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On the United Nations Day of Vesak for 2008

Speech at the the United Nations Asia-Pacific Conference Center on May 18, 2008

     First of all, on behalf of the Japan Buddhist Conference for the World Federation, I would like to sincerely thank you for your invitation to this celebration.  I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate ITRI on being granted the special consultative status with the United Nations by the Economic and Social Council because of its cooperation with the United Nations and its joint activities with many NGOs and pacifist organizations in the world, and because of its continuous efforts to hold the United Nations Day of Vesak and the International Buddhist Conference in cooperation with the Most Venerable Dr. Phra Dharmakosajarn, the Rector of  Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University,.

     I believe events like the United Nations Day of Vesak are getting increasingly important in the modern world, because, when we have a look at the world today, we see conflicts still flaring up, problems of poverty and starvation getting more serious, and environmental problems pressingly facing us.  A good example of the people trying to improve this situation is the former president V?clav Havel of the Czech Republic, who led the communist government to collapse and achieved the Velvet Revolution.  He held a conference of global intellectuals named Forum 2000 at the turning point to the 21st century.  The theme of the conference was "to consider what values would be shared by human beings for the next one thousand years."  Mr. Havel said that the only thing that can save mankind is a global and multilateral sense of community in which peoples accept other cultures and civilizations beyond their differences.  I think these words suggest that the western idea that only the western belief is correct should be changed.

     Mr. Havel is very interested in Buddhism, because Buddhism is full of peace and highly values harmony.  He twice invited the 14th Dalai Lama, to whom the attention of the world is now centered, to the Forums in 2003 and in 2004 and had him make speeches there.  In 2002, I was also invited to the Forum and given a chance to perform a Buddhist ceremony at St. Anna's Church in Prague, where Mr. and Mrs. Havel sponsored the repair work.  I am sure that open-minded and unconventional leaders like him are the very ones that the world requires now.

     The spirit of Buddhism seems to be, though gradually, penetrating deeply into the world all over.  Last year, Buddhists from 61 countries gathered here in Thailand to celebrate the Day of Vesak, which made the celebration a very significant one.  We could say that the responsibility of all Buddhists, who seek to promote world peace in harmony with nature with the spirit of reconciliation, is increasing more and more.  On this celebration of the United Nations Day of Vesak, I sincerely hope that we can become a strong force to advance towards world peace.

ENAMI Kakuhan
The Japan Buddhist Conference for the World Federation