HISTORY

The World Fellowship of Buddhists

Since the old times Sakyamuni Buddha had his disciples propagate the Teaching of Buddhism, time and changing of the world has flourished practice and understanding of Buddhism into various schools and traditions namely Theravada, Mahayana or Vajrayana and so many sects disseminated from Asia to other continents. Still we are all disciples of one and only, Lord Buddha. Many scholars in the old times realized that it was the time that Buddhism should have unity and amity for sustainability and prosperous of Buddhism. The distinguished Sri Lankan Pali scholar who initiated and propelled this idea and led to establishment of the world organization was Dr. G.P. Malalasekera. The World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) was inaugurated at the Dalada Maligawa, the Holy Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy, Sri Lanka on 25 May B.E. 2493 (1950), a day associated with the Buddhist Vesakha.

Undeterred by customs and practices peculiar to denominations were united in their resolutions to promote and to propagate Buddhism, the Constitution of the World Fellowship of Buddhists which is to serve as operational guidelines was formulated and approved as follows:
Name: The organization shall be known as "The World Fellowship of Buddhists" with "The WFB" as the acronym.

 

Aims and Objectives of the World Fellowship of Buddhists are as follows:

  1. To promote among the members strict observance and practice of the teachings of the Buddha;
  2. To secure unity, solidarity and brotherhood amongst Buddhists;
  3. To propagate the sublime doctrine of the Buddha;
  4. To organize and carry on activities in the field of social, educational, cultural, and other humanitarian services;
  5. To work for securing peace and harmony amongst men and happiness for all beings and to collaborate with other organizations working for the same ends.
Especially, the World Fellowship of Buddhists refrains from involvement directly or indirectly in any political activity.
The WFB Headquarters

At the beginning, it was decided that the WFB Headquarters be located in the country of residence of its president. Since Dr. Malalasekera, a Sri Lankan national, was elected as the first president, the first Headquarters of the World Fellowship of Buddhists was accordingly located in Colombo, Sri Lanka. After eight years of its inception in B.E. 2501 (1958), Hon. U. Chan Htoon, a Myanmar national, was elected to succeed Dr. Malalasekera. The venue was thus shifted to Yangon, Myanmar. In B.E. 2506 (1963), in the wake of the revolution, Hon. U. Chan Htoon formally requested Her Serene Highness Princess Poon Pismai Diskul, who was Vice-President of the WFB at that time, to assume responsibility of the overall running of the WFB throughout his presidency term. Consequently, H.S.H. Princess Poon Pismai Diskul, was unanimously elected as the first Thai President from B.E. 2506 (1963) and the Headquarters was consequently shifted to Bangkok, Thailand. In B.E. 2512 (1969), at the 9th General Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, the meeting resolved to make Bangkok the permanent venue of the Headquarters of the WFB.

Subsequently, in B.E. 2527 (1984), H.E. Professor Sanya Dharmasakti was elected as the President succeeding Her Serene Highness Princess Poon Pismai Diskul. Currently, H.E. Phan Wannamethee, is President of the WFB. He was elected at the 20th WFB General Conference in Australia, B.E. 2541 (1998).

In addition, there is a Board of Directors of the Headquarters which provides advices and suggestions on various missions and activities of the WFB of which names are as follow.

Mr. Phan Wannamethee
President
Lt. Gen. Chalom Wismol
Advisor
Mr. Tej Bunnag
Advisor
Mr. Pradipa Sochiratna
Advisor
Mr. Arun Ngamdee
Member
Mr. Anurut Vongvanij
Member
Mrs. Kanchana Soonsawad
Member
Mrs. Kingkarn Arakputhanan
Member
Mr. Chirasak Thanesnant
Member
Dr. Thakur Phanit
Member
Dr. Thanes Sucharikul
Member
Mr. Samarn Naruemityarn
Member
Mrs. Patcharin Vongsiridej
Member
Mr. Phallop Thaiarry
Member
  • Mission
  • Organization
  • The Headquarters Activities

The WFB missions are propagation of Buddhism, promotion of solidarity and unity of Buddhists all over the world. At present, there are over 180 WFB Regional Centres in 50 countries distributed geographically worldwide. Each centre actively propagates Buddhism.

These organizations are more or less responsible for disseminate and practice of the Dhamma which have been approved by the WFB as Regional Centres for carrying on various activities based on propagation and practice of the Dhamma for securing peace and happiness of humankind.

The function of the WFB is to provide the operational guidelines based on the resolutions of the General Conference and to co-ordinate with the Regional Centres throughout the world. The General Conference is held every two years and invitations are extended to all Regional Centres to send delegates to exchange views, opinions and share experiences. Through such modus operandi, the WFB expect to strengthen solidarity and unity among all the World Buddhists.

In order to achieve its Aims and Objectives, the WFB has established ways and means defined in its Constitution as follows :

  1. The General Conference is the highest decision-making body to formulate strategies and policies for the Headquarters and Regional Centres throughout the world.
  2. The General Council is the administrative body for controlling the assets and funds of the WFB. The General Council is also responsible for holding elections to select committee members and personnel. It also sets the rules and procedures to be followed at the meetings of WFB organs.
  3. The Executive Council monitors and offers advice for administering the WFB, based on the resolutions of the General Conference. The WFB President serves as the Chairperson of the Executive Council. The Executive Council holds regular meetings every six months in order to monitor and evaluate the operation of the WFB.
  4. The Standing Committee is responsible for implementing decision determined by the General Council. At present, there are altogether 11 Standing Committees namely: 1. Finance Committee; 2. Publication, Publicity, Education, Culture and Art Committee; 3.Dhammaduta Activities Committee: 4. Humanitarian Services Committee; 5. Unity and Solidarity Committee; 6. Youth Committee; 7. Socio-Economic Development Committee; 8. Women Committee; 9. Buddhist Pancasila Samadana Committee; 10. Environment Committee; 11. Interfaith Dialogue Committee.

 

Furthermore, three organizations under WFB are established to promote and coordinate Buddhist activities as follows :
The World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth was established at the 10th WFB General Conference in Sri Lanka, in B.E. 2515 (1972). It encourages youth to observe Buddhist precepts and to practice Dhamma as well as creates peace and harmony among youth.

The World Buddhist University was established at the 20th WFB General Conference in Australia, in B.E. 2541 (1998). It serves as a linkage between universities and educational institutes throughout the world. The WBU focuses its areas of activities on research and development; training and curriculum development; spiritual practice and educational development based on Buddhism.

Liaison Unit of UNESCO and Other UN Organizations is in charge of coordinating activities which promote education, science and culture.

 

In addition, the Buddhists in Thailand have set up three foundations to support Buddhist activities. They are:

  1. The Foundation in Support of Foreign Buddhist Monks of the WFB was established on 1 February B.E. 2515 (1972) to support overseas Buddhist monks and novices to further studies Buddhism in Thailand.
  2. The Foundation for the Support of Buddhistic Knowledge Exchange Programme in Honour of H.M. King Bhumibol The Great was established in commemoration of the 60th birthday of H.M. the King on 5 December B.E. 2530 (1987). Its main responsibility is to assist of setting up activities for the exchange of Buddhist knowledge.
  3. The Foundation for the Support of the WFB Activities was organized on 7 August B.E. 2535 (1992) to promote and support the WFB activities.

 

Apart from coordinating programmes with its Regional Centres; the Headquarters, in cooperation with the three foundations, organizes Buddhist activities throughout the year. The main activities are as follows:

  1. First Sunday of the Month Programme offers Discussion of Abhidhamma in Thai language in the morning and Dhamma talk and meditation class in English in the afternoon;
  2. Third Sunday of the Month Programme offers Abhidhamma Studies for better understanding in conducting way of life;
  3. Last Sunday of the Month Programme offers Discussion of Abhidhamma in the morning and Dhamma talk by distinguished guest speakers in Thai language.


There are also other interesting programmes for propagation of Buddhism including publications of quarterly WFB Review and a Guide to Buddhist Monasteries and Meditation Centres in Thailand and so forth.