TMC Sutta Study: 13th May 2009 (Wed)
- Dear Dharma Friends,
WHAT VESAK MEANS TO ME
Vesak Day is when my family and I would visit some obscure and uncrowded
Buddhist temple (usually one we have not been to before), where we could
enjoy the peace as we remind ourselves of this most sacred day.
In 1950, the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) declared Vesak Day to fall
on the first full moon day of May. In other words, it is an uposatha or
precept day. It is a day when we put more effort to keep at least the five
precepts, by spending quiet time with the family, or keeping in touch with
the Dharma, or alone meditating.
It is a day to keep in touch with our own self, away from the madding
crowd. Those who share the same ideal can gather together to do this, too,
and have Sutta Study and other retreat-like activities. In this way we will
taste the true spirit of Vesak.
Vesak celebrates the Buddha's birthday. He was born a human being like any
of us. This means that any of us can become Buddha if we want to, which is
effectively becoming the most evolved of beings within a certain
world-cycle. Or, it is like being the captain of a huge ship. If we cannot
be the captain, it is good enough to be a good crew all journeying towards
Vesak Day secondly marks "Buddha Day," that is the awakening of Gotama to
true reality and becoming the Buddha. What does awakening (bodhi) mean?
Biological evolution brings us to the highest level of growth as a species
or group. Then we have to develop as individuals, that is, go through the
spiritual evolution. While biological evolution brings us beyond the animal
and subhuman levels, spiritual evolution brings us beyond the human and the
divine so that we are truly liberated from all suffering, human or divine.
On the Buddha's parinirvana (final passing away), which is the third
significance of Vesak, he reminds us to be "an island unto yourself; make
the Dharma as an island" (D 16). This means that we have the potential to
be truly happy, and to be liberated from suffering. The answer to life's
problems lies within our minds. The answer is not "out there," but in here
(in our minds).
The Buddha's message is very simple: if we do not help ourselves, who can?
Religion is mostly based on stories and our idea of imaginary things in
which we are told to have faith. But the stillness of mind is something we
can all experience, if we spend some quiet moments alone meditating, say,
watching the breath.
When our mind is calm, it becomes clear. In that clarity, we will notice
there are destructive as well as wholesome patterns of behaviour. Often
getting angry is a destructive pattern of behaviour; so is being constantly
sad or depressive. We should spend some quiet time, and question such
mental patterns. Ask WHY, then some answer will appear in your mind; ask
WHY again, and so on, until we come to understand what is really going on.
This final part, we have to find out for ourselves.
Then there is the wholesome pattern that we should notice in ourselves. It
makes us feel really peaceful and happy. And it is not dependent on
anything outside of ourselves; for, such a state would be dependent on
something else. We should seek for the non-dependent peaceful happiness
within ourselves. Where does it come from? Seek and you will find itin your
Be at peace with your breath. It has always been there, trying to keep up
with you. Just let your breathing be this time; joyfully observe it like
you would watch a sleeping baby or a happy kitten or a colourful sunset.
The secret of Vesak is this: We can be truly happy by being emotionally
independent: our happiness is not dependent on others or outside things or
other people's ideas.
Buddhism, above all else, is about spiritual evolution. It is the
transmission of stillness from the Buddha to us. Life's storm may rage
around us, but there is always this eye of stillness where we are. This is
the true meaning of Vesak.
May the spirit of Vesak be always be with you in the calm and clarity of
(As this is a reflection, you are invited to read it again so that you can
relate to it. You might like to highlight sentences that you like, and
reflect further on them.)
A very happy Vesak:
may all good wishes be fulfilled and true happiness be yours!
THIS WEEK'S STUDY:
Title1: (Anatta) Udayi Sutta (S 35.234 = SD 26.4)
Neither the body nor the mind has a self.
Download study text from:
Title 2: Cula Saccaka Sutta (M 35)
The conversion of a boastful debater.
Download study text from:
Date: 13th May 2009 (Wed)
Free Guided Sitting Meditation: 7.20 -7.40 pm
Sutta study: 7.40 - 9.00 pm
Venue: The Minding Centre (how to get there:
Please forward this email for the benefit of others.
With metta & mudita,
The Minding Centre (under the Dharma auspices of Poh Ming Tse)
Blk 644 Bukit Batok Central, #01-68 (2nd flr),
(near Bukit Batok MRT/Interchange) Singapore 650644.
HP: 8211 0879
Dharmafarer (Sutta) website: http://dharmafarer.googlepages.com
Meditation courses & therapy: http://themindingcentre.googlepages.com