The Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, presided by Cardinal Paul Poupard, who is also the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture has sent to the Buddhists of all the world, the traditional message for the occasion of Vesakh. In countries where the Theravada Buddhist tradition exists (Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar) Vesakh is a moveable feast which marks important events in the life of Gautama Buddha. In the Mahayana Buddhist tradition (China, Japan and Korea) these events are commemorated on different days. This year, the message was entitled " Buddhists and Christians Serving Humanity" and reflects over the nature of love, addressed in Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est" "The Pope is convinced that this word, so frequently used and yet so often misunderstood, needs to have its true meaning restored in order to become a beacon of light for everyday life.". "Through our dialogue we have come to appreciate the importance that you Buddhists give to love for one's fellow human beings which is expressed in the concept of metta, a love without any desire to possess but only to help others. It is understood as a love which is willing to sacrifice self-interest for the benefit of humanity. So metta, according to Buddhist teaching, is not confined to benevolent thought, but extends to the performance of charitable deeds, to the service of one and all. It is indeed a universal benevolence. Nor should one forget that other virtue, karuna, through which is shown loving compassion for all living beings." "In this world where the word love is so often used and misused would it not be useful for Buddhists and Christians to rediscover its original meaning according to their respective traditions and to share their understanding with one another? This would be an encouragement for the followers of both traditions to work together to build up relations based on love and truth, to promote mutual respect, to foster dialogue and to further collaboration in the service of those who are in need." Source: VIS
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