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Address by S.N.Goenka was delivered at the UN on the occasion of Vesakha, the full moon day, 2002.


(This address by S. N. Goenka was delivered at the United Nations on the occasion of Vesakha, the full moon day of May, which is celebrated each year as the day marking the birth, the enlightenment and the passing away of Gotama the Buddha. In 2002, Goenkaji was touring North America during the month of Vesakha, teaching Dhamma and giving public addresses in 35 cities over a period of nearly four months.)

Venerable monks and peace-loving friends:

I thank the United Nations and the organizers of this magnificent Vesakha celebration, especially the Myanmar and Sri Lankan delegations, for the opportunity offered to me to address this distinguished gathering.

One feels so sorry when one looks at what is happening in the world. Man has become the enemy of man. There is no personal enmity; people are being killed only because they belong to a particular sect or community, a particular ethnic group or country. Such is the level of cruelty that a person kills other human beings even if they are innocent, even if they are helpless women and children. Modern technology makes this tragic violence terrifyingly devastating-perhaps worse than ever before in human history. Therefore, more than ever before, a basic change is needed today to protect humanity from these inhuman, heinous crimes arising out of negative emotions.

The world is afflicted with the malady of hatred, anxiety and fear. It needs a remedy from an extraordinary physician. The Buddha was such an extraordinary physician, a great physician of peace and happiness. His teaching of peace and harmony is as relevant today as it was twenty-six centuries back, when he set in motion the Wheel of Dhamma, the Wheel of Peace. Indeed, it is much more relevant today. We have gathered here this afternoon to honor the teaching of this outstanding person in human history. Let us see how his teaching eliminates the negative emotions that are at the root of cruel violence, and how these can be changed to positive compassion. Most of the time, blind belief and strong attachment to one’s views cause negativity, which in turn produces such atrocities.

I came in contact with the Buddha’s teaching when I took my first Vipassana course in my motherland of Myanmar. I remember that before the course started, my teacher gave me a booklet to read. It began with a quotation from a discourse of the Buddha to the Kalamas.

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