Each year the Australian Catholic University hosts a Parliamentary Interfaith Breakfast which brings together parliamentarians, faith leaders and community leaders from across Australia. In 2021 with continued COVID disruptions they again made the difficult decision to postpone this year’s breakfast. Instead they have published Reflections on Hope and Resilience to highlight the spirit, resilience and hope that each community of faith offers its members and the broader Australian community in this time of hardship and despair for many. The volume features prayers, readings and reflections from 25 faith and community leaders representing 14 different religious traditions including this offering from Buddhist Council of NSW Chair Gawaine Powell Davies on behalf of the Buddhist community.
Buddhism understands that while we usually think of ourselves as individuals, we do not live alone and we are not self-sufficient. Each of us is part of a family, a community, a nation. That first photograph of the earth from space showed us that we belong to the one planet. We are not outside nature, we are part of it, and subject to its laws.
The Buddha also taught that we are also responsible for our choices. Our present misfortune often arises from past foolishness. We are like people who dump their rubbish in the river and then complain when it litters the beach. And whatever we do in the present lays the foundation for our future, for better or for worse.
So where does hope come from in difficult times? It comes from recognising our interdependence, our shared humanity and our place in the community of living beings. It comes from taking responsibility for our actions, cultivating compassion and having the humility to learn from our mistakes. It means seeing others as companions on the road rather than competitors in a race or obstacles to our success.
We cannot always make the right choice, but we can work with others in good faith for the benefit of all. What stronger foundation can we have for our journey into an uncertain future?