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International Day of Vesak Is Reminder to Practise Compassion for All People, Says Secretary-General at Commemoration
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's remarks at the commemoration of the International Day of Vesak, in New York today:
Welcome to the United Nations. I am delighted to be here to commemorate the International Day of Vesak with you.
My own mother is a devout Buddhist. I was fortunate to learn the teachings of Lord Buddha through my family. They have been a great source of wisdom in my life. My distinguished predecessor, Secretary-General U Thant, was a very religious Buddhist.
Nearly 40 years ago, he delivered a lecture about Buddhism and the United Nations. Secretary-General Thant talked about karma, the principle that every action has a reaction. He said this is echoed in the United Nations Charter's call for countries to live in peace with one another. I fully agree.
Secretary-General Thant also underscored the Buddhist values of non-violence and selflessness. We all know these are fundamental to peace. I fully support his view that Buddhist teachings can help our world - especially the law of love and compassion for all living beings.
As he said, when we act with compassion and respect, national and international problems "will fall into perspective and become easier to solve".
Our challenge is to apply the Lord Buddha's wisdom to the real problems in our world today. Buddhism teaches that all people are interconnected. We must face global problems together. Poverty, displacement, disasters, diseases, conflict and climate change all transcend national borders.
On a more fundamental level, we can never advance as a human family if we leave the poor, the sick or the vulnerable behind. That is why our 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims to create a life of dignity for all people. The Paris Agreement on climate change will benefit the entire planet. And next week, we are convening the World Humanitarian Summit to forge solidarity and help the farthest behind first.
I count on Buddhists and people of all faiths to support these important international initiatives for global progress. The International Day of Vesak is a reminder to practice compassion for all people. That includes reaching out across religious divides, reject bigotry and embrace all people equally.
Let us actively work to heal divides based on the understanding that everyone has fundamental human rights that deserve respect. I count on all of you to help us realize true peace. Thank you for your leadership and commitment and congratulations on Vesak. I thank you very much.
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Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa.
Buddha sāsana.m cira.m ti.t.thatu.