Speech at the Closing of the 21th National Conference of Buddhist Monks

Venerable Samdech Preah Akka Moha Sanghareacheatepdei Tep Vong, Samdech Preah Moha Sanghareach of the Mahanikaya Order of the Kingdom of Cambodia

Venerable Samdech Preah Apiserei Sokunthea Moha Sanghareacheatepdei Bour Kri, Samdech Preah Moha Sanghareach of the Dhammayuttika Order of the Kingdom of Cambodia,

Venerable Samdech Preah Moha Sometheatepdei Noun Nget, the Head of the Buddhist Monks of the Kingdom of Cambodia,

Venerable Monks and Clergymen,

Excellencies, Neak Ouknha, Lok Chum Teav, Ladies and Gentlemen and National and International Guests!

Today, I am truly delighted to be here once again with the management of national monks, Venrable Samdech Preah Moha Sanghareach, venerable Monks, clergymen, as well as the managements and officials of the Royal Government in this Closing of the 21th National Conference of Buddhist Monks.

Taking this great opportunity, I would to express my gratitude and congratulate Venerable Samdech, Venerable Monks, clergymen, Excellencies, Neak Oknha, ladies and gentlemen on your active and vigorous exchange of views and experiences for pooling thinking, intellect, and comprehensive and appropriate measures in order to prevent, reduce and eliminate sin and bad deeds in the society aimed to ensure people’s mental, physical and spiritual peace, stability, and safety as a contribution to socio-economic development. Spiritual and actual contribution with conscience and responsibility in the meeting attest to brilliant and firm wills of all the participants as well as Cambodian people in conserving and developing the long-lasting tradition, customs, culture, civilization, morality, and solidarity of our ancestors. All these assets and heritages are our necessary and priceless social capital for transforming Cambodia into a society with strongly-bonded cells, educated citizens, dignified standard of living, peace, harmony and sustained development.

In addition, I would like to highly value and commend the management of the Ministry of Cults and Religion for the joint effort to lead the religious affairs in the Kingdom of Cambodia, bringing about significant development to both religious and normal worlds. With respect to Buddhism, we started with just 7 monks in the whole country, but at present, there are 53,257 monks and 4,553 temples including 4,380 Mahanikaya Order temples with 51,872 monks and 173 Dhammayuttika Order temples with 1,385 monks.

Moreover, the Royal Government has also placed great emphasis on the development of human resources for Buddhism and the promotion of Buddhist education for monks and clergymen. We have organized teaching, training, and dissemination of the Buddhist principles, disciplines, custom and traditions for conducting various Buddhist ceremonies in the whole country. Moreover, we have also established Buddhist educational programs and training, ranging from the Buddhist doctrines, Buddhist primary education to the Buddhist higher education; and nowadays we have 3 Buddhist Universities (1) Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University (2) Preah Sihamoni Raja Buddhist University (3) Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen Buddhist University located in Kampong Cham. All these collective achievements stem from the national solidarity, between Venerable Samdech Preah Moha Sanghareach, Venerable Samdech Sanghareach of the management board, Venerable Monks, clergymen, the managements and official of the Royal Government, our compatriots, all donors that work together for the cause of the Buddhism in our country.

I strongly believe that all participants in the conference room still remember the Khmer Rouge of Pol Pot regime. For only three years, eight months and twenty days, religious believe, tradition, custom, culture and civilization were completely destroyed, particularly pagoda, monk’s quarters, almshouse and other Buddhist buildings were transferred to warehouse, canteens, and animal shelter and prison. Due to the cruel and inhuman activities, Cambodia people nationwide stood up and dedicated our blood and life under the wise leadership of the Cambodian People Party to liberate the nation and people, including Buddhism and other religions from this unprecedented cruelty and toppled the Pol Pot regime on January 07, 1979.

Thanks to the liberation, Cambodian people survived and reunited happily with their families. During that time, in spite of very bad health, severe under-nutrition and contamination of diseases, all Cambodian people still look forward with hope. Because of this, Cambodian people made tireless efforts to mobilize remaining resources to rebuild economic foundation, society, culture and religions, in particular Buddhism by starting from zero base. Since then, custom, tradition, religious beliefs, in particular Buddhism started resurging.

At the same time, we have jointly rehabilitated and restored physical infrastructures in both religious and normal worlds such as roads, bridges, dams, irrigations, ponds, wells, schools, hospitals, temples, religious buildings and other residences to help reduce hardship of our people. Along with that, the Royal Government has made the concerted effort to build more schools and pagodas. As a result, children can go to nearby schools, while old people can go to nearby pagodas so that our people can save time and money, without having to take long journey. At the same time, Venerable Monks can also reside and study in the pagodas located in your hometown. These clearly show the Royal Government gives great importance to the contribution of tradition, custom, culture, civilization, in particular Buddhism, in maintaining peace, political stability, security, social safety, socio-economic development and prosperity of our nation.

Moreover, the Royal Government fully respects people’s freedom of religions. In fact, the Royal Government has paid high attention to maintaining the harmonization between inter-religions and freedom of region for every individual by strictly adhering to the substance of the constitution in article 43 as stated that “people of both genders have full freedom in religious belief. The freedom of belief and the religious practice shall be assured by the state with the condition that will not affect other religious belief or social order and public security”.

In this spirit, the Royal Government always needs the presence and endless contribution in both materials and intellectual ability from all Venerable Monks and Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen and all people to jointly build a nation to become a country with no violence, no human right violation, and with human dignity, as well as to become a country full of highly educated people, morality, virtue, personality, solidarity and a prosperous country to continue the bright civilization with constant security as witnessed in the Angkor arena.

In the principles of Buddhism, the pagoda and venerable monks are not just the worship place but also the place for intellectual and capital training that are the primary seed and investment for the development of other sectors.  In this sense, we have noted that “Wherever there is pagoda, there is school”, that is clearly reflecting the role of Buddhism rooted in the education sector in our Cambodian society.  Moreover, the history and experience have also shown that the pagoda and Buddhist monks have played a significant role in building, educating, and training the spirit of respecting morality, virtue and characteristics in the society.  In this connection, in order to pave way for socio-economic development to be more progress and prosperity with equity and sustainability, it is required to develop the education of morality and characteristics at the same time.

Today, globalization and fast moving progress of technology and telecommunication have brought about numerous challenges for Buddhism, tradition, customs, and culture of our society.  In fact, when the country is more developed in economics, the current of foreign culture and civilization have been moving in as well, which is more difficult to cope with.  The modernization has made our human have the modern mean and relations such as automobiles, telephones, computers and internet.  The information technology and telecommunication have assisted the communication of the people in the society to be faster and more comprehensive beyond expectation.  This made our Khmer society face the multicultural effects and other religions that can be the factors leading to the misunderstanding of the noble condition of those cultures and religions.

In this vision, I would like to attract the attention of the meeting that Buddhism is the religion attached to the cause and effect which is a realistic philosophy on “lives, real-life experiences and implementation”. It could be noted that the foundation of Buddhism principles will not be dried out but realistic, meaning that it is not the stand still philosophy. Thus, the Ministry of Cult and Religious Affairs along with all levels of venerable monks in both Mohayana and Theravada Sect and all related institutions must strengthen knowledge and ability in cult and Buddhism through strengthening the administration of Buddhism study and strictly adhering to the Buddhism discipline in order to avoid any wrongdoing and do good deed to be used as modality and increase confidence and kindness to the people for our Buddhism.

I believe that the 21st National Conference of Buddhist Monks has truly achieved tremendous results for Buddhism.  The topics for this conference really contribute and respond timely to the issues being faced today by the Buddhist monks and followers.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to highly appreciate and deeply thank all venerable monks, Excellencies, Lok Oknha, Ladies and Gentlemen for contributing intellect and spirit and absorbing knowledge and experiences be used as roadmap in religious implementation and real actions aimed to conserve and develop Buddhism in the country. Along with that, the result of this conference has also demonstrated the united solidarity of the Buddhists with the objective to sustain and upgrade Buddhism to be more comprehensive to maintain and protect security, stability, harmonization in our society.

In this regard, as a Buddhist, I would like to contribute a number of recommendations as follows:

First: all levels of Buddhist monks must adhere to the regulations stated in the constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.  The existing legal documents such as Royal Decree, Royal Law, Sub-decree, Declaration, Circular, Decision and Information Note issued by the Council of Ministers must be well implemented in order to be used as driving force to upgrade the Buddhism to be more solid.

Second: all levels of venerable monks must cooperate with each other more closely, according to the discipline and hierarchy in order to strengthen unity, solidarity in the Buddhism institution as role model for the parishioners and contribute to the education of social morality.

Third: All levels of venerable monks must strengthen cooperation with the Ministry of Cult and Religious Affairs as well as with the Department of Cult and Religious Affairs in the Provinces and Municipality in order to work more comprehensively with mutual understanding and trust.

Fourth: The Ministry of Cult and Religious Affairs and Head of Monks must pay attention to strengthen the quality of Buddhism School in all levels to become a center for religious training, Pali language, Sangskrit, and general knowledge and professional skills of the society.

Fifth: The Ministry of Cult and Religious Affairs and Head of Monks must pay attention to expand and disseminate religious principles through Buddhism attached to Society Program in order to inform the people to commit good deed, adhere to the social honesty by avoiding the practice of bad deeds in all kinds.

Sixth: The Ministry of Cult and Religious Affairs and Head of Monks must pay further attention in training the clergymen and clergywomen on their roles and obligations in the Khmer tradition in order to upgrade the well practice cultural tradition.

Seventh:    The Ministry of Cult and Religious Affairs and Head of Monks must pay attention to promote more research and compilation of all rules, regulation and religious affairs and Pali-Khmer Conversation Dictionaries in order to disseminate comprehensive awareness and understanding.

Eighth: Venerable Monks and all Students of Buddhist Monks must pray the sermon and discipline in order to practice as a place for worship of the parishioners.

Ninth:  All parishioners must continue solidarity to build a society, maintain and develop Buddhism to be more prosperous to avoid the nepotism which may make the parishioner lose confidence as well as downgrading the whole region.

Once again, I would like to appreciate and express deep thank to the Head of Monks in both secs, Semdech Venerable Monks, Excellencies, Lok Oknha, Ladies and Gentlemen and all participants who have contributed knowledge, ideas, intellectual and spiritual ability to make this conference a fruitful success.

 

Finally, along with the closing of the 21st National Conference of Buddhist Monks, I would like to wish the Samdech Akka Moha Sankareachea Tippadei, Samdech Preak Aphi Serei Sokunthea Mohasankareachea Tippadei, Heads of Monks, Deputy Head of Monks, Samdech venerable Monks, and all Venerable Monks as well as the Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen the four gems of Buddhist blessing: Longevity, Nobility, Health, and Strength.

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