by Venerable Bhikkhuni Seri
We started the final preparations for Vesak a day before the celebration. The work crew was running late due to the heavy rains and the bad traffic. I was getting the hall ready
for the meditation day tomorrow by myself. Ajahn Vayama helped to dust and clean the Buddha statue and tidied up the book shelf a couple of days before and Jacky had worked to get the house ready earlier. However, I do feel I am all alone. I was very delighted when the crew arrived safely with enthusiasm despite the severe weather.
The crew steadily and patiently put up the beautiful lights and the traditional Sri Lankan lanterns. We also hung up some Buddhist flags. The magic moment came when we
switched on the beautiful lights. It was like “the path to the deathless” was lit up. It was inspiring to see the lights. Our hearts swelled because we were the ones who put in the energy and effort with great faith and gratitude to the Lord Buddha. We finished late that night but we went to bed with lots of joy and happiness.
We celebrated Vesak, the birth, enlightenment and the passing away of the Lord Buddha
on Saturday, 5th May 2012. Sixteen people participated in the celebration. We spent the day meditating and contemplating the Dhamma. As the Buddha said to Venerable Ananda in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta in the Digha Nikaya:
“…And yet, Ananda, whatever monk, nun, male or female lay-follower dwells practising the Dhamma properly, and perfectly fulfils the Dhamma-way, he or she honours the Tathagata, reveres and esteems him and pays him the supreme homage. Therefore, Ananda, ” We will dwell practising the Dhamma properly and perfectly fulfil the Dhamma-way”— this must be your watchword.’….”
“…’Lord, what shall we do with the Tathagata’s remains?’ ‘Do not worry yourselves about the funeral arrangements, Ananda. You should strive for the highest goal, devote yourselves to the highest goal, and dwell with your minds tirelessly, zealously devoted to the highest goal…..”
( Translated by Maurice Walshe )
All of us spent the day watering the Bodhi tree in our heart, following and honouring the instructions of the Lord Buddha.
This year the theme of the day’s practice and reflection was Metta, lovingkindness. We looked at various suttas in which the Buddha taught about Metta, the practice and the blessings of Metta. I love the sutta from the Itivuttaka, 27 :The Development of Loving-kindness:
“This was said by the Lord…..
‘Bhikkhus, whatever grounds there are for making merits productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness. The mind-release of loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant.
‘ Just as the radiance of all the stars does not equal a sixteenth part of the moon’s radiance, but the moon’s radiance surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness……’
‘Just as in the last month of the rainy season, in the autumn, when the sky is clear and free of clouds, the sun, on ascending, dispels the darkness of space and shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the mind-release of loving-kindness…..’
( translated by John D. Ireland )
Throughout the day,we especially focused on various practices and ways that we can make loving-kindness, metta, our constant dwelling place. We looked closely at the sutta,” The blessings of Lovingkindness” in the Anguttara Nikaya:
“If, O monks, the liberation of the mind by loving-kindness is developed and cultivated, frequently practised, made one’s vehicle and foundation, firmly established , consolidated, and properly undertaken, eleven blessings may be expected…..”
( Translated and edited by Nyanaponika Thera and Bhikkhu Bodhi )
We finished a day of practice with an inspiring reminder from the Udana 8.3, by the Lord Buddha: “For one who clings, motion exists; but for one who clings not, there is no motion. Where no motion is, there is stillness. Where stillness is, there is no craving. Where no craving is, there is neither coming nor going. Where no coming nor going is, there is neither arising nor passing away. Where neither arising nor passing away is, there is neither this world nor a world beyond, nor a state between. This, verily, is the end of suffering.”
( Found in ‘The Four Sublime States’ by Nyanaponika Thera )
On this Vesak Day, Ajahn Vayama did not offer any reflections. But she stayed throughout the day meditating with us. Ajahn Vayama’s presence inspired all of us. Even though her body is sick and disabled, she still continues to practice and find peace and refuge in the Buddha and the Dhamma.
We must acknowledge a few special offerings for this Vesak celebration. Michelle offered her time and energy to make a special stand for the Lord Buddha to sit on, in memory of her father Roland Richardson, in time for the Vesak celebration. Peggy offered the material for the stand in memory of her good friend Millie Yeap Ee Moy. We also appreciate the kindness of some Sri Lankan supporters, Dhyan and Lali Caldera, who sent some traditional lanterns from Sri Lanka for Vesak, and Kamaj Wanigasuriya who offfered the Buddhist flags. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
May all beings be well , happy and at peace.
Happy Vesak to all of you!