Due to the impact of the lectures that I gave at Mahachulalongkorn University, Koen Kaen and Roi Et campuses, I was very lucky to be invited to participate in the Fourth Annual International Buddhist Conference, held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok on May 26-29. Mahachulalongkorn University and the United Nations were the chief sponsors of this conference. With over a thousand people in attendance, there were only six Americans present, and I was honored to be one of those six.
THE OPENING DAY of the conference was held at Buddhamonthon, a giant center for Buddhism in Nakhon Pathom just west of Bangkok. Ninety-five percent of Thai people are Buddhist (and most of the rest are Muslims who live in the extreme south of Thailand near the Malaysian border). The Thai government pays for this center and has offered it as a base for international Buddhist organizations. Delegates came from over sixty nations. Ultimately, I talked with delegates from all the nations of Asia (from India and Nepal in the west, to Indonesia in the south, and to Korea and Japan in the east). But beyond this historically core area of Buddhism, it was fascinating to talk with Buddhists from places as diverse as the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland), Europe (England, France, Germany, Italy, Hungry, Serbia, Croatia, Russia, Ukraine), as well as Israel, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand.