In his message for the festival of Vesak, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue calls on Christians and Buddhists to turn to the transcendental values of their respective traditions and take a risk on “the path that leads humanity to triumph over the spiritual emptiness that causes so much wrong-doing and suffering.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue issued a statement for Vesak, the day Buddhists commemorate the birth, death and enlightenment of the Buddha.
Signed by the Council’s president, Card Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, and Secretary, Mgr Kodithuwakku K. Indunil J, the message for “Dear Buddhist friends” notes that in times of crisis such as those we are going through, it is more important than ever to continue with "resilience" to draw on the treasures of spiritual life in order to sow hope.
Turning to humanity’s “manifold crises”, the message bemoans the fact that, “For a third consecutive year, people around the world are held hostage by the lingering health crisis brought on by COVID-19.”
In addition, “Frequent natural disasters related to the ecological crisis have exposed our fragility as citizens of a shared Earth. Conflicts continue to shed innocent blood and to provoke widespread suffering. Sadly, there are still those who use religion to justify violence.”
Citing Pope Francis, the statement notes that, “‘Humanity is proud of its advancement in science and thought, in many beautiful things, but it is going backward in bringing about peace. … This should make us all feel ashamed’.”
Although “signs of solidarity [are] emerging in response to the tragedies”, lasting solutions are still faraway. Unfortunately, “The pursuit of material wealth and the abandonment of spiritual values has led to a generalized moral decline in society.
“As Buddhists and Christians, our religious and moral sense of responsibility should motivate us to sustain humanity in its quest for reconciliation and resilience. Religious people, sustained by their noble principles, must strive to be lamps of hope that, even though small, still illuminate the path that leads humanity to triumph over the spiritual emptiness that causes so much wrong-doing and suffering.”
Thus, Buddhists and Christians can do a lot in this area for “The Buddha and Jesus Christ direct their followers to transcendent values, albeit in different ways. The noble truths of the Buddha explain the origin and causes of suffering and indicate the eightfold path that leads to the cessation of suffering.”
Citing a verse from the Dhammacakkappavattanasutta, we can read that if practiced, this “teaching is a cure to the ceaseless grasping that leads to greed and power-plays.” In this sense, it is related to the “Beatitudes proclaimed by Jesus”, which “show us how to be resilient by giving priority to spiritual values in the midst of a world running amok.”
Ultimately, Christians and Buddhists can help humanity by bringing to light the hidden treasures of their spiritual traditions, in particular the dimension of hope. Hence, “Dear friends, we wish that your celebration of Vesak will keep hope alive and generate actions that welcome and respond to the adversities caused by the present crises.”