Saturday, May 17, 2014

Vesak celebrations sweep across Los Angeles

Ashley Wells, Dhr. Seven, Bhante, Amber Larson, Wisdom Quarterly  THREEFOLD VESAK
Indonesian Buddhist Vesak, May 25, Ontario, So. California (DhammaCakraTra)
Birth of Siddhartha, Salabhanjika
The full moon day of May marks the traditional anniversary of three major events in the Buddha's life, and Buddhists celebrate it worldwide as the most significant holiday on the calendar of observances.

Some call it "Buddhist Christmas" as it commemorates the Buddha's birth somewhere northwest of India 26 or more centuries ago. But his birthday is only important because of something that happened 35 years later.
Vesak 2013 (LABV)
Now in the Buddhist-year 2558, families gather, children and elders dress in all white. Flowers flood shrines. Candles glisten, incense smoke permeates the air with many perfumes. There are devotional activities, recitations, meditations, and eight precept observances.

LABV Vesak 2012
After all, what we are really celebrating is Prince Siddhartha's renunciation and conquest of suffering, the enlightenment (mahabodhi) and glimpsing nirvana.

People still become enlightened, still glimpse the timeless bliss of nirvana, but what does not happen is the arising of a world teacher, a samma-sam-buddha, a "perfectly and fully enlightened teacher" of the Path to Enlightenment, replete with mental and linguistic abilities that make possible the establishing of the Dharma in the world-system again.
Overcoming Mara's army, tide of death
Such a person will come -- far in the future when the Dharma has disappeared and the world is rapidly decaying. "But the world is rapidly decaying right now!" some say. It will get even worse before it turns around. Being cyclical in nature, it always turns around. And that goes not only for this plane of existence -- this Human Realm which extends far off the planet to include other planets that other "humans" inhabit.
On Earth we are earthlings and unique for that, but among humans we are only a part of the puzzle of which the class is composed. We are fortunate beyond belief that it was here that Siddhartha Gautama, the Shakyan prince, heir of a human kingdom (likely in modern A5fghanistan beyond the area and territories that would have been considered "India," as if India were a country then) practiced here, became enlightened here, and established the Dharma here for the benefit of devas and humans, and other living beings.
Massive Vesak celebrations, Dhammakaya (, Azusa, Los Angeles (WQ file photo)
Buddha flags, Lantau Island (m.gin/flickr)
Other living beings? Our scientific Western education tells us we are the only ones who exist. We very quickly forget the other animals that far outnumber us on this planet. We are not allowed to seriously entertain talk of ghosts, the dead, shapeshifting spirits, divinities, titans, gnomes, avians, reptilians, poltergeists, sylphs, goblins, ogres, or maras (spiritual killers). They are well remembered in our histories, our cosmologies, and our mythologies. And even when scientists study them, all that happens is that those "scientists" lose the label. They have stepped out of bounds of what the gatekeepers will allow. So when will UFOs be real? When academics, approved scientists, and government officials give us permission to believe our eyes -- and not a moment sooner! So look down, bow your heads, brothers and sisters, a raise a mighty voice unto the Judeo-Christian "lord," the approved God in capitalism, in whom we trust, with obedience and discipline for all. The priests in white lab coats approve of some gods, not others.

And to this day after 45 years of the Buddha's teaching, the Dharma survives -- fragmented, obscured, and falling but nevertheless still sufficient that some attain the knowing-and-seeing the Awakened One intended when he taught others to awaken.

Vesak, named after the Indian lunar calendar month Vesakha, marks the birth, enlightenment, and final nirvana of the Buddha. These events took place years apart on the full moon day of that month.
Buddhist flags above golden Buddha (WQ)
Los Angeles is being swept up in celebration in Theravada temples across the county. Sri Lankan temples, adhering closely to the Buddhist traditions of ancient India, raises Buddhist banners (rainbow colored with a lot of monastic orange).

No comments: