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Lives Changed For the Better—Reflection on 7th WYBS
Publisher: Date:2018-01-04 View:455

 

 

  

I was very fortunate to attend the 7th World Youth Buddhist Symposium in Thailand recently and would like to take this opportunity to write a short review of my experience. As a brief background to my comments, my wife has been attending a small Buddhist learning group to which I sometimes accompany her. However, the class is conducted in Chinese and as my Chinese is very limited, I have not gained much knowledge of Buddhism to date, even though it is something I am interested in learning more about.

When my wife starting to talk about this Convention some time ago and raised the possibility that perhaps we could attend, I saw this as an ideal opportunity to broaden my knowledge so I was very happy to agree to submit our application. 

We were not confident of being selected to attend as we were sure that there would be many people who would apply so it was a very exciting surprise when we received an email advising that our application had been accepted. My wife was particularly happy as she had been thinking about applying last year but the timing was not right then. 

As a lay person open to learning about anything of interest to me, I was not sure what to expect so it was with some nervousness and excitement that we counted down the time to leave for Thailand. Leading up to that departure time, the volunteer who had been assigned to our Group, He Qian, very efficiently and patiently answered all our questions and kept us advised every step of the way.

The convention was an eye opener, not what I had imagined at all! The wide range of topics covered, the standard of the guest speakers, the sheer amount of information and knowledge presented was beyond my expectations! For me personally, the highlight was the Keynote speech by Prof. Louise Vet on the Monday of the conference, it was profoundly thought provoking, and shocking in some respects, and made such an impact on me that I decided that as from this conference, I would embrace the vegetarian lifestyle to do what little I can to help this world survive.

This decision was further reinforced by the teachings of Buddha as explained by other speakers who followed, such as Khenpo Sodargye, who taught that we must respect all animal lives, not just human lives if we truly wished to lead a positive life now and in the next life. If you had asked me before the convention if I had ever thought about becoming a vegetarian, I would have said it was something I did not feel was possible as I have always been raised to eat meat as a westerner in a western society. However, my decision has seemed a natural step to take now that my eyes and mind have been opened to the repercussions of my old ways. My wish is to make up for the past as best I can.

 

 

This conference was a success for me on so many levels, emotionally, spiritually but especially for the knowledge that I have gained. It has inspired me to think about and re-evaluate my life and its meaning, where I am heading and which path I will follow. I now understand the importance of meditation and I am resolved to put into practice the things I have learnt from this conference.From that perspective, it is obvious that the convention was worth the time, trouble and expense to hold as I believe that I am not the only person to attend who feels that this convention has changed their lives for the better. The friendships that were made, the knowledge that was gained and the skills learnt and shared amongst our group have made a significant impact on all attendees and should ensure that this conference can continue in the future.

My wife and I are already talking about applying as volunteers for next year's conference so we can help another group of eager applicants to experience the same life changing time that we have had, we cannot thank the organizers enough for giving us this opportunity and hope that we can repay this faith in us by perhaps becoming volunteers next year so that we can help other people find their path to happiness!

 

Yours sincerely

Michael Hawkes

Australia

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