The international conference on Vajrayana Buddhism began in Thimphu on 1 October on the theme “Modernity in Buddhism”.
More than 300 participants are taking part in the four-day conference.
The first day’s discussion included presentations and discussions on research like Mind-Body Practices in Vajrayana Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhism in the West, Vajrayana’s values and Ethics, and Vajrayana in daily life.
The Centre for Bhutan & GNH Studies (CBS) and the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan are organizing this conference in close collaboration with the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), India.
Speakers include world-renowned spiritual leaders, prominent practitioners, teachers, scientific researchers, academics, and independent scholars to explore and analyze the central theme of “Modernity in Buddhism”.
A press release from the CBS states that the modernity of Buddhism is another way of saying that most of the insights into Buddhism can be explored as being timelessly relevant or to say that it is not antiquated.
Other sub-themes include Vajrayana’s skilful techniques, Buddhism’s social contributions, core concepts of Buddhism, including emptiness, the evolution of Vajrayana forms of Buddhism, and myths and legends in Vajrayana, among others.
His Eminence Kalu Rinpoche talked on Niguma Yoga. His Eminence said that Niguma was one of the two fully realized dakini mahasidhas whose wisdom and teachings led to the formation of the Shangpa Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
“The yoga exercises of the Niguma tradition are extremely beneficial for both the physical body and the inner subtle body, which is related to the cultivation and circulation of internal energy and vital essences,” said His Eminence Kalu Rinpoche.
Kalu Rinpoche explained that the auxiliary practices of Niguma yoga can be taught openly without prerequisite empowerments.
The Center of Bhutan Studies’ President, Dasho Karma Ura said that the Central Monastic Body, which is co-hosting the conference, is an embodiment of the Vajrayana institution dedicated to combining skilful means in practice and wisdom in realizing that nothing exists inherently.
Dasho Karma Ura said its many offerings can be globalized, and one way is again through such events.
He added that Buddhism offers its own distinctive bearings and viewpoints, and in that sense, it is also a source of insight on how anyone might approach and shape economics, business, management, environment, food, trade, technology, ethics, social organization, politics, among others.
During the course of four days, presentations would range from Buddhism and Medicine, Vajrayana and Modernity, Buddhism in the digital age, Women in Vajrayana, and Evolving Buddhist Tradition.
81 speakers from more than 35 different countries will share their insights and experiences and engage in discussion with international and domestic participants.
The press releases further states that the first day also saw the opening of an exhibition on Buddhist Calligraphy: An Emerging Art by renowned calligrapher, Jamyang Dorjee Chakishar from Sikkim, India. He is a record holder of the world’s longest calligraphy scroll (165m long).
Her Majesty The Gyalyum Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck graced the opening of the exhibition. The exhibition is open to the public.
The press release further stated that Vajrayana Buddhism has been a central part of Bhutan since the 6th century. Taking a broader view, CBS stated there is a historic charge for them to take its insights further afield to the extent possible through such events.
“Buddhism has developed across time and geographies and the ways in which its philosophy and practices can actively contribute to global wellbeing and transformation, as the world emerges from the pandemic. Therefore, the conference examines the ways in which Vajrayana Buddhism continues to creatively adapt to the modern world,” it said.
ICB’s Secretary General, Venerable Dr Dhammapiya said, “With the blessings of His Revered Majesty, we have received now as in the past, I am certain that the conference will be perpetuated. I hope that this event becomes regular.”
“We need to attend such conferences for ourselves just to be knowledgeable and feel part of the process to work together. It is important for every Bhutanese as well as all the Buddhists across the globe to attend a conference like this,” Venerable Dr Dhammapiya added.
Dr Dhammapiya also said that the IBC provides an apex global platform for various Buddhist traditions and organizations worldwide with the aim of preserving, propagating, and promoting shared Buddhist values and principles.
He added that in today’s complex time, defined by common global challenges that call for shared solutions, the values and tenets of Buddhism are even more relevant.
The conference will end on October 4.