Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on the Day of Vesak, today:
On this Day of Vesak, I extend special greetings to the victims of the earthquake in Nepal, a country that was instrumental in leading the United Nations General Assembly to designate this observance. I hope that the Nepalese people observing this holiday amid the rubble are able to take some measure of comfort from its message of human solidarity.
The spirit of Vesak can help to animate a global response to the challenges of our day. As the United Nations works for the adoption this year of a set of new sustainable development goals and a meaningful new agreement on climate change, we would do well to heed the Buddhist teaching that life and the environment are essentially one. And the Lord Buddha’s observation that all peoples are interconnected reminds us of the importance of uniting as one human family resolved to address our shared struggles based on common values.
I have asked members and leaders of all faith communities to join the United Nations in responding to the recent dangerous and destabilizing rise of violent extremism. Towards that end, we recently welcomed eminent figures from the world’s major religions to two days of meetings at the United Nations on promoting tolerance and reconciliation.
The imperative of transcending differences lies at the heart of Buddhist teachings, whose injunctions to practice compassion are timeless.
Let us celebrate Vesak Day with a pledge to care for the most vulnerable people in our societies and, in the process, create a better future for all.