Albert Lin, The Merit Times staff writer
September 26, 2023
From September 21st to 24th, the European Buddhist Union (EBU) held its annual conference at Maison Notre-Dame du Chant-d'Oiseau in Brussels. The conference was attended by representatives from over 10 European Buddhist organizations from countries including France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Hungary, Spain, and more.
Fo Guang Shan Europe was represented by Venerable Miao Di, Superintendent of the International Buddhist Progress Society (IBPS) Holland; Venerable Miao Yan, Superintendent of IBPS Switzerland; Venerable Miao Yi, Superintendent of IBPS Switzerland Geneve Centre de Conference Bouddhiste (GCCB); and Roxy Pang, Sumati Lecturer of IBPS UK (London Fo Guang Shan Temple).
EBU President Ron Eichhorn chaired the first day of the conference. Attendees introduced themselves one by one, expressed their expectations and suggestions for the EBU, and shared ideas and experiences on how to engage more youth. This topic is currently of great concern to various organizations.
A significant agenda item of this year's conference was the election of a new president and members of the board. Stefano Davide Bettera was elected as the new president, with Carlo Luyckx and Munisha as vice-presidents, and there were also elections for the treasurer and new directors. Roxy, the representative of Fo Guang Shan Europe, was elected as the youngest director.
Roxy Pang(1st from left) was elected as the youngest director of EBU. photo／The Life News Agency
EBU stated that the inclusion of the new generation from Fo Guang Shan Europe injects fresh perspectives. EBU relocated from France to Brussels, the location of the European Parliament, and registered itself as an NGO this year. The current societal climate emphasizes gender equality and multiculturalism. To ensure that Buddhism has more influence in the European Parliament, which is a significant legislative and decision-making body of the European Union, the participation of Fo Guang Shan Europe is expected to have a significant impact and create more favorable conditions for Buddhism in the European Parliament.
At the EBU annual meeting, participants engaged in brainstorming sessions and group discussions on topics like "Enhancing the Sustainability of European Buddhist Centers" and "Buddhism and Education." These discussions covered issues such as Buddhist propagation, Buddhist involvement in environmental conservation, and more. The aim is to promote the establishment of Buddhism through education and bring peace, harmony, and hope to the people of Europe.
During the annual meeting, the EBU also organized the "EBU Meets the EU" forum where two distinguished guests, Nicola Censini from the European Parliament and Vincent Depaigne from the European Commission, discussed the value and significance of interfaith and Buddhist dialogues. Additionally, the EBU approved the membership applications of three Buddhist organizations, namely Dharma Nikethanaya Center Milano, BRG Hamburg, and Compassion in Action, granting them official and associate memberships.
During the conference, representatives from Fo Guang Shan engaged in close and friendly discussions with other delegates, including Luc Feldmann, President of the Swiss Buddhist Association; Michael Ritman, President of the Dutch Buddhist Union; Martin Schaurhofer, Secretary of the Austrian Buddhist Association; Reverend Seelawimala Thero, Abbot of the Dharma Nikethanaya Center in Milan, Italy; Ute Heim, representing the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives in the Cao Dong tradition. They expressed their intentions to visit Fo Guang Shan Europe's viharas for further collaboration discussions and also extended invitations for Fo Guang Shan Europe to visit their respective organizations.
Venerables of Fo Guang Shan Europe took a photo with President of the Swiss Buddhist Association Luc Feldmann (3rd from left). photo／The Life News Agency
Fo Guang Shan Europe also provided English and French books by Fo Guang Shan's founder, Venerable Master Hsing Yun, as well as booklets and "108 Tips for Life" cards to develop affinity with the public. These items were highly popular, and many people requested and cherished them. In February of this year, Venerable Master Hsing Yun passed away. Former EBU President Ron and Michael Ritman, President of the Dutch Buddhist Union, both offered their condolences. Venerable Miao Yi, on behalf of Fo Guang Shan, presented a Dharma portrait scroll and a gold card of Venerable Master Hsing Yun to these two individuals. They expressed their deep reverence for Venerable Master Hsing Yun and noted that these gifts were the best way to remember Venerable Master Hsing Yun.
Venerable Miao Yi presented a Dharma portrait scroll and a gold card of Venerable Master Hsing Yun to former EBU President Ron. photo／The Life News Agency
On the last day of the annual meeting, the newly elected President Stefano and all the members of the board presented their visions and engaged in a strategy Q&A session. After the EBU members' meeting, they immediately held a meeting with the Buddhist Teachers of Europe (BTE) to explore future collaboration and expand activities to collectively share and propagate the Dharma in Europe. This year's annual meeting concluded successfully on the 24th, and everyone bid farewell to each other, looking forward to the next gathering.