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Vesak 2019: Buddhism moves to adapt to FIR

The impacts made by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR) on Buddhism was among the topics for discussions on May 13 as part of the ongoing 16th UN Day of Vesak 2019 in Ha Nam province.

International and Vietnamese scholars and Buddhist dignitaries shared their ideas on how Buddhism has adapted to IR 4.0 and utilised the digitalisation era to preserve Buddhist values and further promote the religion worldwide.

Simerjit Kaur Lecturer from the Department of Buddhist Studies, Kalindi College, University of Delhi, India highlighted the drastic changes FIR has brought forth in all aspects of life.

He showed his agreement on the scope and scale of benefits that people have gained from FIR while pointing out social challenges, such as growth of cities, urban slums, frustration, fear of security, emotional discrimination, in the era.

“The result of this impact is more or less marked as an atmosphere of unrest, inequality, unhappiness, stressful life, violence, conflict, mistrust etc. all over the world,” he said, adding in such as scenario, the principles and values in Buddhism could be of immense help to the world.

“As we know Buddhism, with its ethical norms and values, deals mainly with existential problems of human being and strives to establish the regime of happiness and peace in the world. Applying Buddhist approach helps resolve the human created problems along with the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Simerjit Kaur.

Rev. William Beaumont Edwards from Vipassana Buddhist Church, Centre for Buddhist Development, USA, also acknowledged the massive shift in human civilization in FIR.

He expressed his belief on how well-prepared Buddhism is to accept FIR’s civilization changing dynamics.

“I think we can all agree that the resiliency of Buddhism, unlike many of the world religious traditions, has had the ability to obligingly adapt and easily survive any change in those dynamics with which it is presented.”

Meanwhile, Alex Amies from US’ Google Inc., talked about how FIR achievements should be used for serving Buddhist communities, such as software and web application be developed to help broaden access to Buddhist resources.

He said he hopes that the evolving technologies can bring more improvements to Buddhist resources, including large scale translation of Buddhist texts.

The 16th UN Day of Vesak 2019 is taking place in Vietnam under the theme “Buddhist approach to global leadership and shared responsibilities for sustainable societies”.

Five sub-themes are being discussed in groups on May 13, namely “Mindful leadership for sustainable peace”, “Buddhist approach to harmonious families, healthcare and sustainable society”, “Buddhist approach to global education in Ethics”, “Buddhism and the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, and “Buddhist approach to responsible consumption and sustainable development.”

This year marks the third time Vietnam has hosted the UN Vesak celebration. It brings together more than 1,650 international delegates from 112 countries and territories across the world and over 20,000 Vietnamese Buddhist dignitaries, monks, nuns and followers.

Previously, it took place in Hanoi in 2008 and the northern province of Ninh Binh in 2014.