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Congratulatory Message on the Buddha’s Birthday 2021

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Writer Jogye Date13 May 2021 Read2,568 Comment0



Marking the Buddha’s Birthday for Buddhist Era 2565, I pray that all people be blessed with the Buddha’s luminous wisdom and compassion, and blessed with life of abundance, peace and happiness.


All over the globe, humanity is suffering from a severe and heart-breaking plague. As the pandemic gets prolonged, global citizens as well as Koreans are under great suffering. What is critical in this situation is trust and cooperation. Korea is known to have state-of-the-art medical system and technology, and to have skillfully dealt with the COVID-19 plague. Death tolls from coronavirus surge even in many advanced countries, but Korea has become a nation which has advanced medical treatment system with considerably lower death rates from the plague. In consideration of the citizens of some other countries who are less fortunate in their efforts to fight off the pandemic, I ask fellow Korean citizens to have more patience and more trust, and make concerted effort to overcome the pandemic within the earliest possible time.


Many experts place special emphasis on the fact that this COVID-19 outbreak is directly and causally related to global climate change. To protect and preserve global ecology, we must moderate our desires at their roots. Our concerted effort to consume less and readily endure inconveniences will be the only way to secure sustainable life for humanity. Based on carbon neutrality and conversion to ecofriendly energy, we should restore healthier circle of life.


Respected Buddhists of the fourfold community!
The Buddha said the whole world is ablaze with the three poisons of greed, hated and delusion. Selfish desires, anger and jealousy come from the folly of not recognizing that all of us share common destiny and communal relationship.


Even now when we celebrate the day the Buddha came to this world, flames of conflicts and confrontations are burning in many areas of the globe. Of these flames, the situation of Myanmar, a country which has preserved Buddhist tradition for ages, especially breaks our heart.


I plead with the Myanmar military authorities! When your weapons are aimed at objects outside Myanmar, you are soldiers of Myanmar. However, when your weapons are targeted to your own citizens, you are just mobs. It is your duty to protect your citizens safe and sound. To put down your weapons at this very moment will be your true wisdom and courage. I cordially request the Myanmar military regime to cease all hostile actions temporarily beginning from the eighth day of the fourth lunar month, which is the Buddha’s Birthday according to the Northern Tradition, until the fifteenth of the fourth lunar month, which is Vesak, the Buddha’s Birthday according to the Southern Tradition.


The transformation from conflicts and confrontations is not just required in a distant foreign country like Myanmar. The relationship between North and South Koreas, which was once amicable, has been getting cold. We are well aware that Korean Peninsula was most secure when the two Koreas were cooperating through friendly dialogues. The Korean Buddhist community will pool their resources to reopen a way of dialogue and collaboration between the two Koreas at the earliest possible moment for the sake of our own peace and happiness at the least.


There is a phrase in some Buddhist scriptures saying, “carry a load of hemp and forsake a lump of gold.” A man who was carrying a load of hemp saw a lump of gold. But he begrudged throwing away the hemp, which he had carried all along, and ended up forsaking the gold. The phrase warns us to beware of our own foolishness. We want to live in peace and joy based on the acts of wisdom and compassion, but in reality we cannot let go of our habitual patterns inflicted with cravings and hatreds. The Buddha came to this world to embody with his life that we can let go of the load of hemp we have carried, and can have better future if we actually let it go.


The reality of life we face at present cannot be said to be light. That is why we should follow the Buddha’s footsteps, follow the path the Buddha presented to us, and walk the path together with fellow brothers and sisters. For those of us who don’t walk the path, this world is an ocean of suffering: for those of us who walk the path, this world is the realm of the Buddha. Let us take all life tasks including coronavirus as a stepping stone both for ourselves and the society to grow and develop further.


Once again I extend my gratitude to all members of the fourfold community who have come to this celebratory ceremony and fellow citizens. I pray that the Buddha’s luminous compassion pervade all over the globe and universe. Thank you!


May 19, Buddhist Era 2565 (2021)
Byeoksan Wonhaeng
President, Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism

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