On the day of Vesak, commemorating the birth, life and attainment of ultimate Nirvana of Lord Buddha, I extend my heartfelt wishes to all the people of Sri Lanka. At this time in Sri Lanka’s history, it is important to remember the fundamental teachings of Buddhism that are also represented in the Sri Lankan flag by the four Bodhi leaves; Mettā (benevolence), Karuṇā (kindness), Muditā (empathetic joy), and Upekkhā (equanimity).
Mettā reminds us that we should not wish illness or sorrow on any living being. Karunā calls on each and every one of us to show kindness and compassion towards all living beings. Muditā embodies the highest level of empathy, where you not only share the joys and sorrows of all living beings but feel it as your own. Upekkhā teaches that we must not lose our virtues in the face of adversity. These four immeasurables when upheld and practiced would create a society of coexistence and tolerance – this was the great aspiration of the Lord Buddha, nearly 2600 years ago.
I appeal to all Sri Lankans, on this day of Vesak to remember, reflect and internalise these teachings and aspire towards a peaceful and inclusive island for all.