The Millenium Summit of World Religious Leaders
August, UN, New York, USA

The following Myanmar Sayadaws have attended the Summit.

From Myanmar (Burma) 1) Bhaddanta Kumara ( General Secretary of State Sangha mahanayaka)
2) Bhaddanta Thuriyabhivamsa (Vice President of State maha sanghanayaka)
3) Bhaddanta Osadha bhivamsa (Vice president of State sanghamahanayaka)
4) Bhaddanta Sandima (Secretary of state Mahasanghanayaka)
5) Bhaddanta Agghiya (President of Shwekyin Nikaya sangha mahanayaka)
6) Bhaddanta Sumangala lankara (Tipitakadhara Tipitaka Kovida Dhammabhandagarika, Ph.D )
From U.S.A 1) Bhaddanta Pannyavansa (Burma Buddhist monastery, Los Angeles U.S.A)
2) Bhaddanta Nyanissara (Theravada Dhamma Society of America ,Austin, Texas,U.S.A)
3) Bhaddanta Eindaka( American Burma Buddhist Association,New York, NY ,U.S.A)
4) Bhaddanta Naradabhivamsa ( Dhammramsi Meditation Center,Los Angeles,CA,U.S.A)
5) Venerable Ashin Kovida thara (American Burma Buddhist Association,New York,NY ,U.S.A)
6) Venerable Ashin Acara (Dhammaramsi Meditation Center,Los Angeles,CA,U.S.A)
From U.K 1)Venerable Dr Rewata Dhamma ( Buddhist Vihara, Birmingham)

Millenium Speeches by Burmese Sayadaws and Sayagyi Goenka

State Sangha Mahanayaka Committee, Myanmar (Burma)

Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma

Bhaddanta Dr. Sumangalalankara

'Sayagyi' S.N. Goenka

Message by the State Sangha Mahanayaka Committee

Poverty Eradication

         One of the scourges that is still hounding the peoples of the world is poverty. Poverty includes deficiency in food, insufficiency in shelter and inadequacy in clothing. The poor people, day in day out, has to strive for their livelihood that they could not think of giving donations nor of practicing the dhammas and reading good educative literature, they are unable to get out of poverty. They are caught up in the vicious circle of "being ignorant for lack of means and lacked of means for being ignorant." That is why; the rich should help the poor with loving kindness and compassion in order for them to have hope and to escape from poverty.

         The population in every country is growing fast. The world's population is now estimated at six billions. With the increase in population, the burden on governments to feed, to clothe, to give shelter, to provide health services and education to their people, will become heavier, because the population increase in poor countries will be more.

         In poverty, lack of food or famine, is the most visible and heart rending. Famine occurs primarily, because of floods, storms, fire and bad weather which damaged crops. Drought that continues for years end as experienced in some parts of Africa, destroyed crops as well as cattle and people. The terrible scenes drought and famine caused are so heart wrenching for the citizens of the world that, governments, NGOs, and the World Food Programme, all mobilized to render assistance. According to Buddhist Dhamma giving food to others will be rewarded by five benefits of long life, beauty, wealth, strength and wisdom.

         The developed countries are able to invest greatly in technical and financial inputs that their agricultural production is good. Actually , the overall agricultural production of the world is sufficient for all if it is distributed and consumed evenly. It is because of barriers that there are inequalities in this world. So, it is very important to persuade the developed countries to help developing countries with loving-kindness and compassion. If we enhance the implementation of international humanitarian efforts, poverty eradication will become more efficient.

         Buddhism teaches everybody, rich or poor, the practices of achieving physical and mental joy. We can build a world of paradise, by upholding the noble concepts of, helping the poor with compassion and thanking those that lend a helping hand.

The State Sangha Mahanayaka Committee
The Union of Myanmar
August 28-31 ,2000


Presentation by Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma

(Spiritual Director of the Dhammatalaka Peace Pagoda, Birmingham, U.K.)

       We meet at the end of a century of unending violence. Despite an increased sense of our mutual interdependence, despite the improvements in communications and means of transport that have shrunk the globe, despite the best efforts of individual religious and political leaders, we are still unable to lessen violence, let alone prevent the horrible act of war. The United Nations itself, set up at the end of a world conflict in order to decrease such disasters and the conditions that contribute to them, can hardly be said to have achieved the best of success in that aim so far.

       One reason for this state of affairs must be that statesmen too often pay only lip service to the humanistic values of the U.N Charter. Their actions show them far more concerned with the pragmatism of power. They speak of and champion Democracy and Human Rights without ethical values. Political gain and economic profit are their main priorities. But it is a condemnation of us as effective religious leaders that politicians are so often able to profit by stirring up religious hatred and strife. If we conferred together more often, if we were truly united in respect for each other’s faith and teachings, we should be a little nearer to a solution to some of the problems now facing the world.


       The Buddha’s insight into the origin of suffering was that its main cause arises from attachment. This is a manifestation of our preoccupation with ourselves to the virtual exclusion of the good of others. We are slaves to self-gratification through our attachment to sense pleasures. We define ourselves through the views and opinions we hold (including religious doctrines) and are exposed to the temptation of intolerance. Substituting rites and ritual for true spiritual discipline, we become self-righteous. Finally, our insistence on the autonomy of the self makes us lose sight of our duty even to those closest and dearest to us, let alone our neighbours, humanity or the globe.

       It is attachment that blinds us to our real nature and to the effective solution to our ills. According to the Buddha, the causes of suffering are inescapable, they form the basis of all we experience, but there is a way of going beyond it. In the books, the words for this three-fold way translate as Morality, Meditation and Wisdom. In practice this means self-control, mental discipline and the ability to see all sides of a problem or situation. In this way attachment is weakened and finally overcome. As important, however, is that this way of restraint and insight is the necessary training for attempting to put into practice whatever proposals come out of our meeting here.

       There is a story about Gandhi that he delayed advising a child not to over-indulge a liking for palm sugar until he had mastered that liking in himself. In the same spirit, we too must learn to govern ourselves before we lay down solutions for others!

       And even then there is a further cultivation for the mind. Buddhists call this set of meditations the Four Sublime States. They consist of ceasing to discriminate between any forms of being and of sharing in their experience. The first stage is to cultivate unlimited well-wishing towards all beings; then compassionately sharing in their suffering and standing ready to alleviate it; next unreservedly rejoicing in the happiness of others; finally, developing a non-judgmental acceptance of each individual, recognising our essential oneness of experience.

       Wisdom and insight are not enough. There must also be a sense of involvement before harmony in society can truly be promoted


       We can probably agree that all faiths share common moral values and that in general their aim is to diminish self-centredness. Interfaith activities such as that in which we are presently engaged are also necessary if the changes we propose for the common good are to be at all effective. In putting forward the suggestions that have been invited from us, it should also be borne in mind that the qualities I have already mentioned are the foundation on which they must be based.

        I therefore endorse, as my first proposal, the second of the purposes given for calling this meeting. But I would go further and say that the calling of interfaith councils to advise those in government is necessary at a national as well as at the international level. Until there is a readiness to listen to such advice at the national level, we can hardly expect such advice to make an impact on those who serve their national governments in this place. Until there is a general acceptance of the implications of ethnic, cultural and religious pluralism that the United Nations has championed from its beginning, we shall get nowhere.

       Setting an example to others by adopting an International Advisory Council of Religious and Spiritual Leaders for the United Nations is, then, only a beginning. Indeed, it will generally be regarded as simply a cosmetic gesture, a mere gimmick, unless the extension of this idea to national and regional spheres of government is also encouraged as part of the UN’s work in keeping world peace. It is there, after all, that action is taken for social improvement, diminishing conflict and encouraging harmony. It is there that the example should most importantly be set.

       Changing human nature takes time and in any case is best pursued at the personal level. But the encouragement of insight into it and of the resolution to transcend it is most effective when one is young. For this reason education is of vital importance in achieving a viable platform for giving peace a better chance in future generations. Kurt Hahn recognised this when, inspired by the work of the UN he set up the first of what were to become the United World Colleges to promote international understanding and a listening attitude among students from all nations.

       More of such institutions should be encouraged and given the financial support to make them viable. Students should be exposed there, as part of the curriculum, to the spiritual values of all the faiths. But, equally important, it should be part of the vision of such establishments to encourage scrutiny of the very act of teaching, to test whether the teachers, lay or religious, practise what they teach. From the Buddhist perspective, we would like to see emphasised also that, while ceremony has a part to play in religion, putting what is taught into practice in daily life is even more important.

       With regard to the declaration for peace which is the primary purpose of our gathering, I would wish to see as part of its text the plea that a less one-sided political and economic view is taken of human suffering. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that we should declare ourselves as opposed to the naked materialism and greed that lies at the heart of the false religion of politics and economics and, indeed, of so-called globalisation. Then, in addressing ourselves to individual governments, we should make clear that suffering and need should be recognised wherever it occurs and aid be offered to all rather than simply to the friends of whatever regime is in power.

       Let me sum up by saying that we need to take religion out of the holy buildings and shrines and into the streets. It is only in this way that we can hope to change the present political and economic priorities and open up hearts to the spiritual dimension. The United Nations needs the kind of consultation with religious and spiritual leaders that is envisaged. But not until these and their disciples are seen to be living up to the ideals they teach will their message be heeded.

       Yours in the Dhamma

       Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma

       July 31, 2000


Presentation by Bhaddanta Sumangalalankara

A way to attain world peace

       Everyone had witnessed the fact that during the last decade of the old millennium, sufferings had been inflicted upon many a citizen of this world due to hostilities and armed conflicts.

       Thus, it becomes a necessity for the citizens of this world to find ways and means to end these hostilities and armed conflicts, to prevent new ones from appearing, and at the same time, to ensure world peace and security.

       The presence for the first time and gathering of the preeminent religious and Spiritual leaders at the United Nations, en mass, coming from respective countries and from several parts of the glove to attend the Millennium World Peace summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, makes one experience an especially noble and great auspiciousness.

       The major aims of holding the summit being so noble, it is certain to make people enjoy the endless elation on learning about this great summit.

       We believe that if the preeminent leaders unitedly collaborate in looking for the solution, the aims will definitely meet with success. But many a great success is not achieved usually by fostering and maintaining in us the natures of bearing the good temper. Forbearance and diligence. Success can be achieved only if the mind can kept calm and stable. A fickle mind is conducive to success. Success cannot be achieved without patience. It can be only by being able to function by withstanding the various derogatory remarks and allegations made by various people. Even though a very good work is being done very diligently, some people, entertaining different views, might allege, disparage and do the blaming. But success can only be achieved if one can tolerate the ups and downs of life (Lokadhamma) the allegations and derogatory remarks, without giving in before reaching one's objective, while trying to maintain one's mind in the purest and the cleanest state. It shall not be an exertion of effort within a limited period, but putting forth a steadfast endeavor, without imposing a time limit until success is achieved.

       A proposal shall be offered here that may be supportive towards suitable implementations to be carried out by this Summit in future. The proposal offered is not my own in its entirety. It shall be offered in the context of what had been exhorted by our Buddha in his teachings. Every great religious leader had special abilities and attributes that were inexhaustibly numerous .At this juncture, the attributes of the Buddha will not be mentioned, but only the exhortation of Buddha that had been said and are especially beneficial to the practicing followers shall be elaborated.

       In accordance with the prevailing situation, Buddha had taught the practicing followers the following exhortations;

       1 ) exhortation conductive to gaining of benefits in this very and present life:

       2) exhortation conductive to gaining of benefits in the domain of cycle of life (samsara)

       3) exhortation conductive to realization of Nibbana by being liberated from presently shall be put forth.

       Akkodena jine kodham

       Asadhum sadhuna jine

       Jine kadariyam danena

       Saccena likavadinam

       It means to say that: 1) conquer a person furious with anger (dosa) not by responding with anger, but by development of loving-kindness (metta)

       (2) conquer an abusive or threatening person not by responding with abuse and threat, but by being patient (khanti): conquer a stingy or miserly person by being charitable (dana) :and conquer a deceitful liar by telling the truth (sacca)

       This is just a single exhortation ,among others, that was given by the Buddha to gain the mundane benefit. Please study this exhortation and it shall be seen that white and black, or good and bad ,and or action to be avoided and action to be practiced from a pair in each case, while they are in opposition to each other.

        If everybody stands on the white or the good side, by adhering to the following natures, the world shall be free from all the problems and is certain to become a pleasant and a wonderful one.

       The nature of loving kindness (metta) that is developed impartially towards all beings for their prosperity and happiness.

       The nature of forbearance (khanti) that does not take advantage of others, but only offers self-sacrifice;

       The nature of charitable conduct (dana) that will exude liberality with the aim of fulfilling the requirements of the people in deficiency, including the stingy and miserly ones, so that they are fully endowed with necessities and wealth; and

       The nature of truthfulness (sacca) that does make one tells the truth and completely avoiding lying and cunningness.

       Our world that we are inhabiting has been encountering various problems, the unpleasant objects ,because of the unpleasant natures, namely, raging fury, abusing, disparaging and threatening to others and stinginess or niggardliness and deceit, which are in opposition to good nature. Therefore, an endeavour should be put forth so as to be able to eradicate and free ourselves from bad natures and deceit.

       All the leaders shall try hard to the utmost so as to free from these four bad natures by removing them from each one's continuity of consciousness (santana) and to organize others as well ,who are within reach, to remove the bad natures.

       By suffusing oneself to repletion with extremely noble natures of loving-kindness, forbearance, charitable conduct and truthfulness, after abandoning the bad natures, others shall also be organized so that they may also cultivate and practice these four good natures to the full extent.

       If it can be done in this way, it is hoped that the world peace, that we have been looking for, shall be found within our reach.

       Bhaddanta Sumangalalankara

       Tipitakadhara Dhammbhadagarika (Ph.D)



Millenium Speech by 'Sayagyi'

S.N. Goenka

       Friends, Leaders of the human spiritual world, Leaders of the human religious world,

       We thank the organizers for such a wonderful occasion where we all can unite and serve the humanity. Religion is religion only when it unites, religion is no more religion when it divides.

       Religion is not for dividing people, it is for uniting people.

       So much has been said about conversion: For conversion, and against conversion. I am for conversion, I am not against conversion, but conversion not from one organized religion to another organized religion. No. Conversion from misery to happiness. Conversion from bondage to liberation. Conversion from cruelty to compassion. That is the conversion needed today, and that is what this organization should make a point to implement.

       Our ancient country, had not only given message of peace and harmony to the world, to the humanity. Enlightened persons, have given a method, a technique, how to have peace, how to have harmony. To me, to think of peace in the human society, we can not ignore individuals. If there is no peace in the mind of the individual, I can’t understand how can there be real peace in the human world. If I have an agitated mind, if I have a mind all the time full of anger, hatred, ill will, animosity; how can I give peace to the world? Because I have no peace myself, I am an agitated person. Therefore the great enlightened persons have said: "First have peace within yourself". So one has to observe, whether really there is peace in me. All the sages, saints, and seers of the world have given this advise, "Know thyself, know thyself". Not merely at the intellectual level, not merely accepting at the emotional or devotional level, at the actual level. When you start experiencing the truth about yourself, within yourself, at the experiential level, many of the problems get solved.

       You start understanding the universal law, the universal law of the nature. Or universal law of the God Almighty. Universal Law which is applicable to one and all. When I start observing within myself, and I find that I am generating anger, hatred, ill will, animosity. I immediately realize that I am the first victim of my anger. I am the first victim of the hatred, animosity, that I am generating within myself. Then only I start harming others.

       This is law of nature. If I observe within myself, I find as soon as I generate any negativity in the mind there is a lot of physical reactions. My body starts burning, it gets heated, (there are) palpitations and tension. I am a miserable person. And when I generate negativity in me and become miserable, I don’t keep this misery limited to myself. I keep on throwing this misery on others. I make the entire atmosphere around me so tense, that anybody that comes in contact with me becomes miserable. And I talk of peace. I talk of happiness. (We) keep on talking of happiness and peace. What is happening in me is more important to me than anything else. Law of Nature: If I am free from these negativities, if my mind is free from negativities, mind is pure, again Law of Nature starts working. I observe within myself, at this moment there is no negativity in the mind, and look, the Nature or the God Almighty, has started rewarding me. I feel so peaceful, so peaceful. As when I generate negativity, (if) I observe (I find that) I become so miserable.

       So anyone belonging to this religion or that religion, this tradition or that tradition, this country or that country, when one breaks the Law of Nature, one generates negativity in the mind, (one is) bound to suffer. The nature starts punishing this person. The hell fire within, one starts feeling the misery of hell fire within. This is the seed that I am sowing, the seed of hell fire within. After death I will get nothing but hell fire. Law of Nature is such that if I keep my mind pure, full of love, full of compassion, I enjoy the kingdom of heaven within myself. And this seed of kingdom of heaven, will bring nothing but the fruit of the kingdom of heaven after death. Whether I call myself a Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian or a Jain makes no difference. Make no difference: human being is human being. Human mind is human mind.

       Conversion should be from the impurity of the mind to purity of the mind. How people get changed, such wonderful changes come. No magic, no miracle, it is a pure science of observing the interaction of mind and matter within ourselves. How mind keeps on influencing the matter of the body, how body keeps on influencing the mind. If you keep on observing, keep on observing, we understand the law of the nature so clearly. That as and when I generate negativity, I start suffering and as and when I am free from negativity I start enjoying peace and harmony. That can be practiced by one and all. A wonderful tradition, a wonderful technique (was) given by The Enlightened one in our ancient country and (it) spread around the world.

       Even today, people from different communities, different traditions, different religions, they come and learn this technique. They get the same benefit. They continue to remain Hindu as Hindu, Buddhist as Buddhist, Muslim as Muslim, Christian as Christian, makes no difference. Human being is human being. What makes the difference? But a big difference comes, they become real spiritual people, full of love, full of compassion. Good for themselves, good for others. When I generate peace in my mind the entire atmosphere around me gets permeated with the vibration of peace. Anybody who comes in contact with me starts enjoying peace. This is the real conversion, which is necessary. Nothing else.

       Thank you. I heard the sound of the bell, but please permit me to read out a message of my ancient country. A benevolent message from my ancient country, which is inscribed on the rocks from 2300 years and gives a message to the entire human world. The message of the great emperor Ashoka, an ideal emperor, how an emperor rules. Now this message says, "One should not honor only ones own and condemn other religions". An important message for today. You keep on condemning others,  keep on saying that mine is the best, mine is the best. You are creating difficulties for the human beings. "Instead one should honor other religions for various reasons." Every religion worth the name has got this core, the wholesome core of love, compassion and goodwill. Every religion. Give honor to the religion because of this core. The outer shell always differs; this rite that ritual, this ceremony that ceremony, this belief that belief. Don’t quarrel (about) all that. Instead whatever is inner essence, give importance to that. And there will be no quarrel. "By so doing one helps one’s own religion to grow, and also renders service to the religions of others. In acting otherwise, one digs the grave of ones own religion." Understand. Big warning! "And harms other religions as well." The message says, "Someone who honors, his own religion and condemns other religions, may do so out of devotion to his religion, thinking I will glorify my religion, but his actions injures his own religion more gravely." Now a message. "Let all listen." Let all listen. The message of Dhamma, the message of the Universal Law. "Concord is good."It is only concord which helps us. "Not the quarrel. Let all be willing to listen to the doctrine professed by the others." Don’t condemn anything, give importance to the essence of the teaching of every religion and there will be really peace, real harmony.

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23rd September 2000


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