Global peace, sustainability and the Buddha

By Staff reporters   May 12, 2019 | 04:14 am PT
Global peace, sustainability and the Buddha
Thousands of leaders of different Buddhist groups, monks, heads of state and Buddhist followers join the UN Day of Vesak 2019, which is held on May 12-14 at Tam Chuc Pagoda in Ha Nam in northern Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
The Buddhist approach to peace and sustainable development was highlighted Sunday as the UN Day of Vesak celebrations began in Vietnam.

The UN Day of Vesak commemorating the birth of the Buddha opened at the Tam Chuc Pagoda in Ha Nam Province in northern Vietnam, gathering 1,600 international participants.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Thich Pho Tue, Supreme Patriarch of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha, said Vesak 2019 was a chance to uphold values that the Buddha bequeathed for humanity, including compassion, selflessness and non-violence.

He noted that Buddhism has a history of 2,000 years in Vietnam and has become the foundation for the thoughts and ethics of Vietnamese people.

When the values of Buddhism are upheld, a nation and its people prosper, he said, calling for participants to work together to "offer the most basic solutions that come from their souls to successfully implement the global sustainable development goal that the UN aims for."

"The Buddhist approach of Dhamma (righteous behavior) and emphasis on Pragnya (wisdom), Karuna (compassion) and Maitri (camaraderie) as well as the reduction of Trishna (greed) offers a set of building blocks for the architecture of a new world order where violence and conflict are minimized and development takes place without degrading natural resources," said Indian Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, delivering the keynote address.

Citing the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said: "There is a clear recognition that ‘there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.’ So it is quite apt that we are discussing global leadership and sustainable development today as we celebrate UN Vesak Day," Naidu said.

Thich Thien Nhon, head of Vietnam Buddhist Sangha's executive council, said the path that combines compassion and wisdom that the Buddha has showed humanity is still the truth and the guiding principle that brings meaning to the lives of millions of people around the world.

The world is now facing conflict, terrorism, wars, inequality and environmental crises. When the rapid development of science and technology has changed every aspect of social life and traditional structures, it is much more important and necessary to promote the core values of Buddhism, which is the spirit of tolerance, selflessness, harmony and peace, he said.

He called for Buddhist followers around the world to unite, share solutions and take specific actions to cope with the challenges of the modern age.

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said that the event, which will last until Tuesday, was an opportunity for each person to find inner peace and reflect on the teachings of the Buddha.

"We should commemorate and honor the Buddha, think about the truth of peace, the spirit of tolerance, compassion, and apply that truth in our daily life to resolve conflicts, and contribute to helping each nation and people," he said.

Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli also noted that the ultimate goal of Buddhism was to achieve a harmonious society based on justice, friendship and peaceful symbiosis.

The world is more wealthy now, but one-fifth of the global population is still extremely poor, UN development goals are facing many challenges, the environment is increasingly polluted and terrorism continues to happen, threatening peace and social order.

Amidst all this, the concept of balance in Buddhism is increasingly affirming its value, he said.

The Buddha’s message emphasizes the balance of people and nature, matter and spirit, present and future, and Buddhism does not support greed, anger and ignorance, and this is the cause of the world crises, he said, adding that absolute peace can be attained if all people are determined to do so.

In his message for Vesak 2019 earlier this month, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: "In a time of growing intolerance and inequality, the Buddha’s message of non-violence and service to others is more relevant than ever. On the Day of Vesak, let us renew our commitment to building a world of peace and dignity for all."

This is the third time the UN's commemoration of Vesak is being held in Vietnam after 2008 and 2014.

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