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Buddha’s teachings significant in troubled times: UN Chief - Vesak messages

The Sunday Times, May 18, 2008

New York -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his Vesak Day message said the Buddha’s timeless teachings of peace, compassion and love for all living beings should inspire the efforts to address the broader challenges confronting our world -- in peace and security, in development and in the protection of our environment.

<< UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

“In these areas, we have to rise above our perceived narrow self-interests, and think and act as members of one global community. This is the path to enlightenment, and it is the foundation of a better world for all,” he said.

The Secretary General recalled that this year, the observance of Vesak falls at a time of profound loss.“Cyclone ‘Nargis’ has devastated Myanmar, while a massive earthquake has ripped through southwest China. Both natural disasters have resulted in untold suffering -- tens of thousands have died; many more have lost their families, homes and livelihoods,” the UN Secretary General said.

He said that in the shadow of these enormous tragedies, the Buddha’s message of peace, compassion and love for all living beings brings added urgency.

“It tells us to open our hearts and embrace our fellow human beings, especially those in need. It asks us to recognize our essential oneness, and to place the well-being of our communities and of all humanity at par with our own,” he said.

The Secretary General added that these timeless teachings must guide the international community’s response to the situation in Myanmar.


The UN Secretary-General's Vesak Day message 2008

UN Secretary-General Ban ki-moonThe Day of Vesak is a joyous occasion marking the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha. On this day millions of people, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, take time to reflect on the life and teachings of the Buddha, and to receive guidance from them.

This year, the observance of Vesak falls at a time of profound and painful loss. Cyclone Nargis has devastated Myanmar, while a massive earthquake has ripped through Southwest China. Both natural disasters have resulted in untold suffering -- tens of thousands have died; many more have lost their families, homes and livelihoods.

In the shadow of these enormous tragedies, the Buddha’s message of peace, compassion and love for all living beings brings added urgency. It tells us to open our hearts and embrace our fellow human beings, especially those in need. It asks us to recognize our essential oneness, and to place the well-being of our communities and of all humanity at par with our own.

These timeless teachings must guide the international community’s response to the situation in Myanmar. They should also inspire our efforts to address the broader challenges confronting our world -- in peace and security, in development and in the protection of our environment. In each of these areas, we have to rise above our perceived narrow self-interests, and think and act as members of one global community. This is the path to enlightenment, and it is the foundation of a better world for all.

On this Day of Vesak, let us affirm our essential interdependence. Let us pledge to work together for the common good, and for the betterment of all humankind. I thank you for your commitment to these ideals, and wish you all an enriching celebration.



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