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Dalai Lama Points to the Heart of the Buddhadharma as Buddhists Around the World Observe Vesak

His Holiness the Dalai Lama. From @dalailama on

As Buddhists around the world celebrated the the day of Vesak on 5 May, commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and mahaparinirvana of Shakyamuni Buddha, His Holiness the Dalai Lama shared a message of greeting for practicing Buddhists across the globe. 

Referencing the symbolic importance of Bodh Gaya, the site of the Buddha’s awakening, the Tibetan spiritual leader’s message offered a timely reminder of the essential essence of the Buddhadharma, emphasizing the practice of compassion and wisdom, and concern for the welfare of all sentient beings:

On this auspicious remembrance of Lord Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and mahaparinirvana, I am pleased to convey my greetings to fellow Buddhists across the world.

Vajrasana, the Adamantine Seat, as Bodhgaya is known in our scriptures, is the most sacred of Buddhist pilgrimage sites associated with Shakyamuni Buddha, our compassionate and founder-teacher of our spiritual tradition. It was here that the Buddha attained Enlightenment (Mahabodhi), following which he bestowed teachings on the Four Noble Truths, the Thirty-seven Factors of Enlightenment, and others. The key to his teachings are instructions to discipline the mind for the benefit of sentient beings as infinite as space.

The heart of the Buddha’s teaching is the combined practice of compassion and wisdom. The practice of bodhicitta, the altruistic spirit of enlightenment, is the essence of all his teaching. The more we become acquainted with a concern for the welfare of others, the more we will regard others dearer than ourselves. We will recognise our dependence on each other and will remember that all 8 billion people in the world today are same in wishing to be happy and to avoid suffering.

Therefore, on this special occasion, I urge my spiritual brothers and sisters to be warm-hearted and lead a meaningful life, to be dedicated to the welfare of others. Warm heartedness is the key to peace and harmony in the world.

With my prayers and good wishes,
Dalai Lama

(His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)

Vesak, also known as Buddha Purnima (or more informally the Buddha’s birthday), commemorates three key events in the life of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, that also represent the birth of Buddhism: his birth, enlightenment (Skt: sopadhishesa-nirvana), and passing from this world (Skt: mahaparinirvana). The occasion, a public holiday in many countries in Asia, is celebrated by millions of Buddhists across the world. Although the date of the holiday can vary from country to country, and between Buddhist traditions, it is most widely marked on or around the date of the full moon in the month of May.

This day is typically observed as a time for reflection, meditation, and sharing the Buddhadharma, which has served as a source of spiritual guidance and compassionate wisdom for countless millions of people for some 2,600 years.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres also shared a brief Vesak message, urging tolerance and compassion for a peaceful world, observing: “At this time of strife, the Buddha’s teachings of tolerance, compassion, and service to humanity are a source of solace and strength. . . . Let us reach out to bridge differences, rise above narrow self-interest, and work together in solidarity for a more peaceful world for all.” (United Nations)

In Washington, DC, the White House hosted its third annual Vesak ceremony, continuing a new tradition begun in 2021 by US President Joe Biden.* While the previous observations of the occasion at the White House were small affairs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants this year were reported to include ambassadors and representatives from the embassies of Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, as well as official representatives of the three major Buddhist traditions, Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also shared his own message for Vesak, which stated in part: “The occasion provides the chance for us all to reflect on [the Buddha’s] teachings and renew our commitment to universal values such as compassion, tolerance, and human dignity.” (US Department of State)


* Making History: Vesak Celebrated at the White House with Candle Offerings (BDG)

See more

Message (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
The Occasion of Vesak Day (US Department of State)
António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) Video Message on the Day of Vesak, the Day of the Full Moon (United Nations)
White House to host its third-ever Vesak ceremony (RNS)

Related news reports from BDG

Vesak: Curfew Eased in Sri Lanka for Buddhist Festival
Indonesian Buddhists to Celebrate Vesak at Borobudur Temple
IBC Hosts Global Online Vesak Celebration Dedicated to Relief from COVID-19
Making History: Vesak Celebrated at the White House with Candle Offerings
Dalai Lama Offers a Message of Compassion and Unity as Buddhists Around the World Mark Vesak
Dalai Lama Urges Greater Inter-religious Understanding in Vesak Message
Vesak Goes Digital as Buddhists Head Online to Honor the Buddha
17th United Nations Day of Vesak Event Canceled over Coronavirus Risk

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