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Let go of the usual noise of every day life in London by joining Buddhists in the celebration of Buddha Day

Mike Murray, director of Jamyang Buddhist Centre, and Spiritual Programme Coordinator, writes about the celebration of the upcoming Holy Day in the Buddhist calendar.

Descent from Tushita is one of the four major Mahayana Buddhist holy days - the Day of Miracles, the day the Buddha was Enlightened, the day the Buddha first taught the Four Noble Truths, and this Buddha Day, which celebrates the Buddha’s return to Sankashya from Tushita.

Join with us at Jamyang Buddhist Centre in Kennington on Buddha Day, November 13, to make merit and purify on the third of the major lay religious festivals in the Tibetan Buddhist Calendar, known as Lha-Bab Duchen in Tibetan.

Descent from Tushita is one of the four major Mahayana Buddhist holy days. Credit: Jamyang

On this day we remember the return of the historical Shakyamuni Buddha back to Sankashya in North India, the most westward of the Eight Places of Buddhist pilgrimage. Huge crowds of people were said to have gathered there, eagerly awaiting the Buddha’s return.

It is part of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition to engage in meditation, pujas, prayers and other virtuous community activities on this day.

We begin the day by setting our motivation for the benefit of all sentient beings and have an opportunity to take the Eight Mahayana Precepts.

Lay people can take the Eight Mahayana Precepts for twenty-four hours and traditionally it is considered especially good to take them on Buddhist festival days such as this one.

The day involves a collective recital, recalling and rejoicing in the life and qualities of the historical Buddha. Credit: Jamyang

By observing these precepts we have the possibility to take time out, let go of the usual noise of every day life, relax, realise a great amount of positive potential, bring peace, calm and clarity to the mind; gain better control over our own habitual behaviour; enjoy fewer distractions when meditating and get along better with others.

Following a collective recital, recalling and rejoicing in the life and qualities of the historical Buddha and a guided group meditation for purification, a simple, communal vegetarian lunch is enjoyed in accordance with the precepts.

After lunch, there is a chance to witness a Refuge Ceremony for those who have previously arranged to take Refuge with our resident teacher, Geshe Tashi, as the preceptor. Taking Refuge is very much the first step on the Buddhist Path. It is conducted as a formal ceremony during which a person can become a Buddhist.

It occurs for most of us as a natural outgrowth of learning about Buddhism and reflecting on what the teachings really mean to us. It represents our first turning away from our own suffering in the world, and turning toward a genuine spiritual path that can be of benefit not only to us but to others as well.

On this day we remember the return of the historical Shakyamuni Buddha back to Sankashya in North India. Credit: Jamyang

In the Refuge Ceremony we take refuge in the Buddha by seeing him as the example of the sort of life we should lead in order to be free from suffering and release enlightenment in order to be of the maximum benefit to others.

We take refuge in the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha by seeing them as the path that leads us to freedom. We take refuge in the Sangha, the community of practitioners, by seeing them as our spiritual companions who give us direction, feedback, friendship, and support. Refuge establishes the proper foundation for receiving teachings and entering into practices of the Buddhist path.

In the afternoon, there are opportunities to enjoy guided meditations for the development of compassion, mindfulness, mental tranquility and energising wisdom, before finally dedicating the benefits of the day for the benefit of others.

Here at Jamyang, we will be following this schedule for the day:

  • 08:00 Motivation and the Eight Mahayana Precepts
  • 09:15 Shakyamuni Buddha Puja
  • 10:15 Break
  • 10:30 Vajrasattva purification Puja
  • 11:30 Precepts lunch made according to the dietary restrictions of the Kriya tantras
  • 13:00 Refuge ceremony (for those who have Geshe Tashi’s agreement)
  • 14:00 Chenrezig Compassion Puja
  • 15:00 Silent Meditation
  • 15:30 Tea break
  • 16:00 Green Tara Energising Puja and dedications