Religion: Buddhism, THE BUDDAH AND HIS MESSAGE
Buddhism, Religion Buddhism, Buddhism Religion. THE BUDDAH AND HIS MESSAGE:
THE BUDDAH AND HIS MESSAGE
To begin, I would like to express my pleasure to be here today, on this auspicious occasion of the first international recognition and celebration of Vesak at the United Nations. Though I wear the robe of a Theravada Buddhist monk, I am not an Asian Buddhist but a native of New York City, born and raised in Brooklyn. I knew nothing about Buddhism during the first twenty years of my life. In my early twenties I developed an interest in Buddhism as a meaningful alternative to modern materialism, an interest which grew over the following years. After finishing my graduate studies in Western philosophy, I traveled to Sri Lanka, where I entered the Buddhist monastic order. I have lived in Sri Lanka for most of my adult life, and thus I feel particularly happy to return to my home city to address this august assembly.
Vesak is the day marking the birth, enlightenment, and passing away of the Buddha, which according to traditional accounts all occurred on the full-moon day of May. Ever since the fifth century B.C., the Buddha has been the Light of Asia, a spiritual teacher whose teaching has shed its radiance over an area that once extended from the Kabul Valley in the west to Japan in the east, from Sri Lanka in the south to Siberia in the north. The Buddha's sublime personality has given birth to a whole civilization guided by lofty ethical and humanitarian ideals, to a vibrant spiritual tradition that has ennobled the lives of millions with a vision of man's highest potentials. His graceful figure is the centerpiece of magnificent achievements in all the arts -- in literature, painting, sculpture, and architecture. His gentle, inscrutable smile has blossomed into vast libraries of scriptures and treatises attempting to fathom his profound wisdom. Today, as Buddhism becomes better known all over the globe, it is attracting an ever-expanding circle of followers and has already started to make an impact on Western culture. Hence it is most fitting that the United Nations should reserve one day each year to pay tribute to this man of mighty intellect and boundless heart, whom millions of people in many countries look upon as their master and guide.