The World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) is an international Buddhist organization. WFB was founded by representatives from 27 nations in 1950 in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Although Theravada Buddhists are most influential in the organization, (its headquarters is in Thailand and all of its presidents, so far, have been from Sri Lanka or Southeast Asia), members of all Buddhist schools are active in the WFB. Presently, WFB has regional centres in 35 countries, including India, USA, Australia, and several nations of Africa and Europe, in addition to traditional Buddhist countries. WFB is established with a purpose to promote various exchanges and friendship among Buddhists in the world to spread the noble teachings of Buddha and contribute to the World peace. The headquarters is located at Bangkok, Thailand, and its affiliate members are 170 regional centers from various countries throughout the world.
Since the establishment of WFB, the General Conference, the highest decision-making function, has been held every two to three years, and it reviews its organizations and activities and decides the agendas and schedules of activities for the future.
The aims and objectives of the World Fellowship of Buddhists:
- To promote among the members strict observance and practice of the teachings of the Buddha.
- To secure unity, solidarity, and brotherhood amongst Buddhists.
- To propagate the sublime doctrine of the Buddha.
- To organize and carry on activities in the field of social, educational, cultural and other humanitarian services.
- To work for happiness, harmony and peace on earth and to collaborate with other organizations working for the same ends.
In order to achieve its Aims and Objectives, the World Fellowship of Buddhists shall :-
- Establish Regional Centres in countries, territories, or areas where there are appreciable numbers of Buddhists, whose belief in and practice of Buddhism are free and unrestricted, or give recognition to any existing organizations as Regional Centres;
- Establish and maintain Dhamma-duta Centres throughout the world for the purpose of disseminating the teachings of the Buddha, promoting and encouraging practice and observance of the teachings of the Buddha;
- Establish and maintain, or assist in the establishment and maintenance of, such institutions as may be necessary for the study and propagation of Buddhism;
- Stimulate and promote active practice and observance of the principles of Buddhism;
- Organize and maintain, or assist in the organization and maintenance of, institutions for social, educational, cultural, and other humanitarian services;
- Act as a directing and coordinating authority amongst international Dhamma-duta Centres;
- Organize and promote exchange of missions, scholars and students between Buddhist countries; and
- Take such other steps as will be conductive to the promotion of its Aims and Objectives.
Currently, Mr. Phan Wannamethee, the Thai Red Cross Society Secretary-General, is President of the WFB. He was elected at the 20th WFB General Conference held in Australia, B.E. 2541 (1998).
WFB Conference in 2014
Hundreds of the world’s Buddhists gathered at an ancient temple in Fufeng County, Baoji City in Shaanxi Province, Northwest China’s on 16th October 2014 to mark the opening of the World Fellowship of Buddhists 27th general conference. Congregating around a relic containing Gautama Buddha’s finger bones from the physical body at Famen Temple in Baoji City, Buddhist from all over the world attended the conference. More than 4000 people, including senior Buddhists Monks, domestic and foreign distinguished guests, and all sorts of Buddhist practitioners from about 30 countries — including the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal and India, as well as the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan — took part in the grand event to promote Buddhism around the world. More than 30 themed meetings and 14 activities took place during the five-day conference on the development and dissemination of Buddhist culture. The Conference ended on the 20th October 2014.
Buddhist leaders at the opening ceremony included Hon. Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, the 11th Panchen Lama, and Hon. Nichiyu Mochida, Chief Abbot of Japan’s Sogen-ji Temple.
This is the first time Bangkok-headquartered WFB has held its general conference in the Chinese mainland. The event was organized by the WFB jointly with Buddhist Association of China and Shaanxi Province.
The opening ceremony focused on goodwill and charity. Master Chuanyin, president of the Buddhist Association of China (BAC), said that “The event is a milestone for friendship between the BAC and the WFB. It will help Chinese Buddhists play a bigger role internationally”. He hoped that the event will boost Buddhists’ cooperation and exchange on promoting Buddhism so as to make greater contributions to the benefit of mankind and world peace. The last conference of WFB was held in Yeosu City in the Republic of Korea on June, 2012.
Following resolutions were passed unanimously at 27th WFB General Conference:-
- To appeal to the world community to strengthen their ongoing engagements in humanitarian and social welfare development, in order to reduce social inequality and poverty.
- To pursue and establish peaceful and harmonious society through applying the teachings of the Buddha.
- To promote inter-religious and inter-cultural understanding through dialogues to reduce mistrust and misunderstanding among the communities.
- To urge all Buddhists to contribute to environmental sustainability through the mindful reduction of greed and through practicing green-consumption in their daily life.
- To urge world communities to maintain respect of human values in order to uphold equality of human beings.
- To encourage promotion of spiritual and religious practice irrespective of cultural or social backgrounds.
- To work for the preservation of intangible and tangible Buddhist cultural heritages which are in danger in different parts of the world.
- To promote moral and ethical education among Buddhist youth to support them to be humane and responsible global citizens.
- To appeal to the international community to sustain their ongoing effort to provide educational and professional opportunities to underprivileged women to improve their quality of life.
- To provide education and skill development to impoverished communities to help improve their economic and social circumstances.
Published in Issue VI, May 2015