Keynote Speech in Reception Ceremony at Yeoju HQ Temple Complex 2017-11-29
Keynote Speech in Reception Ceremony at Yeoju HQ Temple Complex
by Massimo Introvigne
Managing Director of CESNUR
I believe I can only express our deeply feltgratitude to chairman Yoon, chairman Bae, director Lee and director Kim, andall the staff for this wonderful day. I will make a short comment about thisday. But first I will introduce the foreign scholars.
I will introduce all the scholars who madepresentations at the conference.
The first is a distinguished and senior guestfrom Japan, professor Hachiya Kunio from Tokyo University in Japan.
The secondis professor Eileen Barker from London School of Economics. And you may notknow this, but she is OBE, which means Order of the British Empire. She is oneof the few scholars to have received this distinction from Queen Elizabeth. Sheis a member of the Order of the British Empire, OBE.
Then we have professorBernadette Rigal-Cellard from University of Bordeaux in France. She is actuallythe chair of her department. She hosted a wonderful conference on East Asiannew religions in Bordeaux last May of this year, featuring several participantsfrom Daejin University and Daesoon Jinrihoe.
Then we have Professor J. GordonMelton, who is a distinguished professor of history of American religion at BaylorUniversity in Waco, Texas. He is the only scholar I Know who wrote more thanone hundred books about religions.
Then, we have professor Susan Palmer fromMcGill University in Montreal Canada. That is another city we visited recently,and Daesoon Jinrihoe delegation enjoyed the hospitality of professor Palmer inher home in Montreal. And she is also a world famous specialist of newreligious movements, particularly of children who grow up in new religions.
Andwe have professor Patrick Laude from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.If you look at him, you will easily conclude he’s not American. He’s adistinguished French scholar of Eastern new religions.
Next we have RositaSoryte from Lithuania. She is a diplomat with 25 years of experience in the businessof diplomacy. Most recently, she has been a minister counselor in theLithuanian Mission at the United Nations in New York. Her most distinguished achievementhas been chairwoman of the European Union Working Group on Humanitarian Aidduring the Lithuanian presidency of European Union.
Then, we will not leaveLithuania because we have Milda Alisauskiene. She is a professor of sociologyof religion in the University of Kaunas in Lithuania. She also hosted last weeka conference there in Lithuania, with a distinguished Korean delegation led byprofessor Bae. She is an expert in new religious movements and she isconcluding her term as the president of the International Society for the Studyof New Religions.
Then we have professor Holly Folk from Western WashingtonUniversity in Bellingham near Seattle, in United States, in the State ofWashington. She is also a distinguished expert of new religious movements andexpert of Chinese Christian new religious movements.
Then we have professorEdward Irons of the Hong Kong Institute of Asia Pacific Studies, who is a wellknown expert of Chinese and East Asian new religious movements, and some of uswere with him recently in Hong Kong.
Then we have professor Thien Hong Ninh ofCalifornia Polytechnic State University in USA. And she doesn’t look like anAmerican-American. In fact she is of Vietnamese origins and we learned to appreciateher papers in recent conferences. She is a very distinguished specialist ofVietnamese religion and Vietnamese new religious movements.
Then we haveprofessor Po-Chi Huang of National Chengchi University in Taipei who is also aspecialist of Asian religions, including India. And that gives me the opportunityto welcome all the Taiwanese delegation of this conference and to remember thatour next conference of CESNUR (Center for Study of New Religions) will be inTaiwan in next year, June 2018.
And somebody who needs no introduction isprofessor David Kim of Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. Iam sure all in this room know him as a well known specialist of Koreanreligions.
Then I would like to make a short comment on theconference and our gratitude about the conference. Some time ago, I learnedthat in the holy book of Daesoon Jinrihoe it is written that “Buddhism is form,Daoism is creation, and Confucianism is propriety”. And Daesoon Thought as asynthesis of the Three Teachings offers to us form, creation, and propriety.And I believe we have seen all these three at work both in the forum and in thewonderful visit to the headquarters temple of Daesoon Jinrihoe today. So thequestion I want to ask after this conference is “did we attend a conferenceonly or did we attend something more than a conference?” I believe that the secondanswer is the real one. Yes, it was a conference but it was at the same time aspiritual experience, a real experience of form, creation, and propriety. Thisconference was a conference like no other.
Of course, all conferences involve the exerciseof the mind, but I will conclude with another teaching I found in the holy bookof Daesoon Jinrihoe. I learned that our mind is inhabited by divine beings, andthe way of divine beings to interact with the external world is through ourmind. It is the first time a conference had such a magnificent scope ofmeaning. Whether or not we are believers of Daesoon Jinrihoe, it is very niceto believe that when we use our intelligence, divine beings work through us inan action beneficial to this world.
There is a famous Western symbol that is thetree of life. The tree of life looks like a tree but it’s much more than asimple tree. Its roots are above, in the sky or in the heaven. In the Westerntradition, the tree of life is the tree of knowledge and wisdom. But at thesame time, it’s also the tree of spirituality, compassion, and love. For thisreason, I want to conclude this very short and humble speech by presenting yourchairman Yoon with a Tree of life. It comes from Lithuania. Lithuania is thecountry of amber. Amber is found on the shore of the sea, so you can regard itas a very natural stone. And in fact it’s not really a stone, but somethingdifferent. It comes from trees buried on the depth of the sea roughly onemillion years ago. The sea takes small pieces off these trees and they arefound on the beaches. When you put amber in your home, you have some effectssimilar to what in the East is the Feng Shui. Amber is a gift from the sea, butin ancient European countries it was regarded as a gift from the gods. So, withdeep gratitude from the heart and deep emotion from what this conference andthis visit have been, I would like to present chairman Yoon with a tree of lifemade of amber from the Baltic Sea. So thank you very much and thanks to allthose who made translations and all the staff and volunteers which made thismagnificent event possible.
Article from Daesoon Magazine 200th, Novemver 2017: