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Director-General inaugurates the celebration of the 2550th Anniversary of the Buddha

On 7 October, Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, inaugurated the celebration of the 2550th Anniversary of the Buddha in the presence of distinguished representatives of the global Buddhist community.

 

In his opening remarks the Director-General recalled the teachings and life of the Buddha, drawing attention to the core values of compassion, mutual respect and peace. He likewise emphasized Buddhism’s inherent capacity to assimilate foreign ideas and local tradtions, without sacrificing its fundamental message. “Buddhism's capacity to integrate, transmit and fertilize many cultures constitutes the living proof of the Buddha’s message – “Unity in Diversity,” Mr Matsuura said.

 

Linking the Buddhist philosophy of “Unity and Diversity” with UNESCO’s notion of cultural diversity the Director-Generated highlighted the extent to which both recognized “the common links between societies, while acknowledging their distinctive identities as factors of richness and openness in an increasingly globalized world.”

 

Mr Matsuura went on to underline the importance of dialogue as a means of strengthening the relationships between societies. “Dialogue,” he said, “is an effective means of avoiding the misunderstandings that reinforce negative stereotypes, and mistrust […] it helps us gain a better understanding of other cultures and religions, as well as our own.”

 

In this context, Mr Matsuura recalled UNESCO’s mandate to “advance the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples,” by working to preserve cultural diversity and to promote dialogue as well as to build new partnerships for interfaith cooperation.

 

“There can be no doubt,” concluded Mr Matsuura, “that the quest for peace can only come through the mutual understanding of, and respect for, different faiths, in the spirit of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, adopted in 2001.”

 

In closing, the Director-General launched an appeal “to all religions and spiritual traditions – to their leaders and to the people who follow them – to refuse violence, and stand united for the well-being of all peoples, regardless of their beliefs and convictions. Having witnessed in recent decades numerous armed conflicts, and the great pain and anguish they have caused, we should bear in mind one of the fundamental aims of Buddhism, as expressed in the Four Noble Truths: namely, the elimination of suffering. Let us all work together towards this noble goal, by countering violence and building lasting peace in the hearts and minds of all peoples of the world.”

 

 

Contact: m.de-pierrebourg@unesco.org

 

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