US President Joe Biden sent greetings on Tuesday (17th May) to Buddhists in the United States and the world, on the occasion of Vesak, the day to commemorate the birth, enlightenment, and passing of the Buddha. This is the second time the White House has celebrated Vesak.
He said in a White House statement:
“(First Lady) Jill (Biden) and I extend warm wishes to Buddhists in the United States and around the world as they celebrate Vesak. This sacred day is a time to reflect on the Buddha’s teachings, including the need to work for peace and justice, recognize our common humanity, respect and preserve the nature that surrounds us, and cultivate humility and compassion. The Buddha taught that we are but guests visiting this world, and for over 2,500 years, those who adhere to these teachings have enriched and strengthened this world we share. As we mark Vesak, we honor the American Buddhists who contribute so much to our country and advance our common values.”
The president stresses the importance of the Buddha’s teachings, which is for the sake of humankind. He gives praise to those who heed those compassionate and wise words and how they have helped make the world a better place.
This year, the Vesak ceremony was held for the second time in the White House. The event was hosted by Second Gentleman Mr Douglass Emhoff, along with White House employees who are devoted Buddhists. It saw the attendance of Wangmo Dixey, President of IBAA, Ven. Ajahn Thanat Inthisan representing the Theravada tradition of India and South East Asia; Ven. Dr. Jinwol Lee representing the Mahayana school of Korea; and Ven. Khenpo Tsultrim Tenzin representing the Vajrayana tradition of the Himalayan regions. This year’s ceremony also welcomed the first bhikkhuni attendance, Venerable Wol, representing the Mahayana school of Korea.
More than 2,500 years have passed since the time of the Buddha, yet his teachings are more relevant than ever. True to his title as the Teacher of deities and humans, people everywhere in the world can find in his words the way to liberate themselves from suffering and attain happiness together. In this era, the Buddha’s Dharma is like the elixir that soothes the minds in pain and the light that guides them to a better place.
On the occasion of Vesak, may the world leaders and people everywhere meet with the Dharma, awaken compassion and humanity, and help each other in the face of adversities.