This joyful festival falls on May 25th this year in East Asia, or on May 2nd /3rd in Nepal, Sri Lanka and India, to link with the Full Moon. Celebrate, and set your spirit free!
THE FESTIVAL OF WESAK, OR ‘BUDDHA DAY’
The Buddha first became Enlightened 2500 years ago, in meditation beneath the sacred Bodhi tree. ‘Wesak’ celebrates this, along with the victory of gentleness over the forces of darkness. It is the most important of the Buddhist festivals and takes place on different dates, depending on the country – however, it is always linked to the cycles of the Moon. The lunar cycle is significant to Buddhists because at full moon the Buddha and his monks would assemble to discuss Dharma (truth) breaking their habit of silence for a while. Modern Buddhists usually mark Wesak by meeting on the Sunday nearest Full Moon to celebrate and meditate.
WHAT IS BUDDHISM?
Buddhism is a path of spiritual development leading to insight. Buddhist practices such as meditation are a way of changing yourself in order to develop compassion and wisdom. This tradition has existed for thousands of years. All those who reach Enlightenment are termed ‘Buddha’, although Siddhartha Gautama was the original. Buddhist teachings are clear and practical. They include
• nothing is fixed or permanent
• actions have consequences
• change is possible.
Buddhists follow five precepts;
• do not kill
• do not tell lies
• conduct sexual relations in a proper manner
• do not steal
• do not become intoxicated
However, on special feast days such as Wesak these precepts are extended to eight, to include humility, morality and simplicity
Buddhism is non-dogmatic, non-violent and tolerant. It teaches the practical methods of meditation which enable you to become wise and compassionate. There are 350 million Buddhists, and a growing number are Westerners.
The Buddha advised his followers that if they were to thrive they should ‘meet together regularly and in large numbers.’ All over the world Buddhists flock to their temples to show devotion and gratitude. They chant scriptures, burn incense and hoist the Buddhist flag. They sing in praise of the Triple Gem, The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings) and The Sangha (the Buddhist community). Offerings of joss-sticks, flowers and candles may be brought to the local teacher. People are encouraged to be vegetarian for the day. Also birds, insects and animals are released by the thousands in a 'symbolic act of liberation'; of giving freedom to those who are unjustly imprisoned. Some devout Buddhists wear a simple white dress and spend the whole day in temples, renewing their commitment to the Eight Precepts (see above).
Many people believe that when the thoughts of peace-loving people unite, the whole world can be helped. Even if you are not a Buddhist, celebrating Wesak can bring tranquillity and insight into your life.
• set aside at least 10 minutes each day to meditate (see FIVE STEPS TO LEARN THE SKILL OF MEDITATION on this site, also FIVE TIPS TO BRING MEDITATION INTO DAILY LIFE)
• burn a joss stick in thanksgiving for wisdom and gentleness
• light a candle as a symbol of enlightenment
• let go of hostile, unkind or negative thoughts with love (not guilt)
• perform an act of kindness in a spirit of compassion
• eat simple, unprocessed food and refrain from meat – this is a great opportunity for a detox!
• consult a spiritual teacher, such as those available in TheCircle
Observing Buddhist wisdom can make a great difference to your life. However, you may feel you need more personal and immediate support. Don’t worry, advice is readily available to you. We have monthly horoscopes to help you. Get free horoscopes and psychic insight at TheCircle. If you want to know more about yourself and learn to be more peaceful and wise, call one of our expert readers at TheCircle without delay
PUBLISHED: 21 MAY 2015