Kala Korner - by Dee Cee

Vesak card with a difference

The Vesak season is on. Shops and pavement stalls are full of Buddhist flags, Vesak cards and numerous types of decorative material. Every year the debate is on about the quality of Vesak cards, particularly the themes and illustrations used for some of them. Protests are made and the authorities faithfully promise to take action. A year later, they re-appear with absolutely no action being taken. And the show goes on.

Amidst heaps of Vesak cards this year, is a novel one released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 'A journey into Sri Lanka is a journey into Pure Buddhism', is the theme of the attractive Vesak card. 'The Journey' is divided into several aspects and artistically illustrated. Buddhist monuments, Buddhist art, Buddhist meditation, and Buddhist culture are the aspects featured. The cover is a beautiful blend of ola books and a sheaf of lotus flowers.

The Vesak card had been planned in collaboration with the Tourist Board, to attract tourists to Sri Lanka. The Ministry has distributed the cards through Sri Lankan missions abroad giving Sri Lankans living abroad an opportunity to buy them and send to their friends.

The text sums up the Buddha's teaching thus: "The sublime message of the Buddha, preached 2500 years ago is a peerless gift to mankind. Its core elements of Generosity (Alobha), Love (Adosha) and Wisdom (Amoha) continue to influence the hearts and minds of people all over the world.

In Buddha's own words, his philosophy could be summarised as: 'To refrain from doing evil, to indulge in doing good, to cleanse one's mind - this is the teaching of all Buddhas'.

The card is the creation of W. M. K. Wijayabandara, the graphic artist with several international awards to his credit.

Bhikkhu Bodhi's address

To spread the message of Buddhism during Vesak, the Foreign Ministry has also published Bhikkhu Bodhi's address at the United Nations on the occasion of the Vesak celebrations in 2000 when the UN accepted Vesak as a holiday in its calendar.
Titled 'Buddha and His Message - Past, Present & Future' the address was well received throughout the world for its lucidity and simplicity. Bhikkhu Bodhi's explanation of the significance of Vesak and Buddha's teachings was highly appreciated, particularly by the non-Buddhists.

"In its diagnosis of the mental defilements as the underlying cause of human suffering, the teaching shows us the hidden roots of our personal and collective problems.

By proposing a practical path of moral and mental training, the teaching offers us an effective remedy for tackling the problems of the world in the one place where they are directly accessible to us: in our own minds.

As we enter the new millennium, the Buddha's teaching provides us all, regardless of our religious convictions, with the guidelines we need to make our world a more peaceful and congenial place to live" was how Bhikkhu Bodhi concluded his address.

The publication has been done in association with the Buddhist Publication Society, of which Bhikkhu Bodhi is President. Incidentally, he is now resident in the USA.

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