05/25/2010, 00.00
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Thai Buddhists celebrate Vesak and seek solutions to political and social crisis

by Weena Kowitwanij
Thailand is still shaken from weeks of tension and violence that have sown death and destruction. The theme of 2010, organized in collaboration with the Japanese, focusing on Buddhist "prospects" in world economy. Prayers, meditations and torchlight processions for peace in the country.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - The festival of Vesak - which celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Bhudda - is a moment of reflection, prayer and blessing for Thailand, shaken by a political and social crisis in recent weeks that has sown death and destruction. It is proposed as a starting point for addressing the challenges of Thai society, in search of peace and solidarity, and nations around the world, who must overcome an economic crisis unprecedented in recent history.

Japan has collaborated with Thailand in the organization of the 7th Conference for the feast of Vesak, an event sponsored by the United Nations which has declared the land of the elephants' world centre of Buddhism. "The festival takes place May 23 to 25 and the central theme is focused on the economy, starting with the slogan "Global Recovery : The Buddhist Perspective”." Prince Vajiralongkorn and his wife, Princess Srirasami presided over the inaugural ceremony of the conference which was attended by Somdet Phra Buddhachaya - Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand – together with 400 Buddhist patriarchs from around the world and 1,300 Buddhist leaders representing 1300 nations.

Phra Dharmakosajarn, rector of Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (MCU), stresses that the Buddhist Patriarchate and monks agree on the need for chants and meditations to "invoke the blessing of the King" and "to wish a speedy recovery of the country" suffering from a severe social and political crisis.  For this very reason today in Buhhaamontol in the province of Nakhon Pathom, a prayer common was held at 5 pm followed by a torch-lit procession.

Enshin Saito, one of the most distinguished speakers and a university professor in Japan, analyzes the contribution of Buddhist education from an economic and financial point of view. He also recalled the visit of John Paul II to Japan in 1981, during which the Pope quoted the words of Saicho, founder of Japanese Tendai Buddhism, that "to forget oneself and work for the good of others is the culmination of compassion".  Saito says that we must "be able to accept adverse events or unforeseen difficulties", without others having to assume the consequences.

General Anupong Paojinda, Thai army commander, stressed that "the Dharma of Buddha is the is the priceless philosophy to keep our heart and mind to doing good, forgiveness and morality" and it is beneficial both for the individual and “society as a whole”.  The leader of the Chinese Buddhists - Phra Mahaganacharayacheen Dharmasamadhivatra - points the finger at the "contradictions between peoples” and “problems relating to natural resources that occur throughout the world, caused by a" division between men's minds and the Dharma”.

About 90% of 62.2 million Thais practice Theravada Buddhism, brought to the nation from India around the third century before Christ. This stream is based on the Pali Canon of Buddha's teaching, known as the Tripitaka (a type of bible of Buddhism). This year, for Thailand, the festival of Vesak is celebrated today, May 25.  

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