The 14th United Nations Day of Vesak will be hosted in Sri Lanka for the first time from 12th – 14th of May, 2017. According to Daily News, the Buddhasasana Minister has informed that the inauguration of the 14th UN Vesak day will take place at the BMICH with President Maithripala Sirisena, Indian President Narendra Modi and a host of other national and international delegates participating. Over 2000 delegates including Buddhist and political leaders from several countries will attend the event. While the entire world prepares for this event and makes this an opportunity to appreciate the contributions of Buddhism for sustainability and world peace I’d like to draw your attention to the establishment of a “United Nations Day of Vesak.”
The United Nations General Assembly established the United Nations Day of Vesak in the year 1999 with Resolution 54/115 of 1999. The resolution outlines the contributions of Buddhism to the world and the rendition of the International Buddhist Conference held in Sri Lanka the previous year (1998). The credit, although buried, must go to Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar who advocated for United Nation’s recognition for Buddhism. Hon. Kadirgamar exemplified great leadership in supporting such a cause being a Tamil Christian.
Buddhism, just like every other dominant religion in the world preaches unity, love, harmony and positive contributions to the world. But just like in every other religion, the opposite has been able to appear in newspaper headlines recently. When we host this international day in Sri Lanka we need to understand the importance of living together and more formally put, the inter-religious unity and collaboration.
I’ve looked at Buddhism as a way of life and not necessarily as a religion. Yes, my legal documents outline me as a Buddhist, but deep in my heart, I believe someone can follow any religion and identify themselves with any nationality and still lead a “Buddhist” way of life. Buddhism to me has always been “doing good”. It starts with making an effort to be kind, promote compassion, and being willing and able to support someone no matter what. Sometimes it has been compromising my comfort to make someone else’s life better. Overall, it is to be a nice person who promotes kindness and empathy. This way of life and interpretation of Buddhism I’ve had for so many years has changed my life, made it so much simpler and interestingly, has brought me happiness and success.
I think the differences we all have as human beings is the very reason we are all the same. I think we need to encourage people around us to open their minds and embrace positivity. This doesn’t have to start with your “community” or “country”. Start with your friends and family because sometimes the problem is not thousands of miles away, it’s in our backyard.