SUKHO BUDDHĀNAṂ UPPĀDO! Happy is the birth of all Buddhas!
Vesak is that time of the year when we recall the birth, enlightenment and the great passing away or MAHĀ-PARINIBBĀNA of the Buddha. These three important events are significant to our own lives, as they teach us how to live a peaceful way of life and to realise our full potential.
It is also the time for us to draw inspiration from the life of the Buddha and to aspire to gain our true freedom by walking in the footsteps of the Buddha.
In order to gain true freedom and enlightenment, we need to develop two things: merits and wisdom. The Buddha developed all kinds of merits through the perfection of virtues such as generosity; morality; renunciation; wisdom; effort; patience / endurance; truthfulness; determination; loving-kindness; and equanimity.
It is through these perfections that the Buddha was able to overcome all the obstacles and challenges he encountered. When he was attacked by the wild, intoxicated elephant, Nālāgiri, or challenged by demons such as Ālavaka and other heretics, the Buddha simply resorted to the act of Truth (SACCA KIRIYĀ) based on the virtues he had perfected. He never resorted to hatred, revenge or violence.
Besides developing merits through the cultivation of the ten perfections, the Buddha also showed us how to cultivate wisdom through the development and purification of the mind. This is clearly expounded in the Noble Eightfold Path, namely: Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Bodily Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.
These eight path factors can be understood in terms of SīLA – precepts or good conduct, SAMĀDHI – concentration, and PAÑÑĀ – wisdom.
The aim is to purify our body speech and mind from the unskilful tendencies of greed, hatred and delusion.
Through SīLA or the restraint of speech and body actions, the tendencies of greed, hatred and delusion can be prevented from manifesting at the physical and verbal levels, but not at the mental level. Hence the need to develop SAMĀDHI or concentration, to cultivate calmness and insight in order to prevent the tendencies of greed, hatred and delusion from manifesting at the mental level. However, unskilful tendencies can still manifest when one’s mind is out of concentration, or when the path factors of effort, mindfulness and concentration are not in proper focus. Hence the need to develop PAÑÑĀ, wisdom and insight, through the cultivation of Right Understanding and Right Thought.
The threefold training in SīLA SAMĀDHI PAÑÑĀ, which enables us to overcome greed, hatred and delusion, can be effectively realised through the systematic cultivation of SAMATHA-VIPASSANĀ – calmness and insight meditation.
These practices along with merit-making – such as the offering of lights, offering of alms food to the Sangha and other acts of generosity (DĀNA) – are often promoted during Vesak celebrations. They also include the observance of precepts (SīLA) and the cultivation of Metta and Mindfulness and other qualities that contribute to the development and purification of the mind (BHĀVANĀ).
The true significance of Vesak lies in the universal peace message of the Buddha which shows us how to overcome the tendencies of greed, hatred and delusion – the root causes of all human problems and challenges in the world today.
Since wars and other man-made and natural disasters are beyond our individual control, giving rise to uncertainties in our lives, it is important for us to turn within to control our own minds through the cultivation of SAMATHA-VIPASSANĀ, and sow the seed of enlightenment.
On this occasion of Vesak, let us extend goodwill to all and pray for peace, harmony and stability in the country, and in the world at large.
May all suffering beings, be free from suffering.
May all those in sorrow, be free from sorrow.
May all those in fear and danger, be free from fear and danger.
May all beings be well and happy.
Happy Vesak to all!
 DASA PĀRAMĪ (Ten Perfections)
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