White House Hosts Buddhist Representatives for Fourth Annual Vesak Celebration

- through Henry Oudin

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From ibaa.org

As millions of Buddhists across the world honored birth, enlightenment and Mahaparanirvana of Buddha at the Vesak festival, the White House held its own annual celebration last week, continuing a new tradition started four years ago by President Joe Biden's administration.*

Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, presided over the celebration with a lighting of lamps on May 23, welcoming representatives of the Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana Buddhist traditions, as well as ambassadors and representatives from Bangladesh embassies , from Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

“As part of my work as second gentleman, I have traveled throughout this country, but I have also traveled all over the world, and in many of those cases I have met with religious leaders and local organizations and I felt informed. deep connections and relationships between diverse communities and faiths, again, across this country and across the world. And this event is a big part of it.

“And it’s important that we build these coalitions.” It is important that we all come together; firstly, to express our interdependence, our faith, our joy, but also to fight hatred, because the only and best way to fight hatred is to do it together. Get together and do this. Because we know in this room that there is much more that unites us than divides us. (Youtube)

From ibaa.org
From ibaa.org

Wangmo Dixey, president of the International Buddhist Association of America and executive director of Dharma College in Berkeley, California, who was present at the event as coordinator, described the occasion in a statement shared with BDG: “ This moment was deeply meaningful for everyone. We. This not only showcased the beauty and wisdom of our traditions in our nation's capital, but also demonstrated that more and more people are adopting these teachings as their everyday path of life.

Speaking at the event, Dixey highlighted the importance of the lamp lighting ceremony. “Let us reimagine this light as a beacon of hope, a possibility for each of us to manifest harmony and well-being within ourselves and, ultimately, to become ambassadors of world peace,” he said. she declared. “This message from this room can resonate around the world, as many look to America to lead with its deep commitment to true inner freedom. Imagine the power within us to enlighten the world, showing that wisdom and compassion are the means to lead humanity. Let us remember that we have such great figures like the Buddha to remind us that enlightenment is possible, even in this life. (Youtube)

Also among the attendees was Roger Rosner, a senior executive at tech giant Apple, who spoke about the relevance of Buddhadharma in the modern world. “I was super, super lucky. . . be reintroduced to the Buddha's explanation of what ails us and his very clear healing of his understanding that our very mind is the source of our suffering and the key to our liberation,” Rosner observed. “I am heartened today to see how the wisdom, ethics and practices of the Buddha have spread across America. Buddhist teachings are adopted in schools, homes and meditation centers, benefiting huge numbers of people. And I hope and aspire that this event will inspire even more. So, on this day, I am deeply honored to be able to express my joy in celebrating the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha, especially here at the White House. THANKS. " (Youtube)

US President Joe Biden issued an official statement marking the occasion and recognizing the contributions of Buddhists to American society:

Jill and I send our warmest wishes to Buddhists in the United States and around the world as they celebrate Vesak. As we honor the birth, death, and enlightenment of Buddha, we recognize American Buddhists who contribute so much to our communities and our country. For more than 2 years, those who adhere to the teachings of the Buddha have enriched and strengthened the world we share. Vesak is an opportunity to reflect on the teachings of the Buddha, including the need to work for peace and justice, and to cultivate humility and compassion as we work together for a better future. (The White House)

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken issued a separate statement emphasizing diversity and religious freedom:

This full moon marks the celebration of Vesak, commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha. I wish Buddhists around the world who are celebrating a happy Buddha Purnima.

On this day, we recognize the contributions of Buddhist communities across the United States, illustrating the religious diversity that has strengthened our nation for generations. As we work to ensure freedom of religion or belief for all, the United States renews our commitment to ensuring that Buddhists around the world are free to celebrate Vesak in accordance with their traditions and values. (US State Department)

Buddhists make up 2020% of the U.S. population of nearly 1 million, according to 335 data from analytics firm Gallup. Although the majority of American Buddhists are of Asian descent, the spiritual tradition is represented across the country, among all ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

*Making history: Vesak celebrated at the White House with candle offerings (BDG)

See more

Statement from President Joe Biden on Vesak (The White House)
On Vesak Day (U.S. Department of State)
International Buddhist Association of America

Related news reports from BDG

Indonesia Buddhist Youth Association celebrates Vesak with record-breaking mobile sculpture
Illuminate Peace: Vesak Day Celebration in Washington DC
Ahead of Vesak, Catholic leaders urge Buddhists to continue interfaith work for peace
Indonesian Buddhist Youth Association celebrates Vesak in spirit of social harmony
Buddhists are welcomed to the White House to celebrate Vesak

The post White House Hosts Buddhist Representatives for Fourth Annual Vesak Celebration appeared first on Buddhadoor Global.

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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