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United Nations Day of Vesak calls for interdependence, wisdom and compassion in facing crises

The Buddhist Channel, May 31, 2015

Bangkok, Thailand – Delegates at the United Nations Day of Vesak (UNDV) have issued a declaration exhorting nations to contemplate on the interdependence of sentient beings with other sentient beings and the environment, and to promote optimism through wisdom and compassion to transform crises into opportunities.

Member delegates at the United Nations Day of Vesak, Bangkok

The conference, which explored the theme “Buddhism and World Crisis” focused on four areas of concern, namely:

1)    Buddhist Response to Social Conflict
2)    Environmental Degradation
3)    Buddhist Response to Educational Crisis
4)    Buddhist and the ASEAN Community

The conference also called for the implementation of, among others, the following:
  • Promote the empowerment of women
  • To invest more in education to promote “mindful education”, religious diversity, ethical values and spiritual development among the young
  • To promote spiritual development and make structural changes to encourage the establishment of contented lifestyles with virtuous ethical principles as means to create ecologically sustainable environments
  • To urge governments and communities in the ASEAN region to work together and find solutions for the dire ecological situation in the Mekong River
  • To strengthen inter-religious and inter-ethnic ties within ASEAN
  • To encourage the use of Buddhist practices such as mindfulness, wisdom and compassion to address social issues i.e. narcotic drugs, ethnic violence and domestic abuses.
These resolutions, compiled by the International Council for the Day of Vesak (ICDV) which have special consultative status granted by the United Nations, will be handed over to the world body.

In honor of the 60th birthday of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Cakri Sirindorn, the conference also unanimously resolved to publish a Common Buddhist Text.

Phase 1 of the Union Catalog of Buddhist Texts (UCBT) was also launched. UCBT is a new online catalog that aims to link all online catalogs for all existing Buddhist canons published on the internet. Phase 1 consists of the creation of an advanced web catalog for the Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (MCU) edition of the Pali Canon and its corresponding Thai translation.

The Rohingyan problem

Some member delegates were disappointed that the on-going crisis of the Rohingyan problem in Myanmar was not addressed, given the prominence of social conflict as one of the themes.

Two delegates, each from Myanmar and Bangladesh – countries which are facing the crux of refugees fleeing to the seas - expressed their concern that the issue has been grossly misreported by the western media. They exhorted members of the conference to look into the roots of the matter and find solutions to what is deemed as social and ethnic conflict, rather than one with religious intonations.

Member countries from the ASEAN region most impacted by the refugee problem, such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have also refrained from making comments as their respective governments were holding concurrent high-level ministerial meetings to resolve the issue.

Nepal earthquake

A resolution was also passed commending the relief efforts for natural disasters and famines, such as the recent earthquake in Nepal. Member delegates urged to pull together resources more effectively and to promote “compassion in action”.

The 12th anniversary celebrations of the UNDV was officially closed by the acting Sangharaja of Thailand, His Holiness Somdet Phra Maharatchamangkalacharn.

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