Vesak Message 2017

Posted by on May 10, 2017

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The occasion of Vesak is a time to reflect on the Buddha, his enlightenment and the benefit he brought to the world through his teachings, the Dhamma. It is a time to reaffirm our faith in the Triple Gem and our commitment to practise and apply the Dhamma in our lives.

The Dhamma serves to prepare our minds to face the unexpected, to deal with whatever situations that arise in our lives: old age, sickness, death, natural or man-made calamities and other misfortunes.

We prepare our minds to weather all situations by cultivating a deep sense of faith and devotion towards the Buddha, and through the development of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness:  mindfulness on the body, feelings, mind, and Dhamma[1]. As we develop the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, we will gradually become more aware of the true nature of life and will be able to see things as they truly are – impermanent, unsatisfactory, and non-self (ANICCA, DUKKHA, ANATTA).

In the process of developing our minds, it is essential to have the guidance of teachers who have walked the path and their encouragement in order for us to persevere in overcoming obstacles and obscurations. Once we have learned how to bring whatever obstacles that arise into the path of practice, we will experience transformation within ourselves and develop greater confidence in the Dhamma. This will enable us to eventually gain insight into the true nature of life. Then we will be able to remain equanimous whatever happens. We will be able to accept things as they come, whether the situation be positive, negative or neutral.  This is the power of the Dhamma, the power of understanding the truth.

We are living in very turbulent and uncertain times.  While we ourselves may be able to carry on our lives in relative peace, we cannot be complacent. Whatever happens in other parts of the world – conflicts, disasters, and so on – will affect us indirectly, if not directly.  We will start to see suffering manifesting before our very eyes, greater suffering than we can presently imagine.

As the Dhamma unfolds, we must use this opportunity to spur on our practice, and not continue to live in a careless or carefree manner. We must learn to appreciate everything we have – food, clothing, shelter – when we see how many millions of people are displaced. Above all, we must cherish our precious human life and make good use of our lives for something higher than simply acquiring worldly gains and clamouring for more and more comforts and luxuries.

The process of awakening involves the realisation of the nature of the world – both the inner and outer world. The more conflict there is in the outer world, the more we need to have greater peace and stillness in the inner world in order to maintain balance. That is why the Dhamma is so important, to provide inner peace of mind and prepare us to face the challenges of this time.

In turbulent times, taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha is the most important thing we can do. We must take refuge deep from our hearts, again and again, until refuge becomes part and parcel of our being. Then whatever happens we will always have the blessings, guidance and protection of the Triple Gem.

It is also important to dedicate merits, to pray for the peace, harmony and stability of the world; and to make aspirations, to reaffirm our commitment to walk the Dhamma’s path – a path of peace – in the midst of conflict and strife.  Furthermore, we must come together as like-minded people, to support each other both spiritually and physically through this difficult period.

During this period, as our eyes are opened to the unsatisfactory nature of samsaric existence we will experience a greater shift in consciousness. We will see the urgency of Dhamma practice, and we will also have greater opportunity to extend loving-kindness and compassion to those who are suffering.

We must take whatever arises onto the Dhamma’s path. If we can recall how the Buddha used different circumstances over countless lifetimes to perfect virtues such as generosity, patience, determination and so on, we will also have the courage and determination to use the circumstances in our own lives in the same way. On this occasion of Vesak, let us reaffirm our commitment to live according to the Dhamma and to walk the noble path in order to free ourselves, and others, from all suffering.

May we extend our thoughts of loving-kindness to all, that may all beings be well and happy.

 


 

[1] For more further explanation about the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, see Venerable Mahinda (Aloka Foundation, 2014) “Awakening with Mettapp. 54-66.