Monday, May 1, 2017

Vesak celebrations all month, May 2017


Theravada Buddhist temples all over Los Angeles and Orange County are currently celebrating "Vesak" -- the name of the Indian month (Vesakha) the Buddha or, more correctly, Prince Siddhartha:
  1. was born,
  2. attained supreme enlightenment, and
  3. passed into final nirvana.
Full moon: May 10, 2017
They all took place on the full moon day of that same month years apart.

Each event is crucial to Buddhism. By being born in this age we have the great fortune of being exposed to the Dharma, the Path to Freedom.

Of course, that was only made possible because the prince was willing to renounce the worldly life and pursue the spiritual life, which resulted in his enlightenment. The promise of enlightenment is the direct realization of nirvana in this very life.

Nirvana is the ultimate bliss, the end of all suffering. The Buddha proved that 45 years after enlightenment, which was a glimpse, a touching of that ultimate reality, called "the unconditioned element," the deathless, the highest peace.

May 2: OC, May 3: LA
The Buddha, contrary to popular opinion, described nirvana in many ways. (By saying it is not this, not that, not the other, many have mistakenly thought it is "not" itself. It is not not. It is very much an ultimately ineffable thing).

Of course, no description can possibly do justice to the direct experience of it. It is beyond words.

So it is said at the culmination of the Heart Sutra: "Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, oh, what an awakening, so it is!"

Mantra: Gate [gaw-tay] gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha!

These three events are being celebrated across the US and in all Theravada countries (Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Thailand) or wherever Buddhist adhering to the oldest extant school of Buddhism live.

No comments: