The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue issues a message for Vesakh. “May this dramatic situation of the COVID-19 pandemic strengthen our bonds of friendship and further unite us in service to the human family”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue issued a message for Buddhists on the occasion of the feast of Vesakh (light), the most important Buddhist festival, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha, in the same month.
In it, it notes that tragedy of the pandemic has increased awareness of the interdependence within the human family in which Buddhists and Christians are called to promote a culture of care and solidarity.
In the various Buddhist majority countries, the feast of Vesakh (also known as Buddha Jayanti or Hanamatsuri, among others) is celebrated on different dates of the year, following local traditions. For most of them, this year it falls today, 26 May.
Titled Buddhists and Christians: promoting a Culture of Care and Solidarity, the Council’s message is signed by Card Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ and Mgr Kodithuwakku K Indunil J, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council. It reads:
“The current world situation, tragically marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges the followers of all religions to collaborate in new ways at the service of the human community. In his Encyclical Fratelli tutti, signed in Assisi on 3 October 2020, Pope Francis reiterated the urgency of a universal solidarity that allows humanity to overcome together the difficult crises that threaten it, because ‘no one is saved alone’ (Pope Francis, Fratelli tutti, 32).”
The message points out that Catholics and Buddhists share many values and expresses hope that they can work together, "especially in addressing times as hard as the present one.” In fact, “The suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made us aware of our shared vulnerability and interdependence. We are called to discover and practice the solidarity enshrined in our respective religious traditions.”
“The Buddhist teaching on Brahma Viharas (Four Heavenly Abodes or Virtues) offers us a timeless message of solidarity and active care. In speaking about mettā (loving kindness), it exhorts followers to extend boundless love to all. ‘As a mother even with her life protects her only child, so let one cultivate immeasurable loving-kindness towards all living beings’ (Mettā Sutta). As the Buddha taught, practitioners are equally encouraged to ‘make haste in doing good deeds; one should restrain one’s mind from evil; for the mind of one who is slow in doing good tends to take delight in doing evil’ (Dhammapada, 116).
“May this dramatic situation of the COVID-19 pandemic strengthen our bonds of friendship and further unite us in service to the human family, adopting ‘a culture of dialogue as the path, mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard’ (Pope Francis, Fratelli tutti, 285).”