H.H. Supreme Patriarch Aggamahapandita Dawuldena Gnanissara Mahanayaka Thera, Sri Lanka

From H.H Aggamahapandita Dawuldena Gnanissara 
Mahanayaka Thera, Sri Lanka

It is with great pleasure that I am sending this message for the success of the 11th United Nation Day of Vesak Celebrations. 
I am grateful to the organizers and especially Most Venerable Professor Dr. Phra Brahmapundit, the President of the International Council for Day of Vesak, Rector, Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, and President, International Association of Buddhist Universities, for extending an invitation to attend the celebrations connected therewith. 
The main theme of the Celebration, which is Buddhist Perspective towards achieving the UN Millennium Goals, is most apt because the United Nations are in the process of developing the post-2015 development framework learning from the experiences in working towards the Millennium Development Goals and I wish to congratulate the organizers for selecting this topic. 
The achievements so far prove that when all nations and all UN bodies work in unison with a common set of goals it is possible to get far greater results than working single-handed. This is a learning that should be cherished and I wish to take this opportunity to commend this approach to the Conference. 
However, it has to be stated that our achievements, except in two of the eight areas have fallen short of the Goals that have been set. If I am to quote the Secretary General of the United Nations, even now “one in eight people worldwide remain hungry. Too many women die in childbirth when we have the means to save them. More than 2.5 billion people lack improved sanitation facilities, of which one billion continue to practice open defecation, a major health and environmental hazard. Our resource base is in serious decline, with continuing losses of forests, species and fish stocks, in a world already experiencing the impacts of climate change.”
The time has come for the nations to question whether the present model of development is most suitable for a fair and just society with equal opportunities for the development of humanity. Why is there such a wide disparity between the rich and the poor nations? If, theoretically, all nations grow to the standards set in the Western model, this Conference should reiterate the question raised by Environmentalists and others as to whether the world’s resources can sustain such development and if so, for how long? There is no lack of reports on such issues, and some by specialised UN Agencies, but they have not received the same attention in spite of many red alerts. The reason for this from the Buddhist point of view is upādāna or clinging, dependent on craving or tanhā. Rich nations, on the one hand, do not want to give up their exploitative way of life and, on the other, drag the so-called developing nations on the same path of self-destruction based on a greed consumerist economy.  
I wish to remind this Conference that at the dawn of this millennium one of our Buddhist nations, the Kingdom of Bhutan, presented the concept of Gross National Happiness or GNH to replace the current measure of progress of Gross National Product or GNP. This concept recognizes such Buddhist values of santuṭṭhi or contentment, subhara or being easily supportable, sallahuka or simplicity in life as measures of social and economic progress. I like to commend to this Conference that the concept of GNH be further studied and new parameters of human development based on Buddhist values be prioritized. We should not also forget that sale of arms, human trafficking, sale of substances, sale of animal flesh and sale of poisonous things come under the category of micchā ājīva or Wrong Livelihood that needs to be avoided for a peaceful and progressive world. 
May I again sincerely wish that this Conference commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of a Great Being be a watershed in the development process and not become one of mere rhetoric. 
May all be blessed with Sammā diṭṭhi.

Aggamahapandita Dawuldena Gnanissara Mahanayaka Thera, 
            The Supreme Patriarch of the Amarapura Maha Nikaya, Sri Lanka

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