At 8:30 a.m. on June 26, 2017, the opening ceremony of the Buddhist Studies Center at Dunhuang Research Academy took place at Mogao Caves. Xudong Wang, Director of the Dunhuang Research Academy, Ven. Fabao, Vice President of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, and Ven.Dr. Yifa, the founder and President of Woodenfish Foundation attended the ceremony and delivered speeches. Angela F. Howard, Honorary Professor at Rutgers University and an expert in East Asian cultures as well as Buddhist art, Professor Siyan Jin—Dean of Eastern Studies from University of Artois in France, student participants from twelve countries, and supervisors and staff of the Dunhuang Research Academy participated in the opening ceremony with the Deputy Director of the Academy, Dr. Shengliang Zhao as the host of the ceremony.and art. “I believe that the Buddhist Studies Center can meet everyone’s hopes and become a significant international Buddhist studies centre.”
In his speech, Director Wang mentioned that the power of Buddhism enables the continuation of the legacy of Mogao Caves. “We should not only be content with appreciating these exquisite wall paintings and colorful statues but should also demonstrate the humanitarian spirit beneath the art; nor should we be simply content with the art forms, but we should uncover their profound Buddhist messages to contribute to world peace and cultural diversity. The Buddhist Studies Center is more than just a platform. We hope it can be a network connecting the international Buddhist scholar community and the monastic community of practitioners. We hope that the scholars of the Dunhuang Research Academy can retain an open mind and combine our own research and Buddhist studies with other cultural studies. We sincerely hope that the Dunhuang Buddhist Studies Center can connect Dunhuang with the rest of the world, and studies of Dunhuang with worldwide studies in the humanities will contribute to the protection, research, inheritence and promotion of the cultural heritage of mankind.
Ven. Fabao, UN Peace Ambassador and the Vice President of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, first expressed his congratulations for the establishment of the Dunhuang Buddhist Studies Centre and indicated that on a global stage, Buddhism has awaited this moment for a long time. The Buddhist Studies Centre will open a door for scholars around the world, especially for young scholars and peace promoters who wish to learn more about the Dunhuang culture, Buddhist philosophy and peace ideologies. He said, “I am certain that the newly established Dunhuang Buddhist Studies Centre will continue the tradition and will become a world-class Buddhist study centre in the future. Through the center, scholars may use their talent, distribute their knowledge and at the same time, become the messengers for world peace and contribute to the great task of harmonizing the human race.”
The founder Woodfish Foundation, Ven. Dr. Yifa gave an introduction on the cooperation between her foundation and the Dunhuang Research Academy. Since 2015, with the efforts from both parties, more and more of the world’s leading Buddhist researchers and professors have come to Dunhuang and have made great progress. She specifies that the Dunhuang Research Academy is able to bring Dunhuang, which is already world famous, to a higher platform of global humanities
Later, Xudong Wang, Shengliang Zhao, Ven. Fabao and Dr. Yifa together performed the unveiling ceremony for the Dunhuang Buddhist Studies Centre. Shuping Wang, Director of Dunhuang Zhengjue Scripture Academy endowed a thirteen-meter-long copy of the Diamond Sutra to the newly established Dunhuang Buddhist Studies centre. On behalf of the Chief of the Dunhuang Buddhist Studies Centre, Zhuofen Li, Shengliang Zhao expressed thanks to everyone and introduced the responsibilities and functions of the Dunhuang Buddhist Studies Centre. Later that afternoon, Director and Deputy Director of the Dunhuang Research Academy, Xudong Wang and Shengliang Zhao, together with Dr. Yifa reflected upon the first Woodenfish-Dunhuang Research Conference and proposed some preliminary ideas for the next research conference based on the feedback of the speakers and the participants. They also discussed the future development plan of the Dunhuang Buddhist Studies Centre.