Colombo, Religion and faith

The Priority Vesak Thought for Action: “Care and Compassion for the Most Needy”

In a pre-Vesak address the Prime Minister and Minister of Buddhasasana and Religious Affairs made known his priority to lead Buddhists on a path, through awareness, to enhance their commitment to develop a high state of morality and consciousness in society.

Mr. Prime Minister, this initiative should be led by the Buddhist leaders in governance, at its inception by appealing to all in society, to place all resources allocated or reserved for Vesak decorations, lighting up streets and buildings, putting up pandals, celebrations, dansala’s and other similar spends, to be channeled towards helping the disadvantaged and unfortunate citizens who recently suffered from rain water led flooding and physical infrastructure damage, as well as those thousands of brothers and sisters and their children yet languishing in camps as internally displaced persons after the end of the war on terrorism one year ago.

Buddhism teaches that wisdom should be developed with compassion. Compassion includes qualities of sharing, readiness to give comfort, sympathy, concern, and caring, especially for those in need, disadvantaged and lesser fortunate. The highest wisdom is seeing the environment and the world around in its reality, and reality based on Wisdom requires an open, objective, unbigoted mind to guide leadership actions. The Buddhist path requires courage, patience, flexibility and intelligence.

The Buddha’s way is clearly through priority and preference for prathipatthi poojah (following the noble eight fold path to mindfulness and wisdom) rather than through aamisa poojah (physical offerings).

If that be the teaching and the way forward of the Buddha, the nation’s leaders in Politics, in Governance, in Business, and Civil Society should combine their efforts in alleviating the suffering, and restoring the lives and livelihoods of both groups who suffered in society and yet remain in a highly disadvantaged and unfortunate position, being victims of the recent floods, as internally displaced persons and as recently resettled persons without basic necessities of live in the form of education, health, housing, sanitation and livelihood options.

I trust that even at this stage the Prime Minister and all other leaders will begin their new commitment by alleviating the suffering of the target groups mentioned earlier. This is ‘What the Buddha Taught’ and that is what leaders must focus on as ‘the Way Forward’ to begin the social revolution this Vesak thus committing to the ideals of Buddhism.

[Editors note: The author is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka and of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, UK.  He was also a former President of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and named LMD Sri Lankan of the year 2001.]