The United Nations in New York belatedly commemorated the International Day of Vesak virtually on 2nd July 2020. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic prevented Member States from gathering at the UN General Assembly Hall to celebrate this occasion, as in previous years. Rescheduling to July was also not without significance, as it was on the full moon day of this month that the Buddha preached his first Dhamma sermon.
The event, organized by the Permanent Missions of Sri Lanka and Thailand, featured a keynote message from Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Foreign Relations of Sri Lanka. Highlighting the value of Buddhism during this time of unprecedented global insecurity created by the pandemic, the Minister stated that the Buddha’s teachings could be a guide through this haze of uncertainty, towards light. He upheld that the practice of the four virtues of loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity could ease the sufferings of mankind and generate trust and understanding. Minister Gunawardena outlined that the Dhamma is not only a religion but also a philosophy on the way of life, symbolized by a Path of Knowledge with its’ goal being the destruction of ignorance, characterized, among others, by the futility of the egoistic notion.
Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Foreign Relations, delivering a message during the virtual belated commemoration of the Day of Vesak at the UN