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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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Archbishop’s Dialogue with Buddhist Leaders

Monday 5th March 2012

The Archbishop of Canterbury met with Buddhist leaders at The Buddhist Society’s London headquarters to affirm dialogue between the Christian and Buddhist communities.

Archbishop Rowan was joined on a panel by representatives from a range of Buddhist traditions, Ven Bogoda Seelawimala, Ven Shih Chueh Ru, Geshe Tashi, Rev Prof Kemmyo Taira Sato and Ajahn Amaro.

Ajahn AmaroThe afternoon of dialogue began with a reading of the Karaniya Metta Sutta  (The Discourse on Loving Kindness) which was followed by reflections from the Archbishop  on the importance of the terms wakefulness and watchfulness in early Christian writings. Ajahn Amaro, Abbot of Amaravati Thai Buddhist monastery responded by speaking about listening and heedlessness in the Dhammapada.

Listen to the Archbishop's reflections on the Karaniya Metta Sutta, followed by Ajahn Amaro's response [26mb, 28min]

Geshe TasheAfter a reading of The Heart Sutra, the Archbishop spoke about the Buddhist term 'emptiness' and asked whether parallels could be found with the Christian use of the term kenosis as 'self-emptying'. Geshe Tashe from the Jamyang Tibetan Buddhist Centre responded with a reflection on the relationship of 'emptiness' with the Buddhist theory that everything can be broken down into a stream of cause and effect called 'dependent arising’.

Listen to the Archbishop's reflections on the Heart Sutra, followed by Geshe Tashe's response [24mb, 27min]

Prof Sato, Ven Chueh RuProf Sato contributed to the developing dialogue about the Heart Sutra by outlining the doctrine of the three kayas or bodies of the Buddha from a Japanese Shin Buddhist perspective. Prof Sato drew parallels between the Shin practice of the recitation of the name of the Buddha Amitabha and the Orthodox Christian practice of repeating the Jesus prayer. Following Prof. Sato Ven Shih Chueh Ru from the Fo Gang Chinese Buddhist Centre argued that the true meaning of 'emptiness' could not be known until enlightenment.

Listen to Prof Sato and Ven Chueh Ru's reflections [24mb, 26min]

The Archbishop during the Q&A sessionThe dialogue concluded with questions from the invited audience of Buddhist and Christian guests from all denominations.



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