Buddha’s ‘Birthday’ Celebration and Festival – Viet Nam 25 May 2015.

Today in Viet Nam Buddhists come together to celebrate Vesak 2559. To Westerners this is often called Buddha’s Birthday. Buddha stressed that the way to pay homage to him on this day was not merely by offering flowers, incense and lights, but by truly and sincerely striving to follow his teachings. So this celebration is an opportunity to reflect: Am I really following the Buddha’s teaching? The day celebrates enlightenment – which can be defined as the full realization of the truth of the Buddha’s teachings.

buddha and Nia largeWhen I was in Viet Nam in October 2014, I asked a number of people if high profile Buddhist Monks were supporting campaigns to protect wildlife such as rhinos. A pattern emerged from these discussions – several people said “Some of the most corrupt, wealthy people in Viet Nam, the ones likely to be using genuine rhino horn, are often the people who visit the temples most often to be blessed by the Monks”. When I asked about why the Monks, who could have such a significant positive impact on these people, weren’t voicing their concern about the use of illegal/endangered wildlife I was told that “Many temples worry about a devotee taking their money to another temple if they don’t get the messages they want”.

So on this special day we ask the Buddhist Monks of Viet Nam to remind devotees of one of Buddha’s teachings.

“All beings tremble before violence. All fear death, all love life. See yourself in others then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?” –Buddha

According to belief, good deeds done on this day will return more merit than any other time of the year.

feeding rhinos 5 feeding rhinos 3 Feeding rhinos 4

Buddhists are asked to celebrate Vesak 2559 by reiterating their determination to lead noble lives, to develop their minds and to practise loving-kindness; and remember that “He who seeks happiness by hurting those who seek happiness will never find happiness.” -Buddha

So we ask the Buddhist Monks of Viet Nam to speak out about the destruction of the world’s precious wildlife. You have a great deal of status with the people who are driving the annihilation of these wonderful creatures. We need your support to help these users awaken to the cruelty that is carried out to fulfil their personal desire for status, bestowed through their ability to obtain a rare, expensive ‘products’ such as genuine rhino horn. These users need help on the path to enlightenment.