No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.’ – Teachings of Lord Budhdha
Today, as we celebrate Vesak Poya, the most important day of Buddhists calendar, I am well aware that things are different. Unlike the usual and most of Vesak festivals we have celebrated in the past, in all its grandeur, this year, has bought upon us immense hardships as we stay away from family, friends, and visiting the temple to commemorate this auspicious day.
Vesak teaches us many things, based on the teachings of Lord Buddha. It teaches us to embrace eternal values such as love and compassion, realize our inner strength, reflect upon our ties with family and friends and how important it is to maintain peace. It gives us time to reflect on our ourselves as well, especially during a crisis period.
Today, as we remain under a curfew as the COVID-19 has claimed 9 lives, families are confined to their homes. I am aware that financially people have suffered, jobs are insecure, many families are in desperate need of food, daily wage workers are unsure what lies ahead and globally people are undergoing immense hardships. But today, rather than reflecting upon what’s not, lets be grateful for what we have and those who surround us. As we remain confined inside our homes, lets cherish the time we have spent with out families, how closer we have become to nature, how we have started appreciating the little things in life, how we value food, and most importantly how we should be grateful to be safe, a luxury which hundreds of people including medics and tri forces do not have today because they are in the forefront of the battle against the COVID-19 just to ensure our safety.
I remember a famous teaching of the Lord Buddha, ”The first way to end these suffering is changing one’s views and must try to live in a natural way and must possess peaceful mind.’
Last year too, Sri Lanka could not commemorate the Vesak Festival following the brutal terror attacks on Easter Sunday which took away precious lives. Sri Lanka came to a shocking standstill when the bombs struck, and it raised a fear unlike no other – a fear of whether terrorism had entered our shores again. Last Vesak, we remembered all those who parted us, but we remained hopeful and reflected on the teaching of the Lord Buddha – ‘Everything shall Pass. Do not give up.’ While the lives can never be replaced, we overcame the horrid attacks, and started striving for what Sri Lanka is truly capable of and within months our sectors began to flourish once again and the sense of safety crept back into all of us.
Today a year later, as we remain indoors again, battling a different enemy, we continue to remain hopeful. To date, according to those in the front lines, the virus has been contained within the identified clusters only and community transmission has successfully been prevented. Over 200 patients have successfully been treated and released and we are now preparing to partially open up economic activities once again. With the help of the government, medical workers, authorities, tri forces, health inspectors, Sri Lanka has done a commendable job in battling the coronavirus. We are a lesson to all.
While I send all of you my greetings on this auspicious day, let me end with a teaching of the Lord Buddha – ‘No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.’ We, as individuals have a huge responsibility ahead of us to ensure that the virus remains contained. We have to act responsibly moving forward. The future of how soon this virus will leave our shores, now depends on us. Stay safe.