by Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni
Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage celebrated Vesak Day on Tuesday, 13th of May with a day of quiet contemplation and meditation.
Volunteers came to the Hermitage a few days before the Vesak Day celebration. We put up the Vesak lanterns, lights and the Buddhist flags. I loved the beautiful Vesak decorations that brightened the Hermitage like the Dhamma that lightened the darkness.
The preparations for Vesak Day also involved dusting and cleaning the Buddha statute in the Sala, polishing the shrine table, vacuuming and dusting the Sala. When I was feeling tired during the preparation, a few days before conducting the Vesak Meditation Day, I reminded myself I am offering a gift out of gratitude from my heart, to honour the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha on Vesak Day, the day Buddhists celebrate the birth, enlightenment and passing away – Mahaparinibbana of the Buddha. The reminder gave me lots of happiness.
We had a mild day that was very suitable for meditation on 13th of May. About sixteen participants came together to practise at Patacara Bhikkhuni Hermitage and to celebrate the Vesak Day with Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni and myself.
The theme of investigation for this Vesak Day was ‘Forgiveness’. I related ‘Forgiveness’ with the words: letting go, to release, release from a burden, liberation and freedom. It was like the swans, gliding on and out of samsara as the beautiful verse in Dhammapada 91:
Alert to the needs of the journey,
those on the path of awareness,
like swans, glide on,
leaving behind their former resting places.
‘Forgiveness’ does not excuse or change the fact that unskilful and hurtful actions had been committed either by ourselves or by others. It does not change the kamma. We, and those we forgive, still have to bear the consequences of the unskilful actions, whether they are by body, speech or mind. Forgiveness practice is a gradual process that we willingly and intentionally undertake to release ourselves from the burden of hurts, pains, blames or negativities. Each time we undertake the work, we will loosen the grip on the negative states of mind little by little and have the courage to open our heart to love, compassion, happiness, peace and freedom. Like a bird flies through the wide open sky, without any burden and is free.
We also need to be aware that ‘Forgiveness’ alone is not enough. We need to make amends. We need to make an effort and determination to restrain ourselves and not to do the unskilful action again in the future.
(from Nava Puja)
If, by body, speech or mind, I have carelessly done wrong, may I be forgiven, O Tathagata of great wisdom.
By acknowledging my transgressions, open and unconcealed before the Buddha most wise, may my mind be always pure.
If, by body, speech or mind, others have done me wrong, I forgive them everything now before the fully enlightened Buddha.
Through my readiness to forgive, may they be safe and free from sorrow and may my thoughts be filled with love and compassion.
If, by body, speech or mind, I have done others good, I gladly share my merit with all before the fully enlightened Buddha.
With a mind free from pride, I rejoice in my own good deeds, wishing that all beings everywhere may share in my happiness.