.- The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue has sent a message to the world’s Buddhists, currently celebrating Vesakh, calling for a mutual respect and cooperation between the two religions in an effort to reclaim the idea of love, discussed in Pope Benedict’s recent encyclical.
The feast of Vesakh 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.
The traditional message, entitled " Buddhists and Christians Serving Humanity" reflects on the nature of love, addressed by Pope Benedict XVI in his first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est".
Cardinal Poupard said that "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”, he continued, “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.”
He called this “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.”
"In this world where the word love is so often used and misused”, he stressed, “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”, he said, “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".