Today, as the full moon day of the fourth Tibetan lunar month, is the Tibetan observance of Saka Dawa and it is also Vesak Puja in Thailand and Poson Poya in Sri Lanka. Poson Poya commemorates the day in which King Asoka‘s son, the Arahat Mahinda, officially introduced Buddhism to Ceylon in the 3rd century BCE. In the Tibetan and Thai Buddhist traditions, today marks the celebration of the Buddha’s Birth, Enlightenment, and Paranirvana. According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche of the FPMT, the karmic effects of meritorious acts which are performed on this day are multiplied exponentially – about 100 million times. He also offers some good advice and recommends the following specific practices for Saka Dawa:
So to all of my Tibetan and Theravada Buddhist friends, I wish you a very happy and meritorious Saka Dawa, Vesak Puja and Poson Poya!
This post is dedicated to the memory of Adam Yauch, also known as MCA, who passed away yesterday at the age of 47. He had been battling salivary gland and lymph node cancer for several years. He was one of the founding members of Beastie Boys, and he directed many of their videos under the moniker of Nathanial Hornblower. The Beastie Boys started out as a hardcore punk band inspired by the Bad Brains (which is where they derived their name), later expanding into hip hop and dance. They subsequently helped make rap music even more mainstream throughout the years.
As a practicing Buddhist, Adam founded the Milarepa Fund and also organized the Tibetan Freedom Concerts. After 9/11, he and the Beastie Boys organized New Yorkers Against Violence, as a benefit concert for those victims who were least likely to recieve much help elsewhere.
As I noted in my last post, for many Buddhists today marks the observance of Vesak Puja because it is the first full moon of May. For many people in Mexico and the United States, today is also Cinco de Mayo which commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). So today is certainly an auspicious day for many throughout the world. But that isn’t all.
This full moon is also considered to be a “supermoon” or “harvest moon” because this is the closest point that the moon gets to the Earth on its elliptical orbit. This will make it bigger and brighter than at any other point of the year. But that is not the only thing that is happening in the night sky tonight. There will also be the Eta Aquarid meteor shower.
These meteors are actually fragments of Halley’s Comet and they tend to leave large streaks in the sky. However, the harvest moon may be bright enough to wash out any of the smaller meteors, so they may not be very easily detectable tonight. You will probably have a better chance of seeing the meteors a few hours before dawn. Regardless, there are plenty of reasons to keep your eyes on the night skies tonight.
The following video is of Adam Yauch performing Bodhisattva Vow live in 1994.
As I noted in my post Zombie Jesus and Buddha’s Birthday, many different traditions celebrate the Buddha’s birth on different dates, such as Vesak (or “Visakah Puja”) which marks the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha all in one day. This celebration is called Vesak because it is the name of the month in the Indian calendar.
China/HK and Taiwan celebrated Vesak already on April 28th, in accordance with Chinese Mahayana liturgy. However, most Theravadin traditions will observe Vesak on either May 5th or 6th, with the exception of Thailand. They, along with Tibetan Buddhists (who call this day “Saga Dawa Duchen” or simply “Saka Dawa”), will observe it on June 4th.
Vesak is a day to recommit to our practice and study of Buddhist teachings. To paraphrase Ven. Mahinda:
“The significance of Vesak lies with the Buddha and his universal peace message to mankind…The teaching of the Buddha became a great civilising force wherever it went. It appeals to reason and freedom of thought, recognising the dignity and potentiality of the human mind. It calls for equality, fraternity and understanding, exhorting its followers to avoid evil, to do good and to purify their minds.”
May the three auspicious days of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana be a blessing to all of us. May we all attain the wisdom and courage that can liberate us from all stress and suffering!
Also, on a different note, fellow blogger Priyesh at Meditation 4 All nominated me for the Sunshine Award! This award is given to blogs that contribute to the blogosphere in a positive or inspirational way. I am extremely grateful for the nomination, and even more grateful for everyone who visits this blog. You are all my inspiration to keep doing what I do!
1. Thank the person who nominated you and write a post about it.
2. Answer ten questions about yourself.
3. Pass the award on to 10 or 12 bloggers you enjoy, link to their blogs, and let them know you nominated them.
Blogs I Nominate (in no particular order):
1. Fierce Buddhist
2. Zen and the Art of Borderline Maintenance
3. Fundamental Happiness
4. Live. Grow. Nourish. Create.
5. The Heart Drive
6. Serene One
7. Surface Nuisance
8. Living in the Now
9. Five Reflections
10. Tales from the Lou
Ten Q&A’s about myself
1. Favorite drink? Tea, of course.
2. Favorite food? This is a tough question. But I’ll go with vegetarian chili because its soooo yummy.
3. Age? 26
4. Favorite time of day? Sunset
5. Favorite time of year? Fall
6. Favorite animal? Another tough question. I love all different types of animals, but I do think megabats are amazing creatures.
7. Favorite movie? Suburbia.
8. Favorite vacation?: The beach, of course!
9. Physical activity?: I do a lot of walking, but I have to say my favorite “physical” activity would be just sitting, counting my breaths.
10. Favorite thing?: No-thing.