The First International Buddhist College Buddhist Studies Conference was held at Than Hsiang Temple from Friday, 11 th to Sunday, 13 th August 2006. More than two hundred and fifty people participated in this Conference, the theme of which was “Aspects of Buddhist Studies”.
On Friday, 11 th August 2006, an Opening and Welcoming Banquet was held at the Multi Purpose Hall in Level 5 of Than Hsiang Temple. Venerable Wei Wu, the Abbot of Than Hsiang Temple and Council Chairman of the International Buddhist College, welcomed everyone to the banquet. The Guest of Honour, Yang Berhormat Datuk Tan Chai Ho, Deputy Home Affairs Minister of Malaysia, then declared the Conference open in his speech. Professor C. F. Lee, JP of Tung Lin Kok Yuen and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong was next to speak as co-sponsor of the Conference. Venerable Dr. K. L. Dhammajoti, the Vice-Rector of the International Buddhist College, next took the floor to talk on the Conference.
After the Banquet, a documentary “Gate of Sweet Nectar: Feeding Hungry Spirits in an American Zen Community” by Professor Peter Gregory (Smith College) was shown to the public. It was interesting to note how the Hungry Ghost Festival here deferred from the more ritualistic approach adopted by the Zen community in Los Angeles, USA.
During the Conference, a total of seven panels were held in which twenty-three speakers presented their papers. The subjects of these papers ranged from Sera, one of Tibet's great monasteries, to the Bodhisattva Dizang to Buddhist Hymns in Theravada Buddhism in Nepal. The papers presented truly covered all “Aspects of Buddhist Studies”, the theme of the Conference.
This was the first time a conference of this nature had been organised and held in Than Hsiang Temple. Even then, it can be said that the Conference was a resounding success. This was mainly due to a core group of volunteers who helped plan, took leave, and worked real hard at bringing the Conference to fruition. Maha Sadhu to their unstinting and selfless efforts! Thanks are also due to all the staff of Than Hsiang Temple who had helped in one way or another behind the scene.
It had been decided that the International Buddhist College would hold such conferences annually. It was announced that the 2007 conference would be held in July in Malaysia. We can surely look to a better conference next year!