Namo Buddhaya, Namo Dhammaya, Namo Sanghaya!
Once again our planet earth has completed its journey around the sun and brought us into the year 2566 of the Buddhist Era. Today is ‘Buddha Day’ or ‘Wesak Day’ which commemorates the Birth, Enlightenment and Passing Away of our supreme Lord Gotama Buddha. Today is a good day to take stock of our lives and determine how best we can face the challenges which confront us. How can we organise ourselves in such a way that we can enjoy peace and happiness not only for us but for all those who share this planet with us?
On a positive note, we can say that after two years we seem to be seeing light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic being shifted to endemic status. Although no one can safely declare that the danger has passed, we can claim to have survived thus far. However, the only thing we can be sure of is that Covid-19 is not the first disaster to hit the human race, and it will certainly not be the last. In some ways, we can see some positive factors emerge which should help us prepare for future calamities more effectively.
Perhaps the best positive effect was our ability to carry out our social and economic activities with the aid of digital technology. It showed us we could stay at home and not use up valuable resources on travel, office space and so on. It is fortunate that we were able to continue our daily duties with relative ease compared to similar pandemics in the past. Even animals enjoyed a brief respite from human encroachment, thanks to the lockdowns imposed on us.
However, whilst we embrace technology in our lives, we must admit we have paid a price in sacrificing our human need to socialise and live communal lives. Perhaps the greatest loss in this area is our younger generation who were deprived of social interactions for more than two years. The effects of these deprivations on a global scale can only be properly gauged in the years to come when we have the benefit of hindsight to guide us. Our challenge is to restore human contact on communal, natural, and global levels.
But the most important thing we have to bear in mind is not to give in to despair. This is what the Buddha taught us – there is suffering, but all suffering can be overcome. The Buddha teaches us that human intelligence and human resourcefulness are sufficient to overcome any challenges that nature can hurl at us. Hence our Buddha Day theme : “Moving Forward with Courage and Hope”.
Moving forward means learning from the past and move on for fresh opportunities to grow and develop peace and happiness. This requires a positive outlook, confidence and wisdom that humans have the capacity to develop in order to emerge even stronger than before. Wisdom gives us the clarity of vision to reflect that no one is exempt from suffering, and that our greatest enemy is not disease but fear. Fear arises when we have no understanding of ourselves or the world around us. Knowledge and understanding which constitute wisdom will give us courage and hope. Therefore, let us make the attainment of wisdom our goal for the coming year. Happy Buddha Day!