Dharma Master Hsin Tao Joins to Endorse the Joint Appeal of Vatican's Faith & Science Conference Preceding COP26


The international conference ‘Faith & Science: Towards COP26’ organized by Vatican, Italy, and the UK began in the Holy See at 9 A.M. (3 P.M. Taipei time) on Oct. 4 with the participation of some 50 religious leaders and scientists by invitation from all five continents. A joint appeal resulting from the conference will be presented to COP26 scheduled for Glasgow from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 to hopefully exercise influence on world leaders in critical relief missions for our endangered ecology in the face of climate change.  Dharma Master Hsin Tao, Founding Abbot of the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society (LJM) and Founder of the Museum of World Religions (MWR), honored the invitation by sharing his key concept of ‘Spiritual Ecology’ via a pre-taped video.

Due to excessive damage to the environment by humans besides the depletion of resources, we are now faced with crises ranging from global warming, climate change to disrupted ecology. COVID-19 since 2019 has been adding fuel to the inferno with a global magnitude, and people finally must contemplate how best to adjust and take deliverable actions. In 2015, Pope Francis published his second encyclical Laudato si (Praise Be to You: On Care for Our Common Home) with mentions of the ‘entire ecology’ concept to emphasize the importance of mankind’s coming together to collectively shoulder the responsibility of reviving the Earth’s ecology.

As 84% of the world’s population are religious, the Vatican calls out to religious leaders for unison in yielding a consolidated impact by co-organizing the international conference ‘Faith & Science: Toward COP26’ with Italy and the UK. Before the formal conference took place on Oct. 4, monthly teleconferencing with all invitees had been in process for half a year to map out the joint appeal intended for COP26 later this month in Glasgow.

The Oct. 4 conference opened with a silent prayer led by all religious representatives present on the occasion. Meanwhile, an Italian youth on behalf of another week-long international meeting in Milan on global warming among 400 climate-change activists from around the world was invited to deliver a message and express the young generation’s dedication to ecological protection. Together with all scientists present, religious leaders all signed their names to the joint appeal as a statement of their determination for actions to help with the Earth’s future. Furthermore, religious leaders also took to the podium to make comments and suggestions about climate change and possible remedies.

Finance is the theme of COP26 2021 and, consequently, future actions in finance and commerce will need to include elements for considerations ranging from zero-emission to climate change besides the reduction of consumption of natural resources. The joint appeal also clearly states that all recommended strategic actions are not merely for ourselves but for future generations as well. Similar comments were made when the religious leaders spoke from the podium. The ‘Faith & Science’ conference came to a successful ending when the Pope, together with all religious leaders and scientists, planted an olive tree to embody the hope that our planet will turn green again with brimming energies of life.

The Pre-COP26 Appeal observed that ‘Faith and science are significant pillars of human civilizations and they share common principles that complement one another.’ Therefore, when the Earth is faced with staggering crises, ‘scientific knowledge and religious wisdom must be employed to address such challenges.’ To manifest the theme of COP26 of finance, changes are due for a brave new world with humanity-centric economies that exercise respect and inclusion. With regard to the targeted zero-emission desirably the soonest, it is hoped that rich, developed countries not only sign up to the action in word and in deed but provide funding support to poor nations to collectively achieve set goals and curb global warming by keeping the allowable temperature increase under the 1.5°C redline. The Joint Appeal further calls out to governments to become more ambitious in stepping up international cooperations, supporting clean energy, and adopting sustainable use of the land by preventing deforestation, reviving forestation, preserving biological diversity, as well as by modifying the ecosystem of people’s food supply, so that it becomes more environment-friendly and shows more respect for local cultures, and helps to eliminate starvation while promoting lifestyles whose output and consumption are sustainability compatible.

Dharma Master Hsin Tao offered his viewpoint on universal protection for the environment already as early as 1999 at the Parliament of the World’s Religions (PoWR): to eradicate killings and wars by substituting them with care and love of life from the angle of religious spirituality, and to manifest respect and gratitude for the Earth to replace exploitation and destruction of it. The future University for Life & Peace (ULP) founded by Dharma Master Hsin Tao launched a pilot project of ‘Winter School 2019’ that focused on gathering the world’s elites to prioritize environmental strategies. The experimental Winter School 2021 was moved online for COVID-19 considerations, and the topic theme ‘Decision-making’ was designed to stay pecked to the COP26 theme of finance. Reputable scholars and economic experts graced the syllabus of Winter School 2021 for eye-opening exchange and communications.

Master Hsin Tao is acutely aware of the lack of presence of environmental education in the mainstream education system. As a result, LJM initiated the Here on Earth project in 2020 as a Youth Media Camp for oceanic ecology protection that runs parallel to the ULP. Young people from Taiwan, the USA, and the UK went online for their media hands-on to document the interplay of ecology and marine ecosystem from their standpoint. From waste dumping at sea and marine diversity, video production of those young environment enthusiasts learn about our diversified symbiosis and nature’s game rule of an interdependent co-existence. Their documentaries were digitally displayed for further interactions with young people around the world to echo their support for sustainability.

Master Hsin Tao opted for virtual participation in the ‘Faith & Science’ conference because of COVID-19 among other circumstantial considerations. But with the help of a pre-taped video, the Master shared his grand view of ‘Spiritual Ecology’ with emphasis on veganism, peace, and cease-fire. In the video, the Master commented that ‘mankind and ecology are in fact the same living community of life that only works on the principles of mutual respect and inclusion and shared via altruistic love for a mutually complementary symbiosis.’ On the issue of the deteriorating crises of ecology, the Master remarked that changes need to be here and now to stop exploitation and confrontation so that unison of spirituality with ecology becomes possible and man and nature are granted sustainability. Besides calling out to stop deforestation and promote reforestation instead, the Master stresses more the notion of a ceasefire, as the nuclear fallout would only expedite the ultimate collapse of the Earth. In concluding, therefore, Master Hsin Tao made the appeal to unite religions and facilitate the return to spirituality on the part of the world’s religious people in the hope that people will then go for simple and frugal lifestyles, play a more active role in environmental protection, work closely to end all wars, and consequently re-direct available resources to benefit spiritual education. The Master's video comments ended on a high note of appreciation toward the organizing countries Vatican, Italy, and the UK, for the collective efforts in making possible the conference to enable the vision of re-building our common home on Earth by virtue of great compassion as a complimentary echo of the Pope's second encyclical.

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