In his Vesak message, Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday, "May all forces of darkness, ignorance, bigotry and hatred towards others be defeated in this Vesak".
"This Vesak may herald an era of contentment, peace and evocation. Not just a negative notion of peace defined by the absence of conflict. But a positive peace where we all work to promote dialogue, harmony and justice,” he said.
"Vesak is the most sacred day in the Buddhist calendar. It is a day Buddhists across the world revere the Birth, the Enlightenment and the Parinibbana (passing away) of the Buddha and is celebrated this year with a heavy heart.
Penning this message less than a month from the tragic attacks on Easter Sunday, the tears have not yet stopped flowing, the wounds not yet healed, the eyes still bloody from weeping and a nation still making an attempt to come to terms with the destruction and death that was left behind in the aftermath of the attacks. In today's reality the Lord Buddha’s message is even more so relevant in the twenty first century than it was two and a half millennia ago.
Buddhism advocates peace and non-violence as its universal and core message. The spirit of tolerance and understanding has been one of the most cherished ideals of Buddhist culture and civilization over centuries. A basic concept taught by the Buddha; the four sublime states of mind: love or loving-kindness (metta), compassion (karuna), sympathetic joy (mudita), equanimity (upekkha) provide the answer to all situations arising from social contact.
They are great removers of tension, the great peace-makers in social conflict, and the great healers of wounds suffered in the struggle of existence. Just as the Buddha taught, they must not be narrowed by any limitation as to whom they are extended to.
They should be non-exclusive and impartial, not bound by selective preferences or prejudices. When practiced in its purest form, they level social barriers, build harmonious communities, awaken slumbering magnanimity long forgotten, revive joy and hope long abandoned, and promote human brotherhood against the forces of egotism. Today we live in a world that thrives on conflict.
The forces that nurture conflict is pervasive, obstinate and terribly powerful. Therefore, the Buddha’s words hold significant and true today. “Na hi verena verāni- sammanti’dha kudācanam averena ca sammanti- esa dhammo sanantano”- Dhammapada. This passage from the Dhammapada captures very succinctly the essence of Buddhist philosophy in terms of peace and non-violence. It states - “In this world, hatred never ceases by hatred; it ceases by love alone.
This is an eternal law.” Therefore, the model we must emulate is that provided by the Buddha in his description of the true disciple: He is one who unites the divided, who promotes friendships, promotes love and kindness, enjoys concord, rejoices in concord, delights in concord, and who speaks words that promotes concord. Have a blessed Vesak. May the blessing of the Triple Gem be with you".