We are living in an era that is heavily influenced by a pervasive scientific mind-set and a devaluation of religion. For example, I myself did not have a religious upbringing. Indeed, in my youth, I had no urge to associate myself with any faith, and thought of religion as just ancient superstition. Fortunately, when I was in my mid-twenties, Professor Fang Dongmei, a great philosopher of profound insight who was to completely change how I saw religion began to teach me. It was Professor Fang who opened the door for me to the world of faith, and for this I am eternally grateful. He generously tutored me personally in his home. My course constituted a comprehensive introduction to philosophy beginning with the western tradition ranging from Plato to Kant, and concluding with all the great philosophical traditions of the East.
I was 26 when I first met Professor Fang and became his student. Now, in the blink of an eye, I am 92! Inspired and encouraged by Professor Fang, I have been studying Buddhist scriptures for more than six decades and also have been studying the classical scriptures of the world's religions for around twenty years, and all these have brought me to an ever-deeper realisation of the truth first taught to me so many years ago. The founders of all the world's faiths were enlightened social educators. Not only were they the greatest teachers of their time, but we can still benefit from their profound and compassionate teachings today.
True religious education is fundamental, and may even be essential to the very survival of humanity. The British historian, Arnold Toynbee, reflecting upon his lifelong study of the rise and fall of human civilisations, warns us that when we review human history, we will realise that the higher religions have had a longer hold on a greater number of minds and hearts than any other institutions known to us to date, and that when people lose the traditional faith embodied in religion, human civilisation will be on the path to destruction.
For many years, we have enjoyed continual dialogue with representatives of the great faiths of the world and studied their scriptures. As a result of this, we have come to an ever-deepening realisation that all the traditions share one divine origin. The core of all religious teachings is love. The essence of all true religious education is to guide us to love sincerely, selflessly, and unconditionally and to extend this love to all people, all living beings, and ultimately to the whole of creation. Love is the principal virtue of our true nature.
Today, in a world of constant turmoil, the One God, Heaven will appear on earth. I believe that all of us have a responsibility to help bring heavenly order to the suffering world.
In recent years, we have devoted our efforts to the revival of religious education and the active promotion of religious harmony through word and action. From our first efforts it has become clear that the establishment of harmony between various faith communities has a significant impact on the harmony and prosperity of the broader society. If we can show how religious harmony can be established between the faith communities of even a small town, we may then see how this can be extended to a city, a nation, or, ultimately to the whole world, progressively realizing the ideal of harmonious co-existence and unity amongst all peoples of the world.
Our years of practice and experience have shown us how a deepening of religious harmony can be fostered through a respectful study of each other's scriptures. Through such a study, teachers and adherents of all faiths may come to recognise all that they have in common: that they share the same divine origin in unconditional and universal love, and that they are all children of the same God.
This same God manifested in different forms to different nations which were once so geographically distant, but now form part of one global village. However, behind all of these apparent differences is the same message: that we should love one another; abandon wrongdoing; live a wholesome and moral life, and work for the benefit of all humankind. Only this deeper understanding of the common divine origin of all religions can provide a true basis for lasting religious harmony.
In view of the vital importance of studying and learning from the sacred texts of all faiths, we have humbly selected some core excerpts from the scriptures of eleven of the world's religions for this book. We hope that by reading this small selection it will become clear that all religions have their origin in the universal love of the One God. Furthermore, we hope that through studying these texts readers will come to understand that the whole of creation is in fact One; that the divine love of the One God dwells within the true mind and true self of all beings, and that all existence in the universe are interconnected, mutually inclusive and inseparable within God's divine love - which is, in fact , our true heart and true soul.
To demonstrate the common divine wisdom expounded in the sacred texts of all faiths, the excerpts in God Loves All Beings mainly focus on four aspects: 1) how all faiths demonstrate universal love; 2) how all faiths, by the means of religious education, hoped to guide humankind to abandon wrongdoing and perform wholesome deeds, to respect and love each other, and to live in harmony; 3) that the existence of the true divinity pervades the whole universe and transcends time and space; and 4) that the true self, or true mind, of all humankind and the True God are One, sharing one Being out of which flows all virtues and good actions.
We hope that this book will help people to foster within themselves that same unconditional love manifested by all faiths: to love one another and to live in harmony. We pray that the world will attain everlasting peace and stability and that all people in the world will lead happy lives. We also pray that we may put into practice the sacred teachings of the scriptures, elevate ourselves spiritually, and use this spiritual inspiration to work for the benefit of all humankind. This undertaking is to restore religion as an education, to help people lead truly happy and peaceful lives through the sacred wisdom of religion, and nourish the whole world with the true love of God.
In September 2017, the Association of Master Chin Kung's Friends at UNESCO was established at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and I was invited to be the association's permanent honorary chairman. I am very pleased that many UNESCO ambassadors wish to use the Association as a platform for positively contributing to the revival of religious education, for fostering religious cohesion in the world and for realising everlasting peace of human society. God Loves All Beings is the first publication by the Association. We hope that this little book will serve as a catalyst, drawing people's attention to the wisdom of sacred scriptures of all faiths. We look forward to exchanging ideas with the ambassadors and guests over a cup of tea, and studying the excerpts in the book together. We pray that from the sacred texts we may obtain profound inspiration and true wisdom, and learn to practise their teachings in our daily lives. Also, in the office of the Association, we look forward to more practical discussions as to how we might implement religious education to lead today's world to everlasting peace and stability.
During the process of working with and learning from the world faiths in the past decades, we have come to appreciate how much every faith has its own rich religious heritage accumulated over countless generations and embedded in the long history of its native culture. With regard to this vast cultural history, we can only have a very limited understanding. What we know is only a drop in the ocean. Therefore, we pray that in the following years we may earnestly learn from the teachers and followers of all faiths, recognize more precious wisdom, obtain more spiritual inspiration, and learn to see, ever more clearly, the same loving and compassionate God working through them all.
President of the Pure Land Learning College, Australia
Hon. Professor of the University of Queensland and of Griffith University, Australia
Hon. Doctorate of Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic State University, Indonesia