As millions of people worldwide observe the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has paid tribute to the spiritual leader’s teaching on the need for compassion and solidarity with those less fortunate.
Buddha’s teachings “can guide our efforts to resolve the severe problems facing today’s world,” Mr. Ban said in a message marking the Day of Vesak, which is being celebrated today in many parts of 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 human cause to our only home, the planet Earth.”
The Secretary-General said that while this year’s theme to the Day of Vesak, socio-economic development, may sound modern, “its core is the very problem of human suffering” that Siddhartha Gautama [Buddha] sought to address more than 2,500 years ago when he left his palace, relinquished his worldly possessions and went out in the world.”
Mr. Ban voiced gratitude for the support of many Buddhist organizations towards United Nations efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), “our blueprint for enabling all people to enjoy lives of dignity and opportunity.”
The MDGs are a series of targets which world leaders have pledged to try to achieve by 2015, and they include halving poverty, halting environmental degradation and significantly reducing maternal and child mortality.
The General Assembly held a special meeting today to mark the Day of Vesak, and Mr. Ban told the event that it was important to remember Buddha’s message of tolerance.
“Let us respect all religions. And let us work for the well-being of all people,” he said.