A virtual event on “The Contribution of Buddhism to Peace” was organised to mark the International Vesak Day at the United Nations on 7 May. The event was organised by the International Buddhist Foundation in Geneva (IBF), an interreligious partner of the World Council of Churches (WCC), under the leadership of its president Ven. Halyale Wimalaratne, in collaboration with the permanent missions of Sri Lanka and Thailand. Inaugurated by H.E.Tatiana Valovaya, Director General of the UN Office in Geneva (UNOG), the event drew Permanent Representatives and Deputy Permanent Representatives of more than 40 countries.
Ajahn Amarao, abbot of the Amarawathi Monastery, England, in his keynote address emphasised on the quality of mindfulness in developing the qualities of radical acceptance in one’s life. “The quality of mindfulness is essential in all respects because, mindfulness helps us to notice that I am getting hard hearted, I am being judgmental, I’m lost in alienation and I’m feeling opinionated,” said Amarao.
Rev. Dr Peniel Rajkumar, programme coordinator of WCC’s office of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, who was invited to be a panelist on this occasion highlighted the value of Buddhist teachings on cultivating a boundless heart towards all beings. He also pointed out how in the current global context the Buddhist teachings on Dana (generosity) and Prajna (wisdom) were relevant. “The focus on deep discernment and deep generosity is a dire need in a world where one is confronted with the temptation of being obsessed with the self at the expense of the other,” said Rajkumar.
Event moderator, Dr Gaya Gamhewage, founder of The Wisdom House, Geneva pointed out that this year marks the 20th Anniversary of the adoption by United Nations General Assembly of the resolution to recognize the International Day of Vesak. “This is an acknowledgment of the contribution that Buddhism, one of the oldest religions in the world, has made for over two and a half millennia and continues to make to the spirituality of humanity,” said Gamhewage.