UNAIDS Viet Nam Speech at Phap Van Pagoda World AIDS Day Event, 28 November 2009

Good evening and thank you for inviting me to this beautiful event. When I look around me this evening, I am conscious of how limited my understanding of Buddhism is, because instead of seeing three jewels, I see a hundred. I believe in Buddhism and I do believe that all lives are linked. Each of us is both a cause and an effect of all other beings. As I breathe in, you breathe out. We are all composed of water, fire, air, earth, space and consciousness. We all seek happiness and we all experience suffering. This makes sense to me.

Stigma and discrimination do not make sense to me. When a child loses her parents, we all grieve. When a child is barred from school, we all hurt. How can we love one person more and one person less when we all arise together? 

I would like to recognise the beautiful work that the monks and nuns of Phap Van Pagoda and other Pagodas are doing to help people affected by HIV. Thank you for embodying compassion, the highest of virtues. Thank you for following the precepts. Thank you for practicing virtue for the benefit of all beings. 

This evening, as we commemorate World AIDS Day, I would like to recognise Phap Van Pagoda for being a refuge for children in need. Buddhism, councils us to take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the spiritual community. But of these three the spiritual community, or the sangha, is the most important. This is because we need one another. 

We need one another to stop stigma and discrimination against people affected by HIV. We need one another to care for neglected children. We need one another lessen the negative effects of drug use and other social realities. We need one another to persevere through sickness and to laugh in happiness. 

Someone remarked to me just now that the next Buddha will be Maitreya, the Buddha of love. How wonderful. I hope that we can work together, as one community, following the example of Phap Van Pagoda, to make a loving world to welcome the Buddha of love.

Chuc suc khoe

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The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) was established in 1996 as the global leader of the response to HIV. UNAIDS leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. See more about UNAIDS at www.unaids.org

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