirituality as Nature’s gift, and the same goes for ecology. The spirituality does not disappear. Only when people are blinded by insatiable desires their own spirituality and that of ecology become temporarily invisible. The University for Life & Peace takes spirituality for the core of its education for the exact purpose of retrieving the spirituality of yours and mine. When everyone returns to his/her innate spirituality, it becomes a matter of course to understand the close relationship of all beings as one, and that they are inter-dependent and -reliant. People will then change their behavior accordingly, which in turn will bring about changes for the world. The tilted ecology will then return to Nature’s harmonious cycle and rejuvinate to become healthy again as before.
The Preparatory Unit of the University for Life & Peace has an International Office in Mahatten, New York, where some 60 international experts collaborate to put together operations plans for the future university. Phase One will see the recruitment of students both domestic and foreign for its master and doctorate programs. The objective is to incubate future leaders responsible for healing the Earth by virtue of activating action plans of ‘Loving the Earth’ for communities both at home and abroad that include religions, academics, businesses, politics, NGOs, and the civic society. The University’s curriculum will incorporate sciences for two major domains: life-awakening and professional disciplines.
Life-awakening sciences have to do with spiritual training, philosophy, culture, and religions, as well as the studies to learn from the wisdom of various civilizations and their ecological viewpoints. By contrast, professional disciplines bundle applicable trainings for the Earth’s healing that span a spectrum from anthropology, life science, cognitive science, psychology, sociology, to peace studies and ecology research, etc. Cross-disciplinary and inter-science syllabus will see integration of teachings fit for co-operation projects for the ‘Loving the Earth’ movement. Applied science will no longer be stand-alone’s but integrated to benefit the students from early on with teachings to instill well-rounded perspectives worthy of shakers and movers.
The major difference that sets the University for Life & Peace apart from other standard universities lies in the set goal of imparting knowledge together with an outlook on, and attitude of, life in the broadest sense of the word. Besides striving to achieve academic results in research work, a higher priority has been set to predestine such results as dedication to the world that shall bring about improvement for the very existence of humankind. The education for implementation at the University will have global impact with trend-setting value propositions. Both the faculty and the student body of the University will begin with him- or herself returning to spirituality individually and change their course of action accordingly to impact friends and relatives, even their next of kin. As in the effect of resonance, such changes cause chain reactions from within all facets of the society to culminate in a collelctive awareness of ‘Loving the Earth’ pan-society. The enlightenment by virtue of such spiritual awakening is in fact what Dharma Master Hsin Tao often refers to in his much quoted phrase that ‘the world is at peace, when the heart is at peace’.
The University’s Winter School 2019 at Yangon, Myanmar, celebrated its commencement on January 9. Its two-week syllabus will run on the theme of “Marching toward a new Strategy by addressing the Root Cause of Ecological Crises”. 12 reputable international experts will employ the group studies module for students to learn from one another among themselves. The program was designed for student groups to collaborate and identify solutions targeted at issues impacting people’s livelihood.
The Winter School 2019 in Yangon, Myanmar
The Winter School 2019 in Yangon, Myanmar: a pre-opening program of the University for Life & Peace and milestone of integrating spirituality and science education
Before its official launch, the University for Life & Peace announced to host a special pre-opening program under the banner ‘The Winter School 2019 in Yangon, Myanmar’, which will open on January 10. The pilot program will run on the theme of ‘Marching toward New Strategies to Treat the Root Cause of the Earth’s Ecological Crises’. Twelve well-known international experts will employ the group study modules to encourage learning from one another among the students during the course of two weeks. The Winter School aims at identifying possible solutions to the deteriorating issues affecting people’s daily life by virtue of case-specific cooperation.
The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has already issued a warning that the tipping point of an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius in global warming will happen in 2030 by the soonest, with all sorts of climate disasters ensuing. The North Pole will become ice-less and summers will be literally scorching. More than 90% of coral reefs will disappear, with the sea level rising exponentially to swallow up coastal metropolises. Countries will need to re-define their geopolitical borders.
In other words, we have only 12 years left to try turning things around from their current standing: severe environmental pollution, life forms increasingly threatened with extinction, the Earth’s ecological order out of sync, with the life of humankind on the brink of collapse. The Earth’s safety, therefore, is only then possible, when we return to the consensus and mission of the “Loving the Earth” ideology that transcends demarcations of countries, regions, races, and religions and instead connects academics, enterprises, politics, and even social movement of global scales. That is indeed the rationale why Dharma Master Hsin Tao promotes the University for Life & Peace as a pro-active outreach program and an action plan to substantiate the “Loving the Earth” ideal that the Ling Jiou Mountain remains committed to.
Dharma Master Hsin Tao says that “the ecology stems from spirituality and life is a continuation of the memory matrix. Because of the spirituality, all forms of existence are inter-connected and life continues to rise. When united with the spirituality, our ecology will display a positive interaction, a harmonious symbiosis, and an interdependent co-existence. In the case of a fallen spirituality, what we as humankind depend on for our livelihood will be gradually impeded by greed, anger, and ignorance that will eventually do away with any and all that life depends on, leading to an on-going destruction of the memory matrix of life and ultimately rendering the ecology unsustainable for Nature.”
The turning point for the Earth to return from being endangered and back to safety hinges on a spiritual awakening, and awakening of humanity and the awareness of the root cause of the Earth’s crises to the extent that the ethics of a spiritual ecology be promoted, its theorization and discourses become professionally established and a social charter and code of conduct for a harmonious symbiosis with Nature prevails.
The second meeting by some sixty international experts and scholars for a think-tank for the University for Life & Peace in the pipeline took place in Yangon, Myanmar, in October 2017. The experts are authorities on their respective disciplines and fields spanning a wide spectrum from medicine, biology, life science, philosophy, ethics, economics, sociology, law, theology, etc. They formed various sub-committees to help steer preparations for the future University and its operational blueprint. Professor Michael von Brueck from Munich, Germany, is in charge of the esteemed Board of International Advisors. The Professor led planning and discussions for the future University and contributed wisdom and professionalism to a sound and solid foundation of the University for Life & Peace, which has been taking up a more definite shape and form step by step over time.
What sets the University for Life & Peace apart from a standard university is its mission in passing on a mindset and an attitude of life besides what the curriculum offers, as well as its emphasis beyond achieving academic results by dedicating these to the world to make a substantial contribution to the improvement of the milieu of mankind.
It is in the design of the University that its mission will yield results to have wide-ranging impact for the world and achieve new milestones in creating values. Put succinctly, the University for Life & Peace will amplify how individuals return to spirituality and influence friends and relatives and even the next of kin by embracing and embodying changes themselves, pretty much similar to the effect of resonance that gives rise to chain reactions through different segments of the society inducive of a collective consciousness of “Loving the Earth”. Such enlightened awakening of spirituality, in effect, is a realization of what Dharma Master Hsin Tao always refers to in his famous quote that ‘the world is at peace when the heart is at peace’.
It may take another three to five years for the University for Life & Peace to reach the level of fund-raising sufficient to sustain its operations. The Winter School 2019, Yangon, Myanmar, as its special, pre-opening program with foresight is both relevant and applicable. As the first step on its way to a meaningful milestone for the future University for Life & Peace, the pilot program will also mark the first step of a promising future for humankind as well.
Opening Remarks by Dharma Master Hsin Tao on the Occasion of the Commencement of the 2019 Winter School at Yangon
Teachers and students, Amitabha!
I believe we all travel afar for thousands of miles to meet in Myanmar for a calling and a mission. There is no other way to call it.
The Commencement today can be very emotional and significant for each and every advisor who has ever been part of the collective effort. The Winter School consists of seed faculty members and students from more than 15 countries and regions. Your participation will mark a key milestone in education where spiritual values and scientific professionalism work closely together. The Winter School won’t be long, but our hearts are close to one another and they are enthusiastic, solemn, and full of expectations.
Ecological crises in recent decades have become the harshest reality on the Earth. Extreme climate changes and extinction of life forms have appalled people and shocked us to the core. The recent alert entitled ‘The Critical 12 Years’ issued by the United Nations prompted our realization that actions can no longer be put off any further.
Cross-disciplinary researches have led to the notion that the cycle of the Earth’s civilizations is by no means limited to the short millennia as we know them. Ancient, highly developed civilizations existed eons ago or even earlier and their level of technological advancement surpassed what we have achieved to date. But no matter whether a global wipe-out or a regional and local decay of the civilization, ecological dysfunctions were the common denominator. Evidence of commonality to the destruction of civilizations displays a uniform, in that once human civilizations disrupt the organic nature of the environment, the Earth loses its sustainability and the irrevocable crises of ecology will ultimately lead to the demise and disappearance of our civilization.
It can be said that mankind’s advanced science and technology are both a blessing and a curse. The ever-improving technologies keep increasing the output of agriculture and industries as well as the convenience in our daily life. But a lack in the inclusion of the sustainability factor can only lead our civilization to destruction overnight, once all natural resources are exhausted and people are left with the consequent aftermaths such as wars, famains, diseases, etc.
We are filled with all sorts of feeling by just how obvious the global environment has been deteriorating. ‘The Principles of Positive Governance’ for guidance of future human society, as well as ‘Safeguarding Nature’s Positive Cycles’ are thematic issues that have been receiving more and more global attention, yet their corresponding solutions continue to remain far beyond reach. Ecology is the sum of the Earth’s entire survival system, which is of an organic nature and when this organic nature is damaged, irreversible disasters happen. The dilema is in a dire need for a consensus and effort by the world’s elite.
Ecology has its roots in spirituality and life is an extention of the memory matrix. Because of the spirituality all beings are interconnected and life continues. When we are one with the spirituality, our ecosystems interact positively in a harmonious symbiosis and an interdependent co-existence. In the case of a fallen spirituality, greed, anger, and ignorance will gradually destroy what we rely on for livelihood and devour what all life forms depend on for existence, resulting in an on-going disruption of the biological memory matrix, causing the natural ecosystem to become too depleted to continue. The critical point of departure for the Earth to leave endangerment and return to safety is only possible with the awakening of spirituality and people’s awareness of the root cause of the Earth’s crises. Ethics of the spiritual ecology will then be promoted, its theoretical principles be professionally established to become binding codes of conduct that sync with Nature in a harmonious symbiosis.
As a faithful believer in, and a committed practitioner of, Buddhism and at the same time the initiator of the mission to promote the “Loving the Earth” movement, I firmly believe that all proposals to benefit the Earth’s sustainability must stem from the awakened realization that global ethics be the ultimate starting point. Only by abiding by the ecological axiom of ‘a diversified symbiosis and an interdependent co-existence’ that enables the manifestation of an inter-reliant co-existence of all beings in ever-lasting, positive interactions. Thus accordingly, it will forever remain our original intent for the recruitment of talents for the creation of the University for Life & Peace to research and go the academic distance and professionally build up an education system that observes the way of peace, and co-exists and co-flourishes with the ecology.
At this point in time we chose to launch a visionary and experimental Winter School in Yangon, Myanmar for the University for Life & Peace for a milestone that is hopefully meaningful both time- and space-wise. It is my hope that the incubation plan of the Winter School - thanks to your contribution of wisdom and compassion - will become key building blocks to improve the Earth’s environment in the future. Moreover, because of the unfailing attention and support over time by people in the know from the international communities, we are positive that the ‘Loving the Earth’ movement will gain further momentum in this fertile soil here towards fruition. At the same time, we believe that the faculty and the student body from different parts of the world will jointly enrich the syllabus and the curriculum to make the short-term but intensive course a summit experience of theory and practice alike. On that note, we wish you a pleasant and gratifying study experience.
Finally, we cordially invite you all to join us in the promotion of ‘Ethics of the Earth’s Ecology’ based on the spiritual resonance, and together we shall make the teaching of it snappy and effective, far-reaching yet on solid ground. Let us continue to talent-scout elite teachers who share this common vision to join us in the education of generations of seeds of peace, who subscribe to the notion of ‘a diversified symbiosis and an interdependent co-existence’, which allows Mother Earth to recuperate her vitality and enables us to take our planet towards a more advanced civilization.
Shih Hsin Tao
Wu Sheng Monastery
Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society
Prof Michael von Brück Keynote
For the first time in history physical survival of humankind depends on a radical mental change of human beings.1 (Erich Fromm) Human evolution has moved into a period of unprecedented globalisation that has led to the exploitation of the Earth’s resources, brought about by the scientifictechnological revolutions and their economic implications. This has led to a demographic change so that soon 10 billion people might live on earth. In order to feed them properly, the consequence is that all previous patterns of life and human adjustments are no longer applicable. The worldwide economic system is built upon investment and increase of capital which again seeks for more investment. This cycle generates the need for unlimited economic growth. Technological innovation may be able to reduce some of the most obvious damages to climate change and the exploitation of resources, but mere technological solutions will not be sufficient on the long run to sustain human life for the ongoing future, because the earth is a closed ecological system. Endless quantitative growth is impossible in a limited system.
Cultures are Cultures are exposed to the ecological damage and destruction in different ways and at different speeds. This fact contributes to increasing discrepancies between different areas of the world, and thus to a widening of injustice and inequality. This rampant injustice in turn breeds increasing violence and social disintegration. Due to the modern media this dynamic of violence is made known globally so that fear and anger increase, which again triggers further violent behaviour. As a result, the spiral of social and ecological violence goes on with increasing speed. All this contributes to increasing migration in many parts of the world, which again will engender to violence and further ecological damage.
In order to make a substantial change, a fundamental turn of our consciousness is necessary, in a way that creates new life-styles, new technologies, and more importantly, a new awareness of the interdependence of all different forms and systems of life on earth – and perhaps in the entire cosmos. This also calls for a different awareness of time. Any human action, be it on the individual or the collective level, must be seen and evaluated from a longer time perspective, and the possible life-enhancing or life-endangering results have to be calculated within this wider framework.
It is important that humans who are aware of this need for a fundamental change not be blocked by fear and anxiety concerning the future. The dangers facing us as a global community can motivate us human beings to greater creativity and inspire us toward taking a more active part in shaping the present and the future. However, intelligent strategies and solutions can be worked out better on the basis of positive experiences rather than out of fear or danger. In order to motivate multitudes of people toward transformation of attitudes and lifestyle, it must be clearly conveyed and demonstrated that a change from the ideal of quantitative growth toward a qualitative enhancement in all aspects of life is a source for joy, happiness and fulfilment for us. It is not restraint and the call for an ascetic life style that will motivate people, but the call for an enhanced life, appreciation of beauty, and participatory justice, in ways that will enable us to live life to the fullest. People need to know that there are already millions of people engaged in different ways toward a transformed way of life that is economically and ecologically sound and sustainable. There is a growing movement toward intercultural and interreligious cooperation in ecological healing, economic justice, and cooperation among peoples, as well as a religious openness to each other given our differences. Before us are intertwined scientific, technological, industrial, social, religious and cultural issues. A good example of this positive approach involving these intertwined issues is the „Earth Charter: Vision, Ethics and Action“, which calls for full implementation and activation on the various levels it addresses.
Our Winter School in Yangon, Myanmar, in January 2019 is a preparation for establishing a University for Life and Peace, which will explore the deep roots of the ecological crisis so as to find integral ways to meet the challenge on all levels described above. This project is inspired by the vision of Dharma Master Hsin Tao, with the support of the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society. We start from the hypothesis that it is human greed and ignorance that is at the root of the problem. Today we have technological developments that are fuelled by this greed pursued in unbalanced ways that become destructive on a global scale.
Technological development will inevitably continue due to the increase in our knowledge and information about the world, but this can be redirected based on proper insight into the way things are, insight on our human condition and our current situation. Such insight needs to be institutionalized in appropriate ways in new social, economic, political, technological systems conducive to sustaining and enhancing life rather than toward its destruction.
Here, courage is necessary for us to move forward in this direction. Unbridled greed may or may not be an anthropological given, but we also have evidence that greed can be curtailed, and that the mind can be controlled when cognition and emotion are balanced. This is why our approach is necessarily interdisciplinary, not only in bringing together different natural and ecological sciences, but also social sciences as well as the science of the mind, toward a holistic and integral vision combined with practical approaches that will include technological, economic, political, social, and other aspects. We will explore new ways in theory and practice toward developing and deepening our spiritual capacity, both individually and collectively, drawing on the resources of our different cultural and religious traditions.
We seek ways to increase personal motivation and collective determination to move from mere quantitative to more qualitative parameters in evaluating our life styles, as we seek to implement new ways of organizing our life on the basis of intelligence and innovation, grounded on harmonious and balanced emotions banking on discoveries in neuroscience as well as on spiritual practice. We will explore new forms of science, technology and economy that will be in tune with our natural environment, seeking to restore the balance in the ecosystems. We will conduct this program in Myanmar, a country that is at the cusp of growth in all dimensions, with an international group of students and faculty, learning from the local resources while applying insights from a global perspective. We seek to raise questions pertinent to our local situations, and to find answers that can be implemented on a global scale.
Purpose/Fundamental Strategy/Course Titles of the Syllabus
This course is intended for students in Master’s and PhD programs. Its goal is for students to understand the deep roots of the current ecological crisis from interdisciplinary perspectives, to engage creatively in finding practical solutions to the pressing problems of humankind, through enhancing the training of a mentality (including cognitive and emotional faculties) that is ready to engage in concrete action for the betterment of human life in our 21st century global society.
The course follows an interdisciplinary approach, geared for students with backgrounds or area specializations in scientific/technological fields such as physics, chemistry, medicine, engineering, economics, environmental studies as well as humanistic fields such as peace studies, cultural studies, political science, sociology, psychology, theology and related subjects. The course will be conducted by experts renowned in their respective fields. The scholars will reflect on their disciplinary approaches in an interactive way, so as to generate new and relevant questions about our way of life and to find solutions that go beyond compartmentalized understandings of reality.
The course will be conducted in Myanmar, a country that is politically, economically and ecologically most vulnerable, and yet full of opportunities, bringing together experiences of an ancient Buddhist culture faced with the sufferings, struggles and challenges of the present economic and ecological situation of a Third World country, reflecting on new ways to engage in building a better future for its people.
Students would benefit from this cross-over situation, make intense contacts in small groups with intellectual leaders and with each other, working on cooperative projects for further engagement on the level of national and international organizations that deal with the ecological situation, including United Nations Agencies, Think Tanks, Foundations, NGOs, and others. This Winter school provides an ideal setting to network academically, personally and institutionally.
The Learning Goal will be to become familiar with the present frontiers in ecological thinking and to consider how best to implement solutions in in projects and to challenge industrial designs worldwide. Students will have an experience to draw their own consequences from the theoretical and practical input they get, for they will design their own virtual projects that will be discussed and critiqued by the other participants.
Students will receive an academic certificate from the Human Science Centre of the University of Munich, Germany.
Six Interdisciplinary Areas have been identified for analysis which will start with historical overviews (areas 1-2), move on to basic anthropological, psychological and structural themes (areas 3-4) and continue with explorations of possible solutions through cognitive and spiritual transformation, and reform of economic structures (areas 5–6).
Six Interdisciplinary Areas:
1. Ecological World Views of Ancient Traditions as well as of major World Religions (Anthropology, History, Religious Studies)
2. Why Did Ancient Civilizations Perish and Why is Humankind Facing an Ecological Disaster Today? (Anthropology, History, Religious Studies, Ecosciences)
3. Major Reasons for a Lifestyle out of Balance (Aggressivity, Greed, Social and Economic Forces) and Realistic Possibilities for Change (Empathy and Resources for Proper Decision Making) (Neurosciences, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Psychology, Buddhist Studies)
4. Cooperation and Competition in Social Systems (Economy, Psychology, Neurosciences, Religious Studies, Law, Biology)
5. New Models of Education: Holistic Views on Creativity, the Realization of Interdependency and Sustainable Life Styles (Psychology, Philosophy, History, Buddhist Studies)
6. Economics and Ecology: Toward a Vision of An Ecologically Sustainable Economic System (Ecosciences, Economics)
Course Titles of the Syllabus