Celebration of Shakyamuni Buddha's Birthday

From:Voice of Longquan     Author:Voice of Longquan     Time:2018-05-22 13:25:17
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The eighth day of the fourth lunar month is the birthday of Shakyamuni Buddha. Shakyamuni Buddha was a prince of Kapilavastu in ancient India (modern-day Nepal). The earth trembled at the birth of the Buddha, who pointed up to the sky with one finger and down to the earth with another finger. Nowadays Buddhist devotees from all over the world celebrate the Buddha's birthday through rituals such as bathing the statues of him.

Shakyamuni Buddha was an enlightened sage who attained a sublime understanding of the universe. He was endowed with merit, virtue, wisdom, compassion, and perfection. His birth coincided with many miracles and auspicious signs. According to classical records, when Shakyamuni Buddha was born, the deaf regained hearing; the blind restored their sights; the dumb began to speak; the hunchback stood tall; the cripples walked ably; the prisoners were set free, and the vicious beasts no longer attacked people. Summarily, his birth was marked by many auspicious occurrences that did not accompany the arrivals of ordinary people.

Despite being born as a royal prince, Shakyamuni Buddha had no intention to inherit the throne. On the contrary, he wanted to leave home and live a monastic life to find relief from life's suffering. It was only because of his effort in spreading Buddhism throughout the ages that we now have the opportunity to come to the monastery today to study the Dharma.

What drove the Buddha to develop such resolve, to strive for cultivation, and to aspire for Buddhahood? Before Shakyamuni Buddha renounced his secular life, he witnessed conditions commonly affecting people-old age, sickness, and death. On one occasion, he felt sad when he saw an old man with a wrinkled face losing his sight, his teeth, and his hearing. On another occasion, he was outside the city gate and saw a sick man dying in pain. Driven by empathy, he felt as if he was sick and in pain. Yet on a third occasion, he saw a corpse outside the city gate and found the agony surrounding death indescribable. Then on a separate instance, he saw a monk who behaved with great dignity and possessed a commanding presence. From these different sightings, Shakyamuni Buddha realized that it was inevitable for a human body to experience aging, sickness, and death and that there was no escape from suffering that lurks around us.

Humans are destined to die. What happens after death? Where do we go? Do we still exist afterwards? Can we live in a state of neither life nor death? Can we enter a new life that is better than our current one? Can we obtain more joy, more happiness, and more perfection? Shakyamuni Buddha agonized over these questions. Eventually, he resolved to leave home to become a monk, and after living as an ascetic for six years, he attained enlightenment and acquired the sublime knowledge of the Ultimate Truth.

Tags:Shakyamuni, Buddha, Birthday

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