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‘Timeless message of unity’ resonates on holy day celebrating Buddhism, amidst pandemic

“As the human family suffers the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are reminded of the sutra, ‘because all living beings are subject to illness, I am ill as well’”, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday, in his message.

“This timeless message of unity and service to others is more important than ever”, he underscored.” It is only together that we will stop the spread of the coronavirus and recover”.

COVID factor

“We are confronting an enemy that is attacking people indiscriminately everywhere regardless of their religion, belief, race, sex or ethnicity”, Miguel Moratinos, High-Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), said in his message commemorating the day, expressing regret that the usual celebration at UN Headquarters in New York, could not take place.

Paradoxically, global responses to this crisis has been discriminate and disproportionate with many vulnerable communities being “left behind, destitute, deprived and fighting alone for their lives and livelihoods”,  he argued.

“We see people turning inwards instead of reaching out to others. And we see a crisis of solidarity instead of unity”, Mr. Moratinos added.

Sacred teachings

He suggested we draw inspiration from Buddha’s teachings, by using the Day of Vesak as an opportunity to “reflect on the timeless wisdom of Buddha”. 

Born a prince, Buddha devoted himself to overcoming human suffering with a core message of tolerance, empathy and humanism.

“These are virtues that can serve as an inspiration to us all – particularly at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations where we strive each day to build a world of inclusive peace, mutual respect and understanding”, maintained the UNAOC chief.  

In line with Buddha’s teachings on the fundamental equality of all people – regardless of status, circumstances, or characteristics – the UN agency has created a global platform for dialogue across the whole faith spectrum.

Moreover, these same values are enshrined in the UN Charter, with non-discrimination and inclusivity working as fundamental principles for the UN to meet its ambitious goals. 

Let us renew our commitment to stand together as One Humanity — UNAOC chief

They must be reinforced “every day, everywhere”.

‘One humanity’

Former UN Secretary-General U Thant observed that when human beings act with compassion and respect, national and international problems “will fall into perspective and become easier to solve.”

“I believe this is very true”, asserted Mr. Moratinos. “So, on this Day of Vesak, let us renew our commitment to stand together as One Humanity, show kindness and compassion to the most vulnerable and truly leave no one behind as we face those turbulent and difficult times together.”

Day of the Full Moon

“Vesak”, or the Day of the Full Moon celebrated in the month of May, is the most sacred day in the Buddhist calendar, as the millions who follow the teachings of the Buddha and his message of compassion, peace and goodwill, commemorate his birth in the year 623 BC, attainment of enlightenment, and death at the age of 80.

“On the Day of Vesak, let us celebrate Lord Buddha’s wisdom by taking action for others with compassion and solidarity, and by renewing our commitment to build a peaceful world”, concluded the Secretary-General.

UN News/Vibhu Mishra
Buddhist monks meditate at the Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, Nepal.

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