Ancient Faith in Modern Times - Blog from being Buddhist video conference
“First ring stop, second ring breathe, third ring smile.” So goes Shantum Seth’s telephone meditation as explained during a recent video conference with four Indian schools concerning the topic of Buddhism in the contemporary world. Students at Unison World, Chettinad Hari Shree Vidyalayam, Apeejay Pitampura, and DAV School Rohini were treated to the insight of a leading Buddhist teacher in this special videoconference for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s Face to Faith program.
After explaining how he went from a travelling shoe salesman to meeting the esteemed Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, Mr. Seth gave a personal reflection on his relationship with Buddhism followed by a succinct description of several major tenets of the faith. His emphasis on our common humanity and on the fact that he believes we all have a “seed of the Buddha within us,” mirrored the common theme of using our skills and faith for the common good.
Listening to Mr. Seth speak is definitely engaging, but the power of these videoconferences rests in the students. Clear and genuine questions from the students led to deeper dialogue among all participants. When asked why Buddhism is practiced in neighbouring countries but rarely in India (the place of its origin), Shantum Seth spoke about this “mystery in history.” He explained how elements of Buddhism were incorporated into the Hindu religion of India while undergoing a process of diffusion through neighbouring regions at the same time. One young man, Shubham, wanted to know more about the Buddhist belief in reincarnation to which Mr. Seth gave a wonderfully simple yet powerful explanation concerning our physical bodies after death. Lakshi from Appeejay Pitampura stated that he doesn’t align himself with any religion but does believe in spiritualism which led to a poignant statement from Shantum Seth that “at the end of the day what we do need is reflection.”
And reflection is precisely what these videoconferences foster in young people around the world participating in the Face to Faith program. Learning about the underpinnings of faith from guests such as Shantum Seth as well as students in classrooms thousands of miles away from each other prepares these young men and women to participate in a world interwoven by various threads of religion. Perhaps the most telling comment of the dialogue came from Vishal, a student at Chettinad Hari Shree Vidyalayam, who stated that Hinduism “can be a convenient religion but it also inspires.” Such comments echo the fact that through these videoconferences students are learning to expand beyond comfortable and convenient notions of their faiths by delving into the inspiring calls to action these faiths offer.
Face to Faith Facilitator