Message For Vesak 2011

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Buddhist Calendar Year 2555 Number: TDPD/VTT

MESSAGE FOR VESAK BUDDHIST CALENDAR YEAR 2555

by the Most Senior Venerable Thich Quang Do

Acting President of the Institute of the Sangha,

and President of the Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma,

The Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV).

Namo Sakyamuni Buddha.

Dear Venerables,

Dear fellow Buddhists,

On behalf of the Venerables and Elders in the Bi-Institutional Council, I respectfully express the most heartfelt wishes to the Most Senior Venerables, Most Venerabbles, Venerables, Monks and Nuns and fellow Buddhists at home and abroad in the occasion of the Buddha’s birthday and channeling our desires to disperse Dharma to benefit sentient beings, to change the possibility, and to accomplish Buddhist activities.

This year’s Vesak carries 2 important international and mankind meanings. These 2 meanings came from a big forum for all member States in the world, the United Nations (UN). In this year’s Message for Vesak addressed to the 8th UN Vesak in Thailand with the theme “Social and Economic Development”, the UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon wrote:

This year’s theme of socio-economic development may sound modern, but its core is the very problem of human suffering that Siddhartha Gautama sought to address more than 2,500 years ago when he left his palace, relinquished his worldly possessions and went out into the world. (…) His injunction against the three poisons of greed, anger and ignorance is especially relevant to multilateral efforts to overcome the hunger that needlessly affects nearly a billion people in a world of plenty, the brutal violence that takes millions of lives each year, and the senseless environmental damage that humans cause to our only home, the planet Earth. Numerous Buddhist organizations are putting these teachings into practice.  I am deeply grateful for their support for United Nations activities to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, our blueprint for enabling all people to enjoy lives of dignity and opportunity.”

The first important meaning that we can see, is during global ideological and political crises represented by totalitarian and terrorizing regimes, the UN has recognized that it is Buddhist teaching of compassion, harmony, and peace is mankind’s life saver.

The second meaning, also as important as the first one, especially to people with religions in Vietnam, is that this year the UN celebrates the 30th anniversary of the “Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief”. More than anyone in this country, Vietnamese Buddhists have been immediate victims of the loss of religious freedom and human rights throughout the long 36 years.

In the past 2000 years of Vietnamese history, when facing with tragedies, foreign invasions, and social inequalities, Buddhists participated in finding the resolution with the accordance of righteous regimes who cared for their countrymen. Today, however, that accordance has been lost to the international ideological struggle that has permeated in the minds of Vietnamese. That was why for the first time in history, Vietnamese Buddhists had to organize protests in the 60s to protect Eastern moral ideals facing aggressive attacks from foreign-influenced ideologies that plagued society and people. That struggle and campaign continues today, at the beginning of the 21st century, as the imposing of foreign-influenced ideology is still present in our country, causing families separated, economy wretched, and society miserable. Buddhist religious ideals in this campaign ask for improvements of policies that are only present on paper and arbitrary laws, which in reality do not bring about prosperity, happiness, and freedom to all people.

Buddhist religious ideals are premises for the ideal of social equality represented by the culture, economy, and politics. There has never been anti-societal elements in Buddhist scripture, therefore Buddhists always respect and take on the protection of mankind, protest against social injustice and inequality which are original causes for the abuse of honest people’s rights to live; for the prevention of the wish to practice and cultivate to advance spiritually; block the practice of Compassion, Empathy, Wisdom, and Courage according to the Boddhisatva’s wish to help life; obstruct the Enlightenment progress which is the ultimate goal in Buddhism.

From the principle of applying dharma to help the sufferings, Vietnamese Buddhism has developed various positive factors in the commitment to protect the people and country. Vietnamese Buddhism’s history, embedded within the national history of more than 2000 years, has proved numerous times that SUPPORT THE PEOPLE, SECURE THE NATION, and SAFEGUARD DHARMA intertwine with one another in being a guiding light in Vietnamese Buddhists’ ways of life and activities.

The house of Vietnam has been suffering 100 years of foreign invasion, 60 years of civil wars and then totalitarian monopoly. It is time for Buddhists not to stand aside and watch indifferently or to blame fate, waiting for the next life; it is time for Buddhists to stand up and follow the example of King Asoka to abandon the path of violence and develop compassion and empathy, develop wisdom, and continue the Buddha’s path established 2555 years ago.

In doing so, we are truly commemorate and repay the Buddha during this year’s Vesak.

Namo Sakyamuni Buddha.

Thanh Minh Zen Monastery, Vesak 2555

Gregorian Calendar Year 2011.

Acting President of the Institute of the Sangha,

and President of the Institute for the Dissemination of Dharma, UBCV.

(Signed and Sealed)

Sramana Thich Quang Do