by Venerable Thích Đức Thiện
This year’s full moon season, Việt Nam is honoured to host the United Nations Vesak Festival – a celebration of Buddha's birth, enlightenment and entrance to nirvana. In addition to a diverse programme of activities including seminars, cultural events, rituals and sacred services, Việt Nam also aims to spread meaningful messages of compassion and wisdom in global leadership and knowledge on a sustainable society through the Vesak 2019 logo.
At the centre of the logo is a Dharma symbol, which is the dharma wheel. This is a popular symbol in ancient Indian culture. If you see each person’s life as a rolling wheel, no matter how large its circumference is, its contact with the ground is just a small point. Such contact could be considered as the connection with the present, right here and in this moment, which represents the true value of life, not what has past or what has not yet come. On the higher level of meaning, the Dharma wheel symbolises the essence of Buddhism. Buddha’s teaching has been inherited continuously from the past to the present and the future. This inheritance has been established not on the imposition of belief but on the awareness of reality as-it-is (yatha-bhuta) and the desire to build a better spiritual life.
The Dharma Wheel also resembles the Noble Eightfold Path with eight spokes representing the eight paths, which have been considered the key to a sustainable society. Vesak 2019 will discuss the Buddhist approach of invariance yet impermanence of the current time, from responsible leadership for a sustainable society, from responsible consumption to education and family harmony; and from transformation of individual ignorance and suffering towards a sustainable society for humanity, as well as global peace and harmony.
The image of the bronze drum – a symbol of Vietnamese culture and spirit – was also incorporated in the logo of Vesak 2019 as evidence of the companionship and integration of Buddhism throughout the nation’s history and culture. The combination of the bronze drum and the Dharma wheel signifies the drum beat of Buddha’s teaching at Tam Chúc Pagoda (Hà Nam Province) that will awaken humankind to return to its Buddhist nature.
From the transcendent level of Tathagata’s wisdom, let the great cause of saving lives rooted from the prominent Buddhist philosophers spread. This is also the implication of the pink lotus circle around the outside of the symbolic wheel. The lotus is a familiar motif and has multiple layers of meaning in Buddhist culture in general and Việt Nam in particular. From a personal perspective, the lotus symbolises the Buddha's presence in human beings, such as calmness, purity, immaculacy, and enlightenment – the senses that go beyond causes and conditions. More importantly, the lotus also signifies Bodhisattvas’ kindness and dedication to save lives from suffering. The unfolding pink lotus petals imply the existence and emptiness – the Great wisdom. They also represent causality (or dependent origination – Pratītyasamutpāda), selflessness and equality. There is no difference between you and me. Once my happiness comes from a smile on your face, it triggers all of us to live for a sustainable society – where each individual life is responsible for themselves, for society and for the wider nature.
From the interlocked lotus petals that look like joined hands, the energy of the wisdom and noble-mindedness will generate virtuous circles of united forces and willingness, and in a matter of course for a sustainable spillover effect.
Vesak 2019’s logo uses five colours of the Buddhist flag. That flag of five state-of-minds reflects the image of Tathagata’s master wisdom. The wisdom resembles the shining sun of mindfulness that sheds light on human beings and reminds us about Buddha nature existing in every one of us.
We come here to celebrate the 2019 Birth of Buddha in Việt Nam with the joint spirit of enlightenment, selflessness and compassion. We are united as one, and one with the universe. VNS