MRI Forum 37

"Buddhist Communities in China: Launching of Christian Cochini's Book"

by Christian Cochini


Summary of the Presentation

From being essentially an Asian religion, Buddhism has become in the last fifty years a religion with worldwide ramifications. Be they believers or not, Westerners are more and more interested in this religion, -the third most important one, after Christianism and Islam-, which is already for some people a way to salvation, for other ones a threat, and for the majority of us a challenge. With the emergence of China as a new economic power, and the progressive swing of the geopolitical gravitational center from Europe to Asia , Chinese Buddhism has become, among all other ones, the one which questions us most, thanks to the potential of spiritual energy which it represents for world's peace. This “guide” would like to answer the expectations of those who want to know it better, and embark, with a spirit of openness and faith in the future, on the road of dialogue with the Buddhist communities of mainland China . In our world which has shrunk to the dimensions of a big village, men too often get closer to one another only to confront one another, while they continue to ignore each other mutually and to keep their distance. To cross the real frontiers, which are the frontiers of the heart, is more than ever necessary. The future of mankind depends on the pioneers of dialogue, of these men and women for whom peace is the most precious good on earth, and who are determined to build it by the only means truly efficient: the openness to others, the sincere welcome of what is different. A few years ago, some religious leaders gathered on Mount Hiei , in Japan , have expressed this certitude in the name of all: “ We, together with the men and women of the religions of the world, firmly believe that there is no other way to the happiness of mankind but through a transformation of hearts. ” A “guide” is, to borrow a Buddhist image, like a finger pointed at the moon. It shows the direction, it is up to the brave to make the trip.

Profile of the Speaker

Christian Cochini, S.J. received his Doctorate in Theology from the Catholic Institute of Paris in 1969. He taught French at the Guangdong Foreign Language Institute ( Guangzhou ) both in 1973-74 and in 1986-90. From 1991 to 2001, he was the Director of the “ Jesuit China Center ” in Tokyo. He has been a member of the Macau Ricci Institute since 2002, and he resides in China, where he works in the field of interreligious dialogue with Chinese Buddhists communities.

Profile of the Discussant

Jarosław Duraj S.J. is a Polish Jesuit born in 1973. He graduated from the philosophical faculty WSFP “Ignatianum” in Cracow, the theological faculty “Bobolanum” in Warsaw, and from his special studies in the field of inter-religious dialogue and missiology that he undertook in Italy at the Pontifical Gregorian University (PUG) in Rome. Presently, he is studying Buddhism at the University of Hong Kong.