Saturday, May 5, 2012

American Vesak Celebration (InsightLA); Wisdom Quarterly
Sharon Salzberg (L), Beth Sternlieb, Christiane Wolf, and Trudy Goodman at InsightLA, 1430 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica 90404 (

All are welcome to join InsightLA for its 2012 Vesak celebration! It's a Potluck and Midnight Sit.
Trudy Goodman and Christiane Wolf will host this Cinco de Mayo full moon observance: Saturday, May 5 from 7:15 pm to 12:00 am, all by donation (with all donations going into our scholarship fund).

On the night of the full moon in Vesak [roughly corresponding to our calendar's May], people gather in Buddhist monasteries around the world to celebrate the Buddha's birth and enlightenment.

For six years the Buddha practiced with dedication and determination, culminating in an extraordinary night of sitting under the Bodhi Tree. He finally understood how to free the heart from suffering!

This momentous insight is honored in monastic complexes and temples with quiet sitting- and walking- meditation all through the night. The lay community joins in to practice the Dharma and to give (dana) to those in need. Here is the story of this night more than 2600 years ago: 

How Siddhartha gained enlightenment
During the first watch of the night, when the Buddha-to-be's mind was calm, clear, and purified, light arose in him, knowledge and insight arose.

He saw his previous lives, at first one, then two, three, up to five, then multiples of them... 10, 20, 30 to 50. Then 100, 1000, and so on.... 

As he went on with his [serenity-and-insight] practice, during the second watch of the night, he saw how beings die and are reborn, depending on their karma, how they disappear and reappear from one form to another, from one plane of existence to another. 

Then during the final watch of the night, he saw the arising and cessation of all phenomena, mental and physical. He saw how all things arise dependent on causes and conditions [Dependent Origination]. This led him to perceive the arising and cessation of suffering and all forms of unsatisfactoriness.

With the complete cessation of craving and aversion, his mind was completely liberated [of delusion]. He attained to full enlightenment.

It's important to note that the Buddha spent the next 45 years teaching what he saw during the final watch of the night: He taught what we can verify by our own direct experience. We can bring our suffering to a final end. He did this because it was boundlessly useful and pertained to enlightenment, nirvana, and the longevity of the liberation teachings.

He did not spend his time [doing the more interesting thing which would have been] teaching about past lives, planes of existence, or the working out of karma. Karma (our intentions, their actions, and their results) is an "imponderable." He quipped, if one continuously ponders the subject over and over, it can drive us crazy! 

What the Awakened One wanted us to see for ourselves is the arising and passing away of phenomena, the conditioned nature of our lives, and how looking deeply in can bring peace to our hearts. 

InsightLA will come together to share a meal, meditate, listen to a Dharma talk, then meditate some more. 

All are welcome to come for part or the whole evening. Come find out that it is possible to practice longer than we usually think! Play with limits with trust and confidence that the Buddha's enlightenment is a real possibility for each one of us.
  • Potluck dinner: 7:15 - 8:00 pm
  • Sitting: 8:00 - 8:30
  • 8:30 - 9:00: Dharma talk 
  • 9:00 - 9:15: Break 
  • 9:15 - 10:00: Optional sitting again, chanting 
  • 10:00 - 10:20: Walking 
  • 10:20 - 11:00: Sitting
  • 11:00 - 11:15: Walking
  • 11:15 - 12:00 am: Sitting

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