May the Buddha’s dispensation shine forever! | Sunday Observer

May the Buddha’s dispensation shine forever!

5 June, 2021

Dispelling illusion and planting the seeds of generosity, compassion and love in our hearts the moon of Vesak has emanated a new ray of light on the country.

Speaking of the importance of Vesak the key point is adhering to the Buddha’s teachings on this special day. Colonel Henry Steel Olcott must be credited with declaring this meritorious day as a public holiday. Vesak marks the three important events in the life of the Buddha - the Birth, Enlightenment and passing away.

The story behind Vesak is known by many. A young ascetic by the name of Sumedha in his endeavour to achieve the spiritual realm came to know that Buddha Deepankara was on his way to the city. Sumedha wanted to know whether he would be the future Buddha.

It is believed that Sumedha was reborn in many existences. There are also around five factors looked into by Sumeda such as the right place, right time, right area, right econtinent, right Exalted One was conceived in the womb of Queen Mahamaya.

Amazingly after the prince’s birth, at each step the prince had taken a lotus flower had bloomed. Afterwards, the prince declared thus,” I am the chief of the world and has no equal in the world. I am supreme. This is my last birth. No rebirth again for me.” These were the glorious words declared by Lord Buddha just after his birth. However, in a twist of fate his beloved mother Queen Mahamaya passed away seven days after Prince Siduhath’s birth.

The Great Renunciation:

The thoughts awakened in Prince Siddhartha was thus. “ Youth, the prime of life ends in old age and man’s senses fail him at a time when they are most needed. The hale and hearty lose their vigour and health when disease creeps in. Finally, death comes, sudden, perhaps and unexpected and puts an end to this brief span of life. Surely, there must be an escape from this unsatisfactoriness from ageing and death.”

The well-known story is told by Ashvaghosha in the first century CE. According to the sources, Prince Siddhartha Gautama is said to have been born in the royal family called Shakya. At the time of his birth, a prophet foretold that he would either become a great king or an enlightened teacher. What made the prince think about this Samsara deeply was seeing the ‘four passing sights’—Cold age, sickness, death, and a wandering ascetic. Afterwards, he determined to renounce his royal life and seek enlightenment. Prince Sidhdhartha had realised the vanity of life.

After having cut his long locks with his sword he determined to go to his teachers to seek advice. First, the prince went to his teachers by the name of Alarakalama and Uddakaramaputta. The prince found that their experience and knowledge were far behind his own goal. Afterwards he went to Uruwela which was a very calm grove. Near the grove was a hamlet. The five sages called Kondañña, Bhaddiya, Vappa, Mahânâma, and Assaji admired Siddhartha’s spiritual goal and joined him. Prince Siddhartha settled on a middle way in which there was a balance between the two extremes.

Buddha’s visit to Sri Lanka:

Sr Lanka becomes a meritorious land on earth mainly because of the Buddha’s visits to Sri Lanka. It is Sri Lanka that Buddha visited thrice. The first visit by The Exalted One was to Mahiyanganaya nine months after attaining Buddhahood on a Duruthu poya day. The Exalted One visited a large gathering of Yakkas. The Yakkas begged the Exalted One to release them from terrors. Finally, through his wisdom Buddha could win the Yakkas and Rakshas to Buddhism.

The Buddha paid the second visit to Nagadeepa in the fifth year of Buddhahood. The Exalted One foresaw the imminent war between two Naga kings- Cullodara and Mahodara over a gem studded throne. After having settled their dispute The Exalted One handed over the throne to the Naga king Maniakkitha of Kelaniya.

The third visit that the Buddha paid to Sri Lanka was on the invitation of Maniakkitha Naga king. In this visit the Buddha placed an imprint of his left foot on the top of Sumanakuta upon the request of a Naga prince named Sumana Saman.

As believed by many, Sumana Saman was appointed as the lay guardian of Sumanakuta by the Buddha. Sumana Saman is regarded as the deity of Samanala kanda. At present the pilgrims are believed to climb Siripadha by the grace of Sumana Saman.

Vesak lanterns:

Vesak lanterns come in a myriad of colours and are decorated with frills. They depict the serenity of Vesak. The glory of Vesak has been injected into our veins. The eight sides of the lanterns portray the Noble Eightfold Path.

01. Right understanding

02. Right thought

03. Right speech

04. Right action

05. Right livelihood

06. Right effort

07. Right mindfulness

08. Right concentration

These eight factors promote and perfect the three essential areas such asethical conduct , mental discipline and wisdom.

Ethical conduct (Sila): Ethical conduct is built on the universal love and compassion for all the living beings in the world. This includes the main three factors that come under the Noble Eightfold path such as right speech , right action and right livelihood.

Mental discipline:

Mental discipline stresses the three factors that come under the Noble Eightfold path. They are right effort right mindfulness and right concentration.

Wisdom: what has constituted wisdom in the Noble Eightfold Path are right thought and right understanding.

The frills of Vesak lanterns:

To add an aesthetic value to the lanterns we decorate them with frills. However, the symbols portrayed by the frills are unknown to many. Frills depict the ups and downs, happiness and sorrow of life. True, some countries like India are inundated with deaths due to Covid-19. But it is not good to lose sight of the fact that this global pandemic is a salutary reminder of the doomsday.

Obviously, the unimaginable changes that have emerged in this world now can easily be seen. This year people have saved 48 animal species from extinction. The ozone hole over the Antarctica Ocean reduced. Whales came back to the Atlantic Ocean after more than 100 years. Great Britain reported the smallest number of people in history who became infected with HIV. All in all,Indeed this is indeed the golden opportunity for all of us the to behave according to the Dhamma while adhering to the teachings of the Buddha. May the Buddha’s dispensation shine forth blissfully forever !

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