Vesak: Sacred time to keep peace alive | Sunday Observer

Vesak: Sacred time to keep peace alive

“His holiness the 14th Dalai Lama sits in meditation, in his private chapel in Dharmasala. Rousing slowly, the 83-year -old Dalai Lama, heads outside, where a crowd has gathered to see the Dalai Lama.

He engages each visitor. His words are peppered with giggles and guffaws. He delivers a sermon – an exhortation. We 7 billion human beings – are, emotionally, mentally, physically the same. Everyone wants a joyful life. My number one commitment is to try to promote awareness of inner values. Children should be taught about taking care of emotions, in order to become more calm and to have more inner peace.”

The Dalai Lama, is venerated by many, as a living Bodhisattva. Religious prelates of all the faiths. Buddhist, Catholic, Christian, Hindu, Muslim – have been very earnestly urging people to eschew, violence, reprisals, revenge and wrath.

The spiritual commitment of all these religious leaders was to ensure that the masses did not flare up in counter-attacks, that would have invariably led to waves of bloodshed.

In this praiseworthy move, the spiritually inspired, unswerving stand taken up by His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith assumes a miraculous stature – as it were.

That attack happened on Easter Sunday. To, Catholic and Christians right round the globe, this occasion is a moment of high spiritual ecstasy. After the commemoration of the profound agony of Christ, Easter Sunday marks the phenomenon of Christ’s Resurrection .

In the Catholic and the Christian calendar, this is the most joyous day for the devotees - after gloomy and sorrow-fraught days of Christ’s Agony.

When specifically targeted deadly assaults were delivered on Churches, on such a day, one can imagine the deep resentment and the agitation experienced by the devotees.

At such an instance of intense pain, His Eminence the Cardinal , brought about calmness, tranquillity and advocated quite strongly the need to remain unperturbed. At media meetings, group discussions, spiritual sessions, His Eminence the Cardinal drove home to all, that we should be united together, without allowing us to be tempted to become violent.

The words of His Eminence the Cardinal, were highly effective in establishing the much needed calmness, enabling the tremendous issues that came in the slip-stream of the beastly attack, to be solved in an atmosphere of national unity.

The country’s leadership displayed an exemplary capacity, to be unruffled, composed and cool, in the face of agitated vituperations of some people, who were pathetically insensitive to the life-or-death need to present a united front to meet the massive threat.

But, the masses, by and large, were fully aware of the efforts made by the Leaders.

This is pre-eminently proved by the public statements made, to the effect that, His Eminence the Cardinal deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

Led by the President and the Prime Minister, our Armed Forces, the Police and the Intelligence services, got rid of a good part of the danger that threatened the land, in a matter of few days.

Masses of this country, if they have even an underling of the terrible proportions of the monstrosities that had been arrayed against the nation, would never be wanting in their gratitude to all these officials and our right-thinking spiritual and lay leadership for their guidance.

In this season of Vesak, during which we celebrate the three-fold festivals associated with the life of the Supreme Buddha, we can elicit the essence of compassion, that the Supreme Buddha proclaimed, to enable us to lead lives of peaceful co-existence.

He quite effectively advocated the need to avoid hatred. The famous oft-quoted stanza is very apt to be chanted in the present context:

Nahi verena verani
Samman thidha kudacanam
Averena Ca sammanthi
Esa dhammo sanantano.

(Hatred can never be allayed by hatred. Hatred can be eliminated only through non hatred.)

Today, this eternal doctrine is very vividly applicable. We must not continue to direct anger towards others. Instead, let us set aside hatred and live in unity and peace.

From here on, all of us who esteem peace and unity, must, together, try to strengthen our positive ties.

In our Island of Righteousness, we have a multiplicity of instances of friendly co-existence.

Way back in 2001, when, the Bamian statues were destroyed, a group of Sunday School children, guided by their Ven Teacher Monk, initiated the building of the massive Buddha statue, out of solid rock, at Rambodagalla in Kurunegala.

This rock-hewn Buddha statue was built, partly with the funds donated by the leading Hindu businessman, Deshabandu D. Easswaren.

This kind of epic collaboration between races and religions in our country, should set an example to us today, when we yearn for unity.

Today, we must be wary of those who would want to make this national tragedy a part of their partisan rhetoric.

Our unswerving aim should be to make this an instance that will drive home to each and everyone, the utmost need to have firm mutual understanding. If we are not fully resolved to achieve this unity now, we will weaken the whole nation.

If we were, for instance, to create doubts in the minds of the masses about our not being able to muster national strength, this may lead to harmful results.

People will not be willing even to send their children to school if some keep on harping about our weakness.

In the name of the generations that are growing up, let us get together and strive towards the strengthening of our national unity. We must never forget those who gave their lives, on that sacred day.

Nor should we forget to offer our profound gratitude to officers of all levels, who restored peace in record time.

The leadership of the President and the Prime Minister, is nothing but iconic in this moment of national disaster. Above all, this should not be an hour for hatred – narrow personal agendas and the rhetoric of disruption.

I must record here the name of Mr. Nandadasa Rajapaksa, who drew my attention to the contribution of Mr. Eassuwan, the Hindu Philanthropist – who helped the creation of the solid rock Buddha statue at Rambodagalla. He is a model for proper and esteemed Inter-religious and inter-racial unity.

Vesak Thoughts… 

The Buddha exhorted that affinity towards material things leads to constant suffering through Samsara. The Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path espoused by the Buddha point the way towards a permanent end to this suffering - Nirvana, the State of Supreme Bliss. According to the Dhammapada: “Do not follow a life of evil; do not live heedlessly; do not have false views; do not value worldly things. In this way one can get rid of suffering.” (Lokavagga, The Dhammapada).

While this is the ultimate goal of every Buddhist, it would be wrong to assume that Buddhism is a very complicated philosophy that offers nothing for our lay lives. The Buddha had plenty of advice to offer for lay persons who want to lead to pious lives in their Samsaric journey. He made it clear that inner peace or cleansing the mind was the first step in this endeavour. “The mind is hard to check. It is swift and wanders at will. To control it is good. A controlled mind is conducive to happiness.” (Chitta Vagga, The Dhammapada). Thus thoughts of peace and compassion should emanate from the mind at all times and a Nation that collectively engages in this exercise will see peace and unity.

In this exercise, it is essential to revive the link between the village and the temple (and other places of worship). Many of us have distanced ourselves from places of worship. This Vesak should see a revival of this age-old link. It is also vital to inculcate moral values in the younger generation who have embraced the material world and even the virtual world via the Internet. They are exposed to a high level of violence through movies and video games from an early age.