Vesak Message by the President of the Jogye Order
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-Sharing the Suffering of Our Neighbors-
Dear fellow Koreans and Buddhists from every country!
Today is the day the Buddha appeared in this world. The day when he declared that every man, whether in heaven or earth, already encompasses all the wisdom and merit of the universe. Thus, this is also the day for every man and woman to reclaim their original freedom and enlightenment. Taking it another step, the Buddha also declared that all sentient beings already abide in complete peace. As a result, melodious dedications and blessings could be heard throughout the heavenly realms, and the earth shuddered and trembled.
The Buddha rose what had fallen while helping us see clearly what was concealed and unseen. He awakened us so that we might perceive our biased thoughts and defilements. He helped us comprehend the interconnected nature of the universe and that we share the same root. By realizing that our neighbor’s suffering is in fact our own, we should help our neighbors find peace in order to find peace within ourselves.
We must show respect in order to gain respect and become a wall of security to others in order for our own families to be protected. As we share in the suffering of others, our own burden will be lessened. The power of our happiness will increase twofold by sharing it with others. Thus, we must wipe away our neighbors’ tears and hold their hands in compassion, so that they might go beyond the suffering they must endure.
Korea has attained inconceivable wealth and prosperity within a remarkably short period of time, enough to make it an object of envy for many throughout the world. This is all thanks to the diligence and dedication of the Korean people. Korean people have worked extremely hard and constantly strived to go forth without ever looking back. Despite the devastation of the Korean War, we were able to establish a prosperous nation. Not only economically, but one with a culture that is admired around the world.
A series of problems have become apparent, however, as a growing number of people in our society have begun to dwell on material wealth and monetary gains. Without money, we cannot gain even the most minimal level of respect in our society. The value of life has fallen beyond restoration in the hands of material wealth and power. Our society no longer recognizes what is right and wrong, and the future is vague and uncertain. Traditionally, Koreanpeople cherished polite customs and moral values; it is not too late to reawaken this true nature. Most importantly, we must create a society which values the preciousness of life. Our society must grow to respect properethics and ideals.
A nation must be formed with the elders displaying civility towards those who are younger, and with society as a whole filled with meaningful communication between people of every rank, ethnicity, and social class. Despite our differences in ideals and philosophy, we should recognize the diversity in what makes each person happy, and respect one another while advancing towards a better world.
Exchanging work, no matter how small and insignificant, and finding solace in culture and art, we need to create a nation where close friends are always among us all, sharing anything and everything.
We can form a nation that respects our elders, and raise all children as if our own. Having exchanges and communicating between neighbors should come easily. Even if we may be poor, our hearts should still be filled with generosity, supporting neighboring countries with every chance we get.
On this day, we offer prayers and condolences to those who unexpectedly encountered misfortune in the capsized ferry Sewol. Let all the victims and those who perished in confusion and darkness become liberated and find peace. Moving beyond deep-seatedconflict and resentment, let us all reach out towards the brighter light and find rebirth in the Pure Land. For those who are still missing, let them find their way safely back into our arms. Even if it is a slow process, let their families and loved ones regain their strength and share their sufferingin order to overcome their sorrow. On this fine day of the adorning wind and sun in a revival of all creation, we pray that the compassion and wisdom of the Buddha resonates throughout the entire universe.
2014 Vesak in Celebration of the Buddha’s Birth (B.E. 2558)
Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism
President Ven. Jaseung