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Commemorative Speech for Budda's Birthday 2022

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Writer Jogye Date13 May 2022 Read462 Comment0

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Commemorative Speech
for Buddha’s Birthday 2022

 

 

On this occasion of the Buddha’s Birthday, the mountains and rivers rejoice with flowering hope.
United as one, monastic and lay Buddhists lit lanterns on the celebratory pagoda on Seoul Plaza, and prayed for a “return to normal daily life” in time for Buddha’s Birthday, something which will bring renewed hope to everyone. Thanks to the dedication of the government and the healthcare community, as well as international cooperation, Korea is steadily moving toward the end of the coronavirus pandemic. And today, we are able to come together and celebrate Buddha’s Birthday in person.

However, dark clouds still hover over the world. The pandemic crisis still persists, and economic difficulties continue to worsen. Massive forest fires caused by the climate crisis are no longer just another country’s problems. The horrors of wars fought over ideology, religion, and ethnicity continue at multiple sites around the globe, most noticeably in Ukraine.

My fellow Buddhists from the monastic and lay community!
Over 2,600 years ago, the birth of Shakyamuni Buddha brought great hope to humanity. The Buddha completely shattered the ignorance and delusions of people in bondage to their religion, and were often mired in fatalism or hedonism. He taught that if one understands the true nature of reality and lives in accordance with it, they can save themselves here and now. The Buddha discovered our value as human beings and the value of life, and he opened for us a path to hope in which we can become sacred as we are. This teaching has been passed on as the discerning perspective of “Everything is truth just as it is” and the realization that “the ordinary mind is the Way.”

One reality is that we all exist relying on each other. “I” cannot exist independent of all other forms of life, including “you” and the whole universe. An individual is not a separate and independent existence; rather, we are both communal and united as one. The crises humanity is confronted with come from ignorance of this reality and from taking advantage of “you” for the sake of “me” and from regarding nature as simply a resource that we can recklessly exploit for our own benefit. Realizing that we are all a part of the same community and then acting upon this realization are critical to transforming the crisis at hand.

This year we expect crucial changes both within and without the Jogye Order.
In two days, on May 10, Korea will inaugurate a new president. And in June, local government elections will be held, and we will welcome new local government leaders and councilpersons.
It has been 60 years since the Jogye Order became an integrated religious order by embracing all history and tangible/intangible properties. On March 30 of this year, we held an enthronement ceremony for His Eminence Jungbong Seongpa, the 15th Patriarch of the Jogye Order. In September, the 37th President of the Jogye Order will be elected, and in October, members of the 18th Central Council will be elected.

We should view these important events as opportunities for progress. When the elections are finally over, all leaders should strive to bring citizens together based on mutual respect and harmony. Looking back at our history, when all people were united as one, we could overcome any crisis, including war. However, when our leaders were divided and at odds, it was the people who suffered. For the upcoming events—which are critical both for our country and our religious order—I ask you to strive to turn these events into opportunities for hope where differences can be reconciled and we can move forward in our growth and development.

My fellow Buddhists from the monastic and lay community!
Today is also Parents’ Day, a day we offer our deepest gratitude to our parents, and by extension, to all those older than ourselves. The lyrics of one song say, “You kept me safe and warm, and worked your fingers to the bone for me.” These words come from the Parental Benevolence Sutra, and in that spirit, we are here today thanks to the kindness of our parents, and future generations must also be grateful. The hearts of our parents are filled with love, compassion, joy, and peace, which correspond to the hearts of all buddhas who offer us “loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity.” Parents deserve extreme praise just for being parents. In greeting Parents’ Day today, I extend greetings of gratitude and praise to all parents of the world.

My fellow Buddhists from the monastic and lay community!
Upon his birth, Shakyamuni Buddha declared, “Throughout the heavens and the earth, there is nothing that is not this precious true self.” By this he meant that a life of supreme wisdom based on awakening to the true nature of reality, and which has compassion for all forms of life, is the greatest life of all. When our daily lives overflow with wisdom and compassion, then every day is Buddha’s Birthday, and every place we are is Lumbini Grove. Thank you.


May 8, 2566 Buddhist Era (2022)

Byeoksan Wonhaeng, President of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism

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