31 May 2015

Vesak Day

  1. What is Vesak day?
    Vesak Day is the most significant day of the year in the Buddhist calendar and is celebrated by Buddhists the world over. The day commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha and is a day of immense joy, peace and reflection.

    Some important Dates to know 
    623 BCE 3rd week Full Moon day of May- Birth of Buddha in the famous gardens of Lumbini, which soon became a place of pilgrimage.
    He was enlightened on the full moon,3rd week and Fifth month of the year

    After the Enlightenment
    After the Enlightenment, the Buddha remained seated in deep meditation under the Bodhi tree for seven days, experiencing the bliss of freedom. For the next seven days, He stood gazing at the Bodhi tree and reflected upon the usefulness of the tree during the crucial period before the Enlightenment. 
    Then the Buddha was approached by a proud youth of the priestly class who wanted to know the qualities that made a man worthy of respect. In answer, the Buddha explained that a man’s worthiness does not depend upon the class in which he is born. Rather, the man worthy of respect is the one who has rid himself of all evil, is humble, pure and has self-control and is perfect in knowledge. The youth left the Buddha feeling humbled and satisfied with the answer.
    On another occasion, a young man approached the Buddha, wishing to know the meaning of happiness. So the Buddha explained: 

    “ Solitude is happiness for one who is content,  
    Has learnt the Teaching and has seen the Truth.
    In the world, happiness is goodwill And restraint towards living creatures.
    The overcoming of desire, Detachment in the world is happiness.  
    But to be free of conceit Is the greatest happiness of all ”

    One day, two merchants came by. Seeing the Buddha seated under the Bodhi tree, they approached and greeted Him. Then they offered Him a meal of rice cakes and honey. As they offered it, they expressed the desire that they might be blessed for this act. In response, the Buddha bestowed a blessing upon them so that they might enjoy happiness and prosperity in the future. After having served the Buddha, they formally requested Him to accept them as His followers. The Buddha agreed and so they took refuge in the Buddha and His Teaching.

    The Decision to Teach
    Out of compassion for mankind, the Buddha was then ready to spread His Teaching to all who could benefit from it. First, He had to find out who were the wise and learned ones who would most quickly understand His Teaching. He recalled His former teachers, Arada and Udraka, but both men were no longer alive. Then he thought about the five ascetics who had, earlier on, been practising extreme asceticism together with him. They were staying at the Deer Park near Varanasi, about 100 miles away, and He set out to meet them.
    On His way, He met an ascetic called Upaka, who greeted Him respectfully and said, “You look serene and radiant. Who is your teacher? Whose teaching do you follow?”
    With great assurance, the Buddha replied that He had attained Enlightenment by His own efforts, and that He was going to Varanasi to set the Wheel of Truth in motion. After that they parted company.

    His Teaching
    The First Sermon — The Four Noble Truths
    In His first sermon to the five ascetics in the Deer Park near Varanasi, the Buddha spoke of the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths sum up, in a systematic formula, the central teachings of the Buddha.
    They are: (1) The Truth of Suffering; (2) The Truth of the Cause of Suffering; (3) The Truth of the End of Suffering; (4) The Truth of the Path leading to the End of Suffering.

    1) The Truth of Suffering
    The Buddha’s discovery of the solution to the problem of suffering began with the recognition that life is suffering. This is the first of the Four Noble Truths. If people examine their own experiences or look at the world around them, they will see that life is full of suffering. Suffering may be physical or mental.

    i) The Cause of Suffering
    The Buddha had observed that life is suffering. Before He could  find a solution to the problem of suffering in life, He had first to look for the cause of suffering. The Buddha was just like a good doctor who first observes a patient’s symptoms and identifies the cause of the illness before prescribing a cure. The Buddha discovered that the direct causes of suffering are desire or craving, and ignorance. This is the truth of the cause of suffering, which is the Second  Noble Truth.

    ii) End of Suffering
    The Buddha’s realisation of the end of suffering and His attainment of Nirvana at the age of thirty-five, crowned His search for Truth with success. For six years, the Bodhisattva had spared no effort to find a solution to the problems of suffering. He had tried the principal methods of ending suffering and had found them wanting. Eventually He found His own solution to the problems of life.

    iii) The End of Suffering
    The end of suffering is the final goal of the Buddha’s Teaching. It can be experienced by anyone here and now. For example, when greed and anger arise in one’s mind, one experiences unhappiness, and when thoughts of greed and anger cease, one’s mind becomes happy and peaceful. To end suffering completely, one must remove desire, ill will and ignorance. This is the Third Noble Truth, that is, the End of Suffering.

    iv) Happiness
    The Buddha taught that the end of suffering is supreme happiness. Every step towards the end of suffering is accompanied by ever-increasing joy. The Buddha said,

    2) The Noble Eightfold Path
    Like a wise and experienced doctor, the Buddha recognised the sickness of suffering. He identified its causes and discovered its cure. Then for the benefit of mankind, the Buddha put His discovery into a systematic formula which one can easily follow in order to get rid of one’s suffering. The formula includes both physical and mental treatment, and is called the Noble Eightfold Path. This is the Fourth Noble Truth.
    The steps of this Noble Eightfold Path are:
    (1)  Right Understanding;  Right understanding means to understand the Law of Cause and Effect and the Four Noble Truths.
     (2)  Right Thought;  Right thought means not to harbour thoughts of greed and anger.
    (3)  Right Speech;  Right speech means to avoid lying, tale-bearing, harsh speech and idle talk.
    (4)  Right Action;  Right action means not to destroy any life, not to steal and not to commit adultery.
    (5)  Right Livelihood; Right livelihood means to avoid any occupation that brings harm to oneself and others.
    (6)  Right Effort;  Right effort means to earnestly do one’s best in the right direction.
    The Four Noble Truths: (IV) Path Leading to the End of Suffering  59
    (7)  Right Mindfulness;    Right mindfulness means always to be aware and attentive.
    (8)  Right Concentration;  Right concentration means to train the mind to be steady and calm in order to realise the true nature of things.

    Source : Taken from 

    Buddhism For Beginners. 3rd ed. Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, 2015. Print.
    O'Brien, and Barbara O'Brien. 'Do You Know The Legend Of The Birth Of The Buddha?'. About.com Religion & Spirituality. N.p., 2015. Web. 31 May 2015.
    Souledout.org,. 'LIFE OF BUDDHA'. N.p., 2015. Web. 31 May 2015.

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