Tag Archives: Wesak

Happy Wesak 2011 ! Happy Vesak 2011 !

Celebration of Wesak by By Ven. Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda 

Birth of a Noble Prince.
Wesak Day holds special significance for the millions of Buddhist who comprise a fifth of the world’s total population. In thousands of temples across the world from Tokyo in the East to San Francisco in the West, Buddhists will pay homage to an Indian Prince who forsook the pleasures of a royal household to bring peace and happiness to mankind. The Buddha, or the Supremely Enlightened One was born in 623 B.C. on a Wesak Full-Moon day. The young Prince was named Siddhartha or “the one who has brought about all good.” His parents, King Suddhodana and Queen Mahamaya, ruled a small kingdom called Kapilavattu in Northern India.
It is said that when he was born an ancient sage called Asita came to visit him. The sage took the child in his arms and first smiled, then wept. Questioned about his extra-ordinary behaviour the sage explained that he smiled because the Child would one day become the Greatest Teacher the

world have ever known and he wept because he would not live long enough to see the boy grow up.

A Prince of Superior Intelligence
Siddharta Gautama was provided with all the worldly comforts that could be provided in a royal palace. His parents shielded him from the harsh realities of the outside world. He excelled in sports and showed a very superior intelligence but he was not satisfied with such fleeting pleasures.
He was usually a meditative person. One day he noticed a frog about to be swallowed by a snake. Just then an eagle swooped and flew away with the snake and the frog on its mouth. This set him thinking: that human life was the same whereby the stronger was constantly destroying the weaker in never ending succession. This made him realize the happiness could only be found when this battle for survival could be ended.
One day, when he was outside the palace gates, he sighted an old man bent with age, a sick man and a corpse. The young Prince was horrified when he learnt that the human body which was so well cared for in youth could be subjected to the ravages of age, disease and death. He started to contemplate deeply and was determined to seek a panacea for such sufferings.

The Prince also saw an ascetic, dressed in simple clothes but glowing with the inner peace of one who had given up his worldly passions. He was deeply impressed by the sense of happiness and calm that the ascetic radiated.

Upon his return to the palace, the young Siddarta, then aged 29 years, decided that he would give up all the temporal power that he was heir to and seek answers to the questions that troubled him. What was the cause of human sufferings? What was the path to happiness?
He went to many teachers but wise as they were, their wisdom was limited. They could not help him to gain the Enlightenment that he was searching. So he decided to seek the path on his own. The struggle for realization of the truth took him six long years. One of the first lessons he learnt was to seek the Middle Path: that is not to go extreme. He felt that we should not indulge too much in worldly pleasures or subject ourselves to extreme austerities. In order to calm the mind to gain purification one must be moderate in all aspects.

Realization of the Truths
He realized that man’s ignorance is the root of all misery. Man’s clinging to an illusion of the ego creates desire to satisfy the concept of self. The basis of his teaching is the Four Noble  Truths;  The  first is  the Noble  Truth of suffering. Life is filled with the miseries of old age, sickness,   death   and   unhappiness.   People   chase   after pleasure but only end up with more sufferings, pain and unsatisfactoriness. The second is the Noble Truth on the cause of suffering. The third is Noble Truth on the End of suffering. When desire is eliminated, suffering will cease. And the fourth Noble Truth is the PATH which leads to the end of suffering.
He then explained the Path which is the Noble Eightfold Path as:-

Buddha’s Enlightenment
Finally, on the 35th anniversary of his birth, again on the full-moon day of Wesak, and seated under a Bodhi tree* in Buddha Gaya the ascetic Siddarta become the Buddha, the Fully Enlightened One. For the next forty-five years the Buddha traveled around Northern India preaching His message of Loving-Kindness for all beings and realization of the nature of existence.

1. Right Understanding
2. Right Thought
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration

The Buddha’s Passing Away
As with all other great religious teachers the Buddha found opposition to his teachings. But many saw the truth of His Teachings and followed Him, learning how to lead a proper religious life and free themselves from misery of existence. Finally, after forty-five years of preaching, lying under two beautiful sala trees, before a large assembly of monks, the Buddha passed away at Kusinara. This passing away is also known as Mahaparinibbana or the attainment of ultimate peace and bliss. This great event also occurred on the full-moon day of Wesak. The Buddhist Era begins from the Mahaparinibbana – Passing away of the Buddha.

A Thrice Sacred Day
Hence on Wesak Day, Buddhists all over the world commemorate three events: The Birth, Enlightenment and the Passing Away of Gautama the Buddha. As Buddhism spread from India to all parts of the world, the teachings were readily assimilated with the cultures of the people who accepted the teachings. As a result, Buddhist art and culture took on a rich variety of forms with profound gentleness and kindness as the Buddha expressly forbade the use of force. The practice of Buddhism was adapted in many ways to suit the nature of the various cultures that accepted it.
As a result of this, Wesak is celebrated in many different ways all over the world. But in essence many practices have become universal. It is most important to remember that this sacred day is purely and simply a religious festival

and not a festive occasion for feasting, drinking and dancing. On this day all Buddhists are expected to reaffirm their faith in the Buddha Dhamma and to lead a noble religious life. It is a day for meditation and for radiating Loving-Kindness.

How to celebrate Wesak
On Wesak day, devout Buddhists are expected to assemble in various temples before dawn for the ceremonial hoisting of the Buddhist Flag and the singing of hymns in praise of the holy triple GEM: The Buddha, The Dhamma (His Teaching), and The Sangha (His disciples).
Devotees may bring simple offerings of flowers, candles and joss-sticks to lay at the feet of their great teacher. These symbolic offerings are to remind one that just as the beautiful flowers would wither away after a short while and the candles and joss-sticks would soon burn out, life is subject to decay and destruction in similar manner as the flowers, candles and joss-sticks. Devotees are advised to make a special effort to refrain from killing of any kind. They are encouraged to partake of vegetarian food for the day. In some countries notably Sri Lanka, two days are set aside for celebration of Wesak and all liquor shops and slaughter houses are closed by government decree during the two days. Birds and animals are also released by the thousands in a symbolic act of liberation, of giving freedom to those who are in captivity. However, it is not recommended that birds be released in the heart of crowded cities, because by doing so we may cause harm to the poor bewildered birds which are unable to fly far after a long period of captivity. Unscrupulous bird dealers would recapture such birds for resale to well meaning devotees. If birds are to be released it is recommended that this to be done in rural areas where the birds can achieve real freedom. Some devout Buddhist will wear simple white dress and spend the whole day in the temples with renewed determination to observe the Precepts. Wesak is a day for meditation and observance of the Eight Precepts.
Devout Buddhists understand how to lead a noble life according to the Teaching by making daily affirmation to observe the five Precepts. However, on special days, notably new moon and full moon days, they observe additional disciplines to train themselves to practice morality, simplicity and humility.

The Eight Precepts to be observed only on full moon days are:

1.   Not to kill
2.   Not to steal
3.   To observe celibacy
4.   Not to indulge in wrong speech
5.   Not to take intoxicating drinks and drugs
6.   To abstain from taking food at unreasonable time
7.   To refrain from immoral and illicit pleasures
8.   To refrain from using high seats in order to practice humility.

Devotees are expected to listen to talks given by monks well versed in the deepest philosophies of the religion. On this day monks will recite verses uttered by the Buddha twenty-five centuries ago, to invoke peace and happiness for the Government and the people. Buddhists are reminded to live in harmony with people of other faiths and to respect the beliefs of other people as the Buddha had taught.

Bringing Happiness to Others
Celebrating Wesak also means making special efforts to bring happiness to the unfortunate like the aged, the handicapped and the sick. To this end, Buddhists will distribute gifts in cash and kind to various charitable homes throughout the country. Wesak is also a time for great joy and happiness. But this joy is expressed not by pandering to one’s appetites only but by concentrating on useful activities such as decorating and illuminating temples, painting and creating exquisite scenes from the life of the Buddha for public dissemination. Devout Buddhists also vie with one another to provide refreshments and vegetarian food to devotees who visit the temple to pay homage to the Blessed One.

Proper Way To Pay Homage To The Buddha
The Buddha himself has given invaluable advice on how to pay homage to Him. Just before He passed away, he saw his faithful attendant Ananda, weeping. The Buddha advised him not to weep but to understand the universal law that all compounded things (including even His own body) must disintegrate. He advised everyone not to cry over the disintegration of the physical body but to regard His teachings (The Dhamma) as their Teacher from then on, because only the Dhamma TRUTH is eternal and not subject to the law of change. He also stressed that the way to pay homage to him was not merely by offering flowers, incense, and lights, but by truly and sincerely striving to follow his teachings.

This is how we should celebrate Wesak: use this opportunity to reiterate our determination to lead noble lives, to develop our minds, to practice loving-kindness and to bring peace and harmony to all mankind.



Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambudhassa



see also The Sutra on the Merit of bathing The Buddha 

In heaven and on earth none resembles 

In all worlds everywhere none is comparable.

Everywhere in the world I have seen without exception,
There is nothing whatsoever like Buddha.

Homage to the Guidance of this Saha
World and three realms,

Benevolent Father to all beings,
Founder of the religion,

Our Original teacher, in three categories of transformation,
Shakyamuni Buddha.


Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, Wesak 2010

I now bathe the Tathagata

His pure wisdom adorns the sea of virtue

May all living beings of this period of the five

Impurities be rid of all defilements!

Together, may we all witness the pure Dharma body of the Tathagata!

2011 Vesak / 2011 Wesak Celebration
In Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and India

Vesak is an annual public holiday observed traditionally by practicing Buddhists in South Asian and South East Asian countries like Nepal, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Indonesia, Pakistan and India. Sometimes informally called “Buddha’s birthday,” it actually encompasses the birth, enlightenment Nirvana, and passing (Parinirvana) of Gautama Buddha.

When Is Vesak 2011 / Wesak 2011?

Vesak Day 2011
When is Vesak 2011? Vesak 2011 falls on Tuesday, 17 May 2011, which is the 15th day in the 4th month of Chinese lunar calendar. However, some countries observes the Vesak Day 2011 on different dates.

Vesak Day 2012
When is Vesak 2012? Vesak 2012 falls on Saturday, 5 May 2012, which is the 15th day in the 4th month of Chinese lunar calendar. However, some countries observes the Vesak Day 2012 on different dates.

Date Of Vesak Day
Vesak 2011 is celebrated by Buddhist around the world, and in different manners all over the world. Though some countries occasionally use different date for this festival, many would fall on the same day.

The exact date of Vesak Day varies according to the various lunar calendars used in different countries and traditions. In Theravada countries following the Buddhist calendar, it falls on the full moon Uposatha day (typically the 5th or 6th lunar month). Vesak Day in China, Hong Kong and Macau is on the eighth of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar.

Thus the date varies from year to year, but as general consensus in many countries, falls on the full-month day in May.

The decision to agree to celebrate the Vesak as the Buddha’s birthday was formalized at the first Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists held in Sri Lanka in 1950, although festivals at this time in the Buddhist world are a centuries-old tradition. The Resolution that was adopted at the World Conference reads as follows:

“That this Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, while recording its appreciation of the gracious act of His Majesty, the Maharaja of Nepal in making the full-moon day of Vesak a Public Holiday in Nepal, earnestly requests the Heads of Governments of all countries in which large or small number of Buddhists are to be found, to take steps to make the full-moon day in the month of May a Public Holiday in honour of the Buddha, who is universally acclaimed as one of the greatest benefactors of Humanity.”

Vesak Day Around The World

My son, Wesak 2010, USA

Vesak Day is often referred to with other names in each country. Official names of Vesak Day are Vesākha, Vesak, Wesak, Waisak, Visakah Puja, Vaishaka, Buddha Purnima, Visakha Bucha, Saga Dawa, 佛誕 (fó dàn), Phật Đản, and วิสาขบูชา

In Mahayana Buddhist traditions, the holiday is known by its Sanskrit name, वैशाख Vaiśākha, and derived variants of it. Vesākha is known as Vesak or Wesak (衛塞節) in the Sinhalese language.

It is also known as:

* बुद्ध पुर्णिमा/বুদ্ধ পূর্ণিমা Buddha Purnima or बुद्ध जयंती/বুদ্ধ জয়ন্তী Buddha Jayanti in India, Bangladesh and Nepal
* 花祭 (Hanamatsuri) in Japan,
* 석가 탄신일 Seokka Tanshin-il (Hanja: 釋迦誕身日) in Korean (Korea),
* 佛誕 (Mandarin: Fódàn, Cantonese: Fātdàahn) in Chinese-speaking communities in China, Singapore, Taiwan.
* Phật Đản in Vietnamese (Vietnam),
* ས་ག་ཟླ་བ། Saga Dawa (sa ga zla ba) in Tibetan (Tibet),
* (Kasone la-pyae Boda nei), lit. “Full Moon Day of Kason,” the second month of the traditional Burmese calendar (Burma)
* វិសាខបូជា Visak Bochéa in Khmer (Cambodia),
* ວິຊຂບູຊ Vixakha Bouxa in Laotian (Laos)
* วันวิสาขบูชา Visakah Puja, Vesakha Puja, or Visakha Bucha in Thai (Thailand),
* Waisak in Indonesia,
* වෙසක් පසළොස්වක පෝය Vesak / Wesak in Sri Lanka and Malaysia

Singapore Vesak 2011
The Vesak Day is an extremely important occasion observed in Singapore. Huge crowds will usually assemble at various Buddhist temples around the city. Inside the Buddha temples the monks chant sacred hymns and a large number of devotees set caged-birds free. Setting the imprisoned birds free is considered as a graceful gesture which serves as a mark of respect to all living creatures in the world. On this day, Singapore Buddhist youths organize blood donation camps and distribute gifts to the poor people. During the evenings, candlelit processions are found walking across the streets of Singapore and this is how the festival is ended.

You can observe the Vesak Day festival in Singapore for free as people can enter the temples free of charge. Some of the best points in the city for observing the festivities of Vesak Day in Singapore are the Buddhist Lodge at River Valley Road, The Thai Buddhist Temple at Jalan Bukit Merah and Lian Shan Shuang Lin Temple at Jalan Toa Payoh.

The Singapore Vesak Day is always celebrated in the month of May and is a yearly event. Vesak 2011 is celebrated on 17 May 2011 in Singapore.

Hari Waisak 2011 In Indonesia
Hari Waisak celebrations in Indonesia generally follows the decision of The World Fellowship of Buddhists. Hari Waisak 2011 in Indonesia will be celebrated on Tuesday, 17 May 2011. Traditionally, the celebration is focused nationally on the complex of Borobudur Temple in Central Java.

Rituals of national Waisak (Vesak) celebration in Indonesia usually observe following ceremonies:
1. Taking blessed water from the spring of Jumprit in Temanggung Country and torch ignition with the eternal flame of Mrapen, Grobogan County.
2. “Pindatapa” ritual, a ritual of giving food to the monks by the congregation to remind that the monks had devoted his life without livelihoods.
3. Meditation on the peak of the full moon. Determination of the full moon is based on the calculation of astronomy, so that the peak of the full moon can also occur during the daytime.

Besides the three main ceremonies, other Waisak ceremonies that were also conducted are pradaksina, parades, and art events.

2011 Wesak Day in Malaysia
Wesak Day is the most important festivals of the Buddhists in Malaysia and fall in the month of May. In Malaysia, 2011 Wesak (Vesak) Day will be celebrated on Tuesday, May 17th 2011.

Vesak is celebrated to commemorate the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha because according to Buddhists, all the three events took place on the same lunar date.

The Wesak day celebrations begins much before the dawn when the Malaysian Buddhist devotees gather in Buddhist temples for worship all over Malaysia. The Buddhists will then hoist the Buddhist flag and sing hymns in praise of the holy triple gem namely; The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings) and The Sangha (his disciples). The celebration is done with prayers, chants, offerings and giving alms. Simple offerings are also brought to the temple such as flowers while prayers using candles and joss-sticks are used.

The Buddhist eat a vegetarian diet prior to the festival in order to cleanse and purify themselves. Animals such as doves and tortoises are released by the Malaysian Buddhist devotees on the Wesak Day as a symbolic gesture of releasing the soul and giving up the past sins. Besides that, this particular act is also seen as a way of giving freedom for those that are held against their will or being tortured. Free meals are also given to the needy on the Wesak Day.

Wesak 2011 in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka the Wesak Festival is celebrated as a religious and a cultural festival in Sri Lanka on the full moon of the month of May, for two days. In Sri Lanka, Wesak 2011 will be celebrated from Tuesday, May 17th 2011 to Wednesday, May 18th 2011.

During these two days, the selling of alcohol and flesh is prohibited by government decree. As a symbolic act of liberation, birds, insects and animals are released in huge numbers.

Celebrations include various religious and alms giving activities. Electrically lit pandols called toranas are erected in various locations in Colombo and elsewhere, most sponsored by donors, religious societies and welfare groups. Each pandol illustrates a story from the 550 Jataka Katha or the 550 Past Life Stories of the Buddha.

In addition, colourful lanterns called Vesak koodu are hung along streets and in front of homes. They signify the light of the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha. Many devout Buddhists wear simple white dresses on Vesak Day and spend the whole day in temples with renewed determination to observe the observance of the Eight Precepts of Buddhism.

Vesak celebration also means making special efforts to bring happiness to the people in more straightened circumstances. Food stalls set up by Buddhist devotees called dansälas provide free food and drinks to passersby. Groups of people from various community organisations, businesses and government departments sing bhakti gee or Buddhist devotional songs. Colombo experiences a massive influx of public from all parts of the country during this week.

2011 Buddha Purnima in India

In India, Vesak Day is known as Buddha Purnima. On this day, Buddhists do not eat meat. This is considered an act of compassion towards animals. People are encouraged to perform other acts of kindness such as sharing food with the poor. Some people even set up road stalls providing free, clean drinking water. Buddha Purnima 2011 will be celebrated on Tuesday, 17 May 2011 in India.

Birth of Buddha or Tathagata is celebrated in India, especially in Sikkim, Ladakh , Arunachal Pradesh, Bodh Gaya and Maharashtra (where 6% of total population are Buddhists) and other parts of India as per Indian calendar. Buddhist People go to common Viharas to observe a rather longer-than-usual, full-length Buddhist sutra, as something like a service. The usual dress is pure white. Non-vegetarian food is normally avoided. Kheer, a sweet rice porridge is commonly served to recall the story of Sujata, a maiden who, in Gautama Buddha’s life, offered the Buddha a bowl of milk porridge.

The Buddhists bathe and dress only in white clothes. They gather in their viharas (monasteries) before sunrise to worship Buddha, offer alms to the bhikshus (monks), hoist the Buddhist flag, and sing hymns admiring the sacred triple treasure: The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings), and The Sangha (his disciples).

Many devotees offer flowers, candles, and joss sticks at the feet of the monks. Such a ritual allows a Buddhist to reflect on the truth that just as the magnificent flowers shrink and the candles and joss sticks burn out in short time, our life span is too short and will decay soon.

Several followers listen to the continuous speech on the life and preaching of the Buddha throughout the day or request monks to come to their homes. Buddhist monks recite 2500 years old verses obtained from Buddha and urge people to respect other religions.

2011 Hanamatsuri in Japan
In Japan, Vesākha or hanamatsuri (花祭) is also known as: Kanbutsu-e (灌仏会), Goutan-e (降誕会), Busshou-e (仏生会), Yokubutsu-e (浴仏会), Ryuge-e (龍華会), Hana-eshiki (花会式). It is not a public holiday. It is based on a legend that a dragon appeared in the sky on his birthday and poured soma over him.

It used to be celebrated on the 8th day of the fourth month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, based on one of the legends that proclaims the day as Buddha’s birthday. At present, the celebration is observed on April 8 of the Solar Calendar since the Meiji government adopted the western solar calendar as the official calendar. Since the 8th day of the fourth month in the lunar calendar commonly falls in May of the current solar calendar, it is now celebrated about a month earlier. Thus in Japan, 2011 Vesak Day will be celebrated on Friday, 8th April 2011.

In Japan, the general populace are not practicing Buddhists (and may be called casual Buddhists), so most Buddhist temples provide a way to allow the general public to celebrate and participate in only the aspect of the day being Buddha’s birthday, providing the statue of baby Buddha and allowing the populace to worship or pay respect by pouring ama cha, a tea made of Hydrangea. In Buddhist temples, monasteries and nunneries, more involved ceremonies are conducted for practicing Buddhists, priests, monks and nuns. Also, there are public festivals made out of the day in some areas.

2011 Visakha Bucha in Thailand
In Thailand, where majority of the population are buddhists, ach year, the nationwide festival of Vesak Day is held to pay tribute to the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. The Vesak Day will fall on Tuesday, May 17th 2011, however celebrations can be seen for more than a week.

In Thailand, people will congregate around the Buddhist temples to pray and give thanks to the deity on the Vesak Day. Monks dressed in their saffron robes will lead sermons and services throughout the day, with candlelit processions often taking place once night has fallen.

2011 Buddha Poornima in Nepal

The birth of the Buddha is often celebrated by Buddhists in Nepal for an entire month in the Buddhist calendar. The actual day is called Buddha Poornima (or Buddha Purnima), also traditionally known as Vaishakh Poornima. In 2011, the Buddha Poornima will fall on Tuesday, 17 May 2011.

The event is celebrated by gentle and serene fervour, keeping in mind the very nature of Buddhism. People, especially women, go to common Viharas to observe a rather longer-than-usual, full-length Buddhist sutra, as something like a service. The usual dress is pure white. Non-vegetarian food is normally avoided. Kheer, a sweet rice porridge is commonly served to recall the story of Sujata, a maiden who, in Gautama Buddha’s life, offered the Buddha a bowl of milk porridge after he had given up the path of asceticism following six years of extreme austerity. This event was one major link in his enlightenment.

It is said that the Buddha originally followed the way of asceticism to attain enlightenment sooner, as was thought by many at that time. He sat for a prolonged time with inadequate food and water, which caused his body to shrivel so as to be indistinguishable from the bark of the tree that he was sitting under. Seeing the weak Siddhartha Gautama, a girl named Sujata placed a bowl of milk in front of him as an offering. Realizing that without food one can do nothing, the Buddha refrained from harming his own body.

2011 Buddha Birthday in China, Hongkong and Taiwan
In the Chinese speaking countries of Hongkong, China, as well as Taiwan, the Vesak Day called Guanfo (bathing the Buddha) or Yufo (Buddha’s birthday celebration featuring washing Buddha image with perfumed water). The celebrations begin before sunrise and devotees throng the temples early at dawn to meditate. Chanshi (the ceremony of chanting the sutras and confession and prayer) is practiced by monks.

As the day progresses, Buddhist devotees visit orphanages, welfare homes, homes for the aged and charitable institutions to distribute cash donations and gifts to the needy. On this occasion, caged birds are freed to symbolize humanity and compassion.

The celebration is also marked with the devotees performing the “bathing Buddha” ritual where they held a wooden ladle and poured water over a small statue of the Buddha. Bathing a statue of the Buddha symbolizes a fresh start in life and the care given to newborn babies.

Legend has it that when the historical Buddha, Prince Siddhartha, was born, there were auspicious signs heralding his birth. They describe the sky as blue and clear on his birth, with dragons spurting purified water to bathe him. Since then, Buddhists have celebrated his birthday by using fragrant water to bathe the image of Buddha.

In these East Asia countries, Buddha’s birthday is celebrated in on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. Thus in 2011, the Buddha birthday falls on Tuesday, 10th May 2011.

2011 Buddha Birthday in South Korea

In Korea the birthday of Buddha is celebrated according to the Lunisolar calendar. This day is called 석가탄신일 (Seokga tansinil), meaning “the day of Buddha’s birthday” or 부처님 오신 날 (Bucheonim osin nal) meaning “the day when Buddha arrived”. Lotus lanterns cover the entire temple throughout the month which are often flooded down the street. On the day of Buddha’s birth, many temples provide free meals and tea to all visitors. The breakfast and lunch provided are often sanchae bibimbap.

In 2011, South Korea will celebrate the Buddha Birthday on Tuesday, 10th May 2011. source

Happy Wesak 2011 ! Happy Vesak 2011 !

“Enough, Ananda, do not weep and wail! Have I not already told you that all things that are pleasant and delightful are changeable, subject to separation and becoming other?” DN 16.5.14.

“Ananda, for what I have taught and explained to you as Dhamma and discipline will, at my passing, be your teacher.” DN 16.6.1.

The Buddha’s last words, “Now, monks, I declare to you: all conditioned things are of a nature to decay – strive on untiringly.” DN 16.6.7.

The Sutra On The Merit Of Bathing The Buddha

(Tripitaka No. 698)

Translated during the Tang Dynasty by Sramana Sig Yee Jing

Thus have I heard: 

At one time the Blessed One was in Rajagriha, on Eagles Peak, together with one thousand, two hundred and fifty monks. There were also an immeasurable, unlimited multitude of Bodhisattvas and the eight classes of gods, nagas and so forth, who were all assembled. At that time, the Pure Wisdom Bodhisattva was seated in the midst of this assembly. Because he aspired to extend compassion toward all sentient beings, he thought: “by what means do the Buddhas, Tath¨¢gatas, obtain the pure body, furnished with the marks of the great person?” Again he thought: “all classes of living beings are able to meet the Tath¨¢gata and approach him with offerings. The blessings that are obtained are without measure or limit. I do not yet know, however, what offerings living beings will make or what merit they will cultivate after the death of the Tath¨¢gata so as to bring about those roots of good merit that quickly lead to final, supreme enlightenment.” After thinking this, he then arose from his seat and bared his right shoulder, having bowed his head at the feet of the Buddha; he knelt upright, with palms in salutation and spoke to the Buddha, saying, “World Honored One, I wish to ask questions and hope that you deign to acknowledge them.” The Buddha said, “Noble son, I will teach according to what you ask.”

At that time the Pure Wisdom Bodhisattva spoke to the Buddha saying, “By what means do the Buddhas, Tath¨¢gatas, perfectly enlightened ones obtain the pure body, furnished with the marks of the great person? Also, all living beings are able to meet the Tath¨¢gata and approach him with offerings. The blessings that are obtained are without measure or limit. I have not yet discerned what offerings living beings will make or what merit they will cultivate after the death of the Tath¨¢gata so as to bring about those good qualities that quickly lead to final, supreme enlightenment.”

At that time, the World Honored One said to the Pure Wisdom Bodhisattva: “excellent, excellent, that you are able for the sake of future beings to bring forth such questions! Now listen carefully, reflect on this well, and practice as I say. I will explain for you in detail.”

The Pure Wisdom Bodhisattva said, “So be it, World Honored One, I dearly wish to listen.”

The Buddha explained to the Pure Wisdom Bodhisattva: “Noble son, you should know that because giving, morality, patience, vigor, meditation, and wisdom; benevolence, compassion, delight, and should know that because giving, morality, patience, vigor, meditation, and knowledge and experience of liberation; the ten strengths and the four confidences are all the characteristics of the Buddha and are all various kinds of knowledge, virtue, and purity, they are the purity of the Tath¨¢gata.

If the Buddhas, Tath¨¢gatas, are in this way given various offerings with a pure heart¡ªincense, flowers, gems, garlands, banners, parasols, and cushions¡ªdisplayed before the Buddha, multifariously adorning him, and the marvelously scented water is used to bathe his noble form, the dark smoke of the burning incense will carry your mind to the Dharma realm. Furthermore, you celebrate the extraordinary merit of the Tath¨¢gata with food and drink, percussion and stringed music; you will manifest the superb vow to direct your mind to the supreme ocean of omniscience. The merit thereby produced will be immeasurable and without limit; it will be perpetually continued through successive rebirths to the point of enlightenment. Why is this? The blessed wisdom of the Tath¨¢gata is inconceivable, infinite, and unequaled.

Noble son, all Buddhas, World Honored Ones, have three bodies. They are known as the Dharma body or Dharmakaya, the glorified body or the Sambhogakaya, and the manifestation body or the Nirmanakaya. After my Nirvana, if you wish to do homage to these three bodies then you should do homage to my relics. But these are of two kinds: the first is the bodily relic; the second is the Dharma-verse relic. I will now recite the verse:”

All things arise from a cause.

The Tath¨¢gata has explained their cause

and the cessation of the cause of these things.

This the great ascetic has explained.

“If men, women, or the five groups of mendicants would build an image of the Buddha; or if those without strength would deposit one as large as a grain of barley, or build a stupa¡ªits body the size of a jujube, its mast the size of a needle, its parasol equal to a flake of bran, its relic like a mustard seed¡ªor if someone writes the Dharma verse and installs it inside the stupa, it would be like doing homage by offering up a rare jewel. If in accordance with one¡¯s own strength and ability one can be truly sincere and respectful, it (the image or stupa) would be like my present body, equal without difference.

Noble son, if there are beings who are able to make such excellent offerings, they will glorify themselves by achieving the fifteen superb virtues. First, they will always be modest. Second, they will manifest a mind of pure faith. Third, their hearts will be simple and honest. Fourth, they will cleave to good friends. Fifth, they will enter a state of passionless wisdom. Sixth, they will constantly encounter Buddhas. Seventh, they will always maintain the correct teaching. Eighth, they will be able to act according to my teaching. Ninth, they will be reborn in pure Buddha fields according to their wishes. Tenth, if they are reborn among men, they will be noblemen of great families; being respected among men, they will produce joyous thoughts. Eleventh, being born among men, they will naturally set their minds on the Buddha. Twelfth, an army of demons will not be able to harm them. Thirteenth, they will be able in the final age to protect and maintain the True Dharma. Fourteenth, they will be protected by the Buddhas of the ten directions. Fifteenth, they will be able to quickly obtain the five attributes of the Dharma body.”

At that time, the World Honored One uttered these verses:

After my death

You will be able to honor my relics

Some will build stupas

Or images of the Tath¨¢gata.

At the place of the image or stupa,

One who anoints that spot of ground

With various incenses and flowers

Scattering them over its surface

Uses pure, beautifully scented water

To pour onto the body of this image,

Offers it various flavorful drinks and foods,

Fully maintaining it with oblations,

Eulogizes the virtue of the Tath¨¢gata,

Which is endlessly difficult to conceive;

Through the wisdom of skillful means and the supernatural power of the Buddha

Such a one will quickly reach the other shore of Nirvana.

He will obtain the diamond body

Complete with the thirty-two marks of a great person

And the eighty minor signs of excellence.

He will ferry the multitude of living beings to the shore of Nirvana.

At that time, the Pure Wisdom Bodhisattva, having heard these verses, addressed the Buddha saying, “Future living beings will ask, ?(r)why bathe the image?¡¯”

The Buddha answered the Pure Wisdom Bodhisattva: “Because you will equal the Tath¡§¡égata in producing right mindfulness. You will not be attached to the two sides that deceive people with ?(r)emptiness?¡¥ and ?(r)being.¡¯ You will long insatiably for virtuous conduct. The three emancipations, morality, and wisdom will be constantly sought to escape the endless cycle of birth and death. You will produce great compassion toward all living beings. You will aspire to obtain and quickly perfect the three kinds of bodies.

Noble son, I have already expounded for your sake the four noble truths, the twelve conditioned co-productions and the six perfections. Now I teach the method of bathing the image for your sake and the sake of the various kings, princes, ministers, concubines, princesses, gods, nagas, men and demons. Among the various types of homage, this (the bathing of the image) is the best. It excels the giving of the seven jewels equal to the sands of the Ganges.

When you bathe the image, you should use ox-head sandalwood, white sandalwood, red sandalwood, or aloe-wood incenses. You should burn Mountain Top Tulip incense, ?(r)Dragons Brain¡¯ incense, Ling-ling (Mountain) incense, and so forth. On the surface of a clean stone you should grind these to make paste; use this paste to make scented water and place it in a clean vessel. At a clean spot, make an altar with good earth, square or round, its size suited to the circumstances. On top establish the bathing platform and place the Buddha image in the middle. Pour on the scented hot water, purifying and cleansing it, repeatedly pouring the pure water over it. The water that is used must be completely filtered so as not to cause harm to insects. Drops from two fingers of the water with which you bathed the image should be taken and placed on your own head?athis is called ?(r)good luck water.¡¯ Drain off the water onto clean ground without allowing your feet to tread upon it. With a fine, soft towel wipe the image, making it clean. Burn the above name incenses spreading the aroma all around and put the image back in its original place.

“Noble son, the consequence of performing this bathing of the Buddha image is that you and the great multitude of men and gods will presently receive wealth, happiness, and long life without sickness; your every wish will be fulfilled. Your relatives, friends, and family will all be at ease. You will bid a long farewell to the eight conditions of trouble and forever escape the fount of suffering. You will never again receive the body of a woman and will quickly achieve enlightenment.

When you have set up the image and burned the various incenses, face the image, clasp your palms together in pious salutation and recite these praises:

I now bathe the Tath¨¢gata.

His pure wisdom and virtue adorn the assembly.

I vow that those living beings of this period of the five impurities

May quickly witness the pure Dharma body of the Tath¨¢gata.

May the incense of morality, meditation, wisdom and the knowledge and experience of liberation

Constantly perfume every realm of the ten directions.

I vow that the smoke of this incense will likewise

Do the Buddhas work of salvation without measure or limit.

I also vow to put a stop to the three hells and the wheel of samsara,

Completely extinguishing the fires and obtaining the coolness of relief

So that all may manifest the thought of unsurpassed enlightenment

Perpetually escaping the river of desires and advancing to the other shore of Nirvana.”

The Buddha finished expounding this Sutra. At this time there were among this assembly an immeasurable, unlimited number of Bodhisattvas who obtained stainless concentration. The countless gods obtained never lapsing wisdom. The multitude of Voice Hearers vowed to seek the fruits of Buddhahood. The eighty-four thousand living beings all manifested the thought toward unexcelled, complete enlightenment.

At that time, the Pure Wisdom Bodhisattva said to the Buddha: “World Honored One, being fortunate to receive the compassion and pity of the Great Teacher (the Buddha), we shall teach the method of bathing the image. I will now convert kings, ministers, and all those of good faith, cheer, or merit. Every day I will bathe the noble image to procure great blessings. I pledge to always receive and carry out with pleasure

“The Sutra On The Merit Of Bathing The Buddha.”