The Roerich Bira Foundation is currently planning its first international conference for this coming June. The topic is “Tenggerism and a New Culture of Development.” Tenggerism will be quite unfamiliar to non-Mongolians. During the time of the Mongolian Empire, Tenggerism functioned as a comprehensive belief system that took into account all spheres of human necessity: spiritual, economic, environmental and political. It was a system under which all faiths were reconciled and by which the State administered to the needs of the people, promoting goodwill, cohesion and development. Its foundational schema is simple and profound: three elements–Earth, Sky and Human Being–coexist in harmonic balance.
This balance guides every aspect of human life. Under Tenggerism, our regard for Mother Earth, our reliance on wisdom and law, and our interactions with one another are guided by this principle of Triadic Balance. In this way, the dignity of life is maintained and promulgated; the sacredness is never decoupled from the necessities of survival; and the well-being of the individual is the intrinsic concern of the society and vice versa. While this belief system draws from pre-historical nomadic sources rooted in Mongolian and Turkic traditions, it presents itself now as eminently modern. Its globalist perspective and holistic philosophical framework lends itself particularly well to the issues our planet now faces with regard to our environment, our economic and political governance, and our interpersonal and intrapersonal modes. In short: the way we regard ourselves and one another, the way our social world is administered, and the way we interact with our planet are taken as a whole under Tenggerism. And in this regard, Tenggerism merges quite naturally with the current understanding of development, which recognizes that true development can only occur when all these concerns are taken into account.
The celebrated work of Dr. Shagdaryn Bira elaborates the Tenggerist vision and elucidates its historical context. However, Dr. Bira, himself a capable visionary, is also keen to point out the urgent relevance of Tenggerism to the current global situation. His philosophical brilliance, exhaustive historical research and his visionary aspect earned him the coveted Denis Sinor Medal in 2002. But Dr. Bira has never been one to rest on his laurels. He has always intended that the message of his life’s work should reverberate in the sphere of general human discourse and provide illumination to our evolutionary path. And it is with faith in his vision and in the utmost confidence in his cultural contributions that we will present our June conference. The fact that it will be an international conference signals our understanding that any serious approach to the subject of development cannot fail to be international in scope. Interdependence, long regarded as the lynchpin of human society, has never resonated as a concept quite so powerfully. And never before has it been clearer that a serious development program must take into account the value of every individual and the importance of every aspect of human concern. Development is an evolutionary principle inherent in human culture. It is a natural and vital process that expresses our need to find solutions and to expand our possibilities. As a process, it is too all-encompassing to be institutionalized, although many aspects may be served in various institutional settings. At the essential level, development is a mindset, which, when inculcated in as many individuals as possible, produces the greatest results for the social order.
It is of paramount importance to the Foundation that this conference lead to direct action on multiple fronts. We do not seek merely to gratify esoteric cravings or engage in empty theory. The essence of our conference is action. The essence of Tenggerism is life and in the continual observation that the requirements of life are best kept sacred by meeting them in a timely and balanced fashion. Tenggerism is a call to action and an unshakeable understanding that best practices are always to be preferred. In a sense, Tenggerism and development are nearly synonymous. Our list of speakers reflects our guiding commitment to producing clear results. From Korea, we will bring Prof. Kim Moon-Hwan, former president of Kookmin University in Seoul. In addition to being an influential academic, Prof. Kim has been a key exponent in South Korea’s development over the past several decades. His expertise is directly applicable to Mongolia’s present situation and his insights into the realities of development have global resonance. We will undoubtedly learn much of value from Prof. Kim. From Santa Clara University School of Law in the US, we will bring my father Prof. Philip J. Jimenez who has run a successful study-abroad program for nearly forty years. His global perspective makes him uniquely qualified to consider the future of the international legal order. As we enter a new era of globalism, one that is clearly evolving from a kind of hierarchy of regions to become a truly universal system, Prof. Jimenez’ observations will prove extremely useful. From Austria, we will bring Karl von Habsburg whose record of humanitarian service exemplifies action. His passionate commitment to the cause of culture and to the cause of the downtrodden and the underrepresented will add the clarion notes to our development chorus. To hear him speak is to be moved to serve the human cause. From Moscow, we will bring Dr. Viktor Frolov, who heads the scientific research wing of the International Centre of the Roerichs. Dr. Frolov will emphasize the promise of vigorous and unfettered scientific activity in the development of human society. From Tokyo, we will bring Prof. Yasuhei Taniguchi, whose was a founding member of appellate body of the World Trade Organization. Prof. Taniguchi’s deeply humanist perspective on the role of justice in the area of global trade makes him a person of great interest to Mongolian jurists. In October of 2013, we brought him to speak at the Mongolian National Legal Institute where he was very well-received. At that same seminar was his colleague Prof. Mitsubishi Matsushita, also of the WTO. Prof. Matsushita is himself a brilliant lecturer and we hope that he will join us in June as well.
The list is, at present, incomplete. I should like very much to bring development experts from China. That is, in fact, my must immediate and pressing task as Secretary-General. The new regional mood of friendship and cooperation should be reflected faithfully in our program. I am also hoping that Karl von Habsburg might help me contact potential speakers from Africa to come and offer their advice and share their experience. Through Daniel Entin, head of the Roerich Museum in New York, I am hoping to connect with potential lecturers in Latin America. There is much to be done in preparation for our conference. But so much has already come together that I am personally astounded. We are expecting Mongolian President Elbegdorj to deliver the introductory remarks! His interest and considerable knowledge of Tenggerism and his deep respect for Dr. Bira will inform what will be undoubtedly a memorable address. We are also most grateful to the Mongolian government for the use of the Parliament Building.
It is our intention to produce a conference that will be of great interest to Mongolians who are now very engaged in the topics we will cover. But a central aspect of the Foundation is internationalism and so it is our intention to resonate regionally and globally in our activities. Additionally, it has been my aim from the beginning to bring world attention to Mongolia, a country that has given me so much. Mongolia has much more to offer than minerals. It has deep philosophical, political, spiritual and intellectual reserves which will add much to human progress. In making such a contribution, Mongolia will simultaneously invigorate its own development and the development of the planet. We are very excited for this upcoming conference and we welcome any and all voices of goodwill who seek likewise to advance the cause of development. By definition, development is all-embracing and truly leaves no one behind.