Supreme Central Council Sangha (Sangharaja Institute)
The Council Of The Supreme Sangha
THE SUPREME CENTRAL COUNCIL SANGHA
Buddhist Calendar 2567
Homage to the Sakya Muni Buddha, who was born peacefully in his marvelous manifestation at Lumbini Gardens.
“One person, mendicants, arises in the world for the welfare and happiness of the people, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, welfare, and happiness of gods and humans. What one person? The Realized One, the perfected one, the fully awakened Buddha. This is the one person, mendicants, who arises in the world for the welfare and happiness of the people, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, welfare, and happiness of gods and humans.” *
He is a Person who has surpassed all human cognitive and perceptual limitations. Humans are enslaved by deceptive feelings about themselves and the world; driven by irrational desires for survival; and preoccupied by irrational fears of invisible forces threatening life and death. In the terrible darkness of ignorance and desires, they are unable to find safety anywhere else and must seek refuge with the spirits of mountains, forests, gardens, trees, or shines.
He is a Person who emerges in the living world, the human world, during the Axial Age of human civilization, a time during which philosophical thought, science, and religion were shaped and oriented from the East and West. There appears to be no possible synthesis of these two sources of human civilization, and the only means of unification is through the use of force. They have alienated themselves, their own nature, by attributing their own abilities to their self-realization and self-liberation by seeking veneration for supernatural powers; but eventually, they realized that an individual can only survive safely under the leadership of a person who comprehends all human problems and has the capacity to protect others from violence. This wise and just individual is revered as the Lord of Mankind.
Human society requires a just, wise, and perceptive ruler, the Lord of Men, just as the heavenly realm must be ruled by an omnipotent and omniscient Lord of Heavens, a wise and powerful Ruler of the Heavenly Realm, in order to protect all natural orders and ensure the safety of all living beings.
The history of human civilization was indeed oriented and shaped, endowed with thought, by this thinking since then, more than 25 centuries ago, but the historical fate of the world was only determined within 20 centuries; and the end of the world in the 20th century has become a fearful obsession of nearly all humans in different communities and religions around the globe. This obsession persists to this day, depending on the frequency of natural disasters or the threat of a world war.
A few times per year, world leaders discuss the security measures or orders in various nations in order to avoid this threatening obsession. People are aware that these measures exist only in the text of resolutions and are not applicable to every nation.
Despite the fact that different nations follow different political systems, distinguished by their influence in the world, their leaders feel the need to maintain a glimmer of hope for a safe, peaceful, and happy global community. Consequently, it is essential to venerate a real person who existed in the actuality of human history. The Person chosen by world leaders is Sakya Muni Buddha, as He is the actual and concrete symbol of hope for world peace. This is not because He is a supreme saint or beyond, but because He is a Person like any other in the living world—a Person who has endured all the same sufferings as any other human being for an infinite number of times. That Person resided in the opulent Royal Palace of the ruling class, as if He were unaware of the sufferings of his fellow citizens, let alone all sentient beings.
When that Person was a teenager living in luxury and saw the fierce fighting for survival in a field, among the birds and fish, and between people and nature, he became constantly reflective on the meaning of life and death for all sentient beings. He went on an excursion outside the palace wall when his people were welcoming their future king in a spectacular event, and he saw an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. It was only for a brief moment, but those human conditions moved his compassionate heart. Since then, he has been determined to discover the true meaning of birth, old age, and death. Then, one night, while sleeping peacefully at the Royal Palace, that future King decided to give up everything, quietly riding his horse out of the palace wall, leaving behind all the hope of his powerful royal family and his people.
That Person, after claiming to be fully enlightened, understood the meaning of human sufferings and discovered the path to the abolition of all sufferings. Whether publicly accepted or not by various communities of different cultures, the historical reality is clear: for over 25 centuries, the Enlightened Person’s language and actions have never led to hatred, provocative fighting, or revolutionary violence in the circle of all Asian nations. In a world where hatred and irreconcilable dogmatic conflicts between various nations and religions, especially among the most powerful and developed nations aspiring to be world leaders, he deserves to be a symbol of hope for peace, tolerance, and compassion.
Significantly, despite the fact that only a handful of nations observe Buddhist traditions, all world leaders have unanimously agreed to designate the Buddha’s Birthday as United Nations Vesak Day to express hope for world peace. In accordance with this resolution, the celebration of the Buddha’s Birthday was held at the United Nations General Secretary’s Office from 2000 to 2004, when the Royal Thai government began to host the UN Vesak Day, and in 2008, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam registered to host this event.
In all of those Vesak Day celebrations, the meanings of peace in the Buddha’s teachings were praised in all great halls, but they only existed in the texts issued from those celebrations, not to mention the implications behind those praises, with the intention of promoting the status of some nations or political systems, in their mission to fight for world peace, or to clarify their policies of religious freedom amidst the suspicion of some other nations that they are promulgating these policies to suppress religious freedom.
At a time when nations are waging bloody wars for dominance over the rest of the world, representatives of a Buddhist nation can propose a peaceful resolution to all of these conflicts by citing the Buddha’s words on loving-kindness as the best standard. But how does one transform a powerful individual with lofty goals into a compassionate and tolerant individual? With the exception of a few trite praises of the Buddha’s words, there has been no concrete suggestion for practice.
True Buddhists frequently ask: Is there a Dharma door that can be practiced correctly, in accordance with the Buddha’s true teachings, to develop great loving-kindness in people who do not have inborn good nature, not the gentleness and kindness of a deer that cannot develop further, among the innumerable Dharma doors that the Buddha taught to overcome the innumerable defilements that sentient beings encounter? The answer is possibly affirmative. Buddha is commonly regarded as the Great King of Medicine, a skilled physician who accurately diagnoses the causes of people’s illnesses and prescribes the correct medication based on their health conditions and mental backgrounds. However, it is the patient’s responsibility to take the correct dose of medication at the appropriate time or to take it based on his own incorrect understanding of medicine.
The same can be said of Buddhist practitioners. Who is the Buddha and who is Mara in this world of fake news and conflicting ideas, which arise from the deceptive and erroneous perspectives of people with blind survival desires, making it difficult to distinguish between right and wrong? Consequently, the ultimate objective of liberation and enlightenment is an illusion or a strange mirage in the desert.
Vietnamese Buddhists can be proud of their more than two thousand years of living in harmony with Buddhism. This pride is merely a sense of self-satisfaction and contentment that we are deserving heirs to the Buddha’s legacy. This pride, however, lacks the foundation and strength necessary to transform our own minds, improve our moral qualities and wisdom, walk firmly on the Noble Path, and avoid confusion between worldly values and the Noble Path.
Since the Buddhist catastrophe of the Year of the Cat (1963), when a large number of young Buddhists were killed by the irrational ambitions of secular powers, the tragic and heroic fire of Buddhists has begun to burn. As a sacrifice to the existence of the True Dharma, they self-immolated their bodies, illuminating every step of our people’s glorious evolution with tolerance and compassion.
This year, on the Buddha’s Birthday, sixty years after the Buddhist catastrophe, the Chinese calendar completes a full circle, ushering in a new era in the tradition of Eastern and East Asian calendars. Since the establishment of the United Vietnamese Buddhist Congregation, there has been a period of historical inheritance, development orientation, and taking responsibility for the common interests of our people in order to develop our traditional tolerance, compassion in our educational and cultural mission, and social advancement. In the past decade, we have made modest contributions to a nation in shambles due to fighting between ideologically opposed brothers. After more than 50 years of peace, what have Vietnamese Buddhists accomplished, given that animosity and division between the North and South have not been resolved?
Under the oppressive power of ignorant forces who put so much pressure on the poor and disadvantaged classes during the pandemic, the fire of our traditional loving-kindness quietly warmed the hearts of our fellow people in difficult times, sharing every bowl of rice or bunch of vegetables to help them overcome the catastrophe that was threatening their lives. They sought refuge only within themselves or among those unfortunate individuals.
After sixty years of Buddhist calamity, Buddhists should practice transforming the light of loving-kindness into a bright torch for ourselves and those around us, keeping our Bodhicitta unshakeable, leading to Bodhi vows and Bodhi practices, and walking steadily on the Noble Path towards ultimate liberation and enlightenment for ourselves and many others.
Homage to Sakya Muni Buddha, the Blessed One, the Compassionate Father of all sentient beings.
The Buddha’s Birthday – 2567.
Phat An Temple, on the 8th of April, Year of the Cat (2023)
On the blessing of The Supreme Central Council Sangha
Chief Secretary of the Sangharaja Institute
Son of the Awakened One, Bhikkhu Thich Tue Sy
(English version: Prof Tran Nhu Mai)