On 19 October 2020, an “IBHAP Foundation show” was staged by Ven. Napan Santibhaddo, Chair of Institute of Buddhist Management for Happiness and Peace (IBHAP) Foundation and Assistant Abbot of Wat Saket. The show was joined by four committee members of the Foundation. The team were there to conduct a seminar titled “Mahamakut Buddhist University (MBU) as a glocal Buddhist University: Think globally and act locally for SDGs together. This was part of an orientation for MBU new hires. According to the MBU draft development plan, one of its missions is to turn the University into an International Buddhist University, providing an opportunity for people of all races and beliefs to learn and apply the Buddha’s teachings in a holistic way.
How many of us really understand what “SDGs” have got to do with our lives? SDGs stands for Sustainable Development Goals which were set by the UN to be achieved by all nations by 2030. The seminar aimed to familiarise the audience with SDGs and more importantly how MBU can become a ‘glocal’ Buddhist university with SDGs in mind.
Ven. Napan kicked off by saying that the seminar would focus on attitude, not knowledge, as the latter could easily be found elsewhere. He then defined the word ‘glocal’ in his unique way – going global while maintaining local wisdom, namely Buddhism – followed by a very delicious and spicy example of McDonald’s krapao gai grob (basil fried chicken) which is available in Thailand only. This is what being global while integrating local wisdom means.
The second required attitude which will help fulfil the MBU mission is the “2S” – Strategy and Synergy. Many of us might have heard the saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” (It is often cited as an African proverb but it’s doubtful whether it actually is!) In this context, MBU has to align its strategy with SDGs and create synergy with other organisations.
The fact that Ven. Napan ordained as a novice at 11 and received education, principally Pali Studies, from a temple in a rural area of Thailand makes his vision and passion remarkable. He has always been very keen on improving his English in order to propagate the Buddha’s teachings. He was the first Buddhist monk in Thailand who received the prestigious Chevening scholarship from the UK government to study for a Master in the UK. In addition, he was invited to speak at the European Paliament for its first cerebration of the Vesak day on the topic of “Buddha Day and SDGs: from individual’s inner peace to peaceful society”.
Currently, there are nearly 300,000 Buddhist monks in Thailand but the number of those who can convey the Buddha’s teachings in English is evidently insufficient. This is the reason Ven. Napan has been constantly encouraging and motivating other monks to improve their English proficiency. With this conviction, “English for Peace of Mind by IBHAP” has been initiated as a flagship free-for-all English learning project based on the “2S” approach – a strategy to create synergy between English knowledge and the knowledge of Buddhism. To complete the circle of “2S”, special classes on SDGs and “Talk for Peace” have also been organised weekly and open to the public. In the process, multiple networks of monks and laypeople as well as volunteer teachers, both Thais and native speakers, and learners have been formed with a common aim of doing good deeds for society.
The first cohort of “English for Peace of Mind by IBHAP” has finished with remarkable outcomes and the second cohort will begin soon. Anybody is welcome to join either as leaners or volunteer teachers.
The entire “IBHAP Foundation Show” lasted for five hours. So this report has covered only a rather extensive introductory part of it. Stay tune for part 2!
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