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January 30, 2017
2017 World Peace Day celebrations in Geneva
With the blessings and guidance of Pope Francis the annual World Peace Day Festival was held in Geneva. Organised by the United Nations Office in Geneva the event was held at the St. Nikola Catholic Church.

This year's theme was "The political process of non-violence for peace".

Head of the Geneva International Buddhist Centre Ven. Dr. Thavalama Dhammika Thera delivered a talk on the Buddhist perspective of achieving world peace through non-violence methods.

Ven. Dhammika Thera in his speech thanked the Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic and Permanent Mission of Holy See for inviting him to this important meeting for the World Peace day. He further said that "This year's theme given by His Holiness Pope Francis is a very important and relevant one given the current situation in the world."

What we are hearing from different parts of the world on a daily basis through the media is not really positive, especially during the last year.

Unfortunately, we had to face very sad and grim reality. Innocent people including many women and children got killed and many more were injured. In this context, the theme proposed by H.H Pope Francis is a very meaningful one.

Non-violence is at the heart of Buddhist thinking and behaviour. First and foremost, practice of the Buddhists are the 5 mental trainings, which we call the five moral precepts. Among these five principals, the first one is not to kill or harm any living being. This indicates that the primary quality that a Buddhist should possess is non-violence.

Buddhism is essentially a peaceful tradition. Nothing in Buddhist scripture gives any support to the use of violence as a way to resolve conflict.

For example: In times of war, Give rise in yourself to the mind of compassion, Helping living beings, Abandon the will to fight.

For us, Buddha is the greatest proponent of Non-Violence. In his teaching, we come across one important declaration which captures the philosophy of Buddhism: 'Ahinsa paramo Dharma' which can be summarized as « Non-Violence is the ideal Eternal Law or the highest virtue »

The Buddha asked loving kindness to be extended not only to men, but even to all animals.

We all are frightened of punishment. All fear death, to all life is dear. Putting oneself in the place of others, one should neither kill nor cause to kill.

He who, seeking his own happiness, inflicts pain on people longing for happiness, the he will not find happiness in this life and neither in the next life.

One of Buddha's sermons puts this very clearly with a powerful example that stresses the need to love your enemy no matter how cruelly he treats you:

« Even if thieves carve you limb from limb with a double-handed saw, if you make your mind hostile you are not following my teaching. »

Kakacupama sutta, Majjhima-Nikkaya I ∼ 28-29

Non-Violence (Ahimsa) is one of the cardinal virtues and an important tenet of Buddhism. Ahimsa is a multidimensional concept, inspired by the premise that all living beings have the spark of the divine spiritual energy; therefore, to hurt another being is to hurt oneself. Ahimsa has also been related to the notion that any violence has Karmic consequences.

In the 3rd century BC, the Empire Asoka and in 20th century in our time, the Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Lutar king junior, Nelson Mandela were the most eminent examples of Non-violence: A style of Politics for peace.

Most popularly, Mahatma Gandhi strongly believed in the principle of (ahimsa) Non-violence. So, Gandhi attempted to practise non-violence and truth in all situations, and advocated that others do the same with the intention of creating pace. His success in not-so-distant past shows that even most complex problems can be solved with a non-violent method.

Put differently, one compassionate action is more powerful than thousand bullets. We can only join HH Pope Francis in saying that "Everyone can be an artisan of Peace"

Religious dignitaries representing Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and other religious groups and a large crowd attended the occasion.
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