Hsi Lai Temple is preparing for the Buddha’s Birthday Celebration on April 30—virtually, by honoring the Buddha’s life on YouTube-broadcasted Dharma services and offering an online platform to virtually Bathe the Buddha. Bathing the Buddha is a tradition that reminds people everywhere cleanse their minds and hearts with vows to do good, say good, and think good, and to reflect mindfully on the Buddha’s extraordinary life.
Over 2600 years ago, the Buddha’s birth at Lumbini Grove as a Kshatriya Prince marked an auspicious turning point for all sentient beings in the world. Indeed, the Buddha lived up to a prophesy shortly after his birth that he would become a great leader who could transcend all time and liberate all sentient beings. Growing up with a heart full of compassion and goodness, the Buddha decided to leave his life of secular comforts to seek the truth to end all suffering. He cultivated his spiritual development through dedicated practice and eventually found the Middle Path, upon which he attained Enlightenment after defeating the evil Mara. After his Awakening, the Buddha decided to teach the Dharma for the benefit of all sentient beings and propagated his teachings until he attained final Nirvana at the age of 80. The Buddha’s great legacy teaches us the universal truth, the Dharma, which we should reflect on deeply, especially in society today. Although our nations have been plagued with a terrible pandemic, good could spring from the darkness like a beam of light if we live faithfully in the Dharma during this trying time. Impermanence, one of the universal truths, is especially prominent all around us today as the entire world has had to undergo massive changes to combat the COVID19 virus that has changed all our lives, forever. But even this will change, and just as the virus has spread throughout the world, it will cease, like all things according to universal law.
To reflect on the Buddha’s life and teachings, and especially the relevance of the Dharma to our lives today amidst the COVID19 pandemic, the Dharma School for Youth and Kids teachers have continued holding weekly online workshops. On Sunday, April 26, the weekend before the Buddha’s Birthday, the Dharma School teachers each prepared a short presentation on one of the milestones of the Buddha’s life. From his auspicious birth, to the major turning points in his life, and finally, to his passing into Nirvana, the teachers reflected mindfully on the Buddha’s honorable life by retelling his story.
It is important to remember that each one of us is a teacher, and we should all take the time, especially now, to honor the Buddha on his birthday, and to learn about and reflect on his legacy and the Dharma. We hope and pray that every sentient being could be inspired by the Buddha’s birth and continue the Bodhisattva path to liberation. We also urge everyone, young and old, children and parents, to take this time at home to stay safe and reflect on the Buddha’s life and lessons. Make the most out of this lock-down by opening your hearts and freeing your minds with the Dharma.