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Buddhism can help nations tackle pressing challenges: UN Chief

Vesak Day celebration in Bodhgaya

United Nations : In current times of hateful rhetoric aimed at dividing communities and violent conflicts, the Buddhist teachings of compassion and non-violence can help the international community tackle pressing challenges, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said in his message on the Day of Vesak.

The UN Secretary General said the teachings of Lord Buddha have been a “great source of wisdom” in his life and he has been “fortunate” to learn them through his family since his mother is a devout Buddhist.

“At this time of mass population movements, violent conflicts, atrocious human rights abuses and hateful rhetoric aimed at dividing communities, the sacred commemoration of the Day of Vesak offers an invaluable opportunity to reflect on how the teachings of Buddhism can help the international community tackle pressing challenges,” Ban said.

He said Buddhism teaches the world the law of love and compassion for all living beings and the challenge is to apply Buddha’s wisdom to the “real problems in our world today.”

Ban underscored that the International Day of Vesak is a reminder to practice compassion for all people, including reaching out across religious divides, rejecting bigotry and embracing all people equally.

India, along with 13 other nations, commemorated Vesak at a special event yesterday in the UN General Assembly hall attended by monks and diplomats.

“Buddhism teaches that all people are interconnected. We must face global problems together. Poverty, displacement, disasters, diseases, conflict and climate change all transcend national borders,” Ban said.

He called on the international community to use the occasion of Vesak to reach out to bridge differences, foster a sense of belonging and show compassion on a global scale for the sake of the common future.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said Buddha’s key messages of truth, non-violence and peace continue to be relevant and resonate across distant lands even today.

“Modern world continues to be beset with great human suffering, deepening inequalities, violent conflicts and environmental degradation. The teachings of Buddha about harmony with inner self and with nature of which we all are part of, hold great promise to enlighten people and alleviate the suffering in societies,” Akbaruddin said.

He stressed that the landmark recognition of the need to pursue a collective global sustainable development agenda in the form of SDGs and a similar spirit of understanding and cooperation for common good, shown in the conclusion of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change also has “strands of ancient wisdom of our traditions including that embodied in Buddhism.”

Vesak, the day of the Full Moon in the month of May, is the most sacred day to millions of Buddhists around the world. It was on the Day of Vesak two and a half millennia ago that the Buddha was born, when he attained enlightenment and when he passed away in his 80th year.

The General Assembly had passed a resolution in 1999 to commemorate the Day of Vesak to acknowledge the contribution that Buddhism has made for over two and a half millennia and continues to make to the spirituality of humanity.

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