AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE 23 MAY – 21 JUNE 2020
Saga Dawa/Saga Dawa Duchen begins on the 1st day of the 4th lunar month calendar – 2147
This being the most important month in the Tibetan lunar calendar, called Saga Dawa. The 15th day of this 4th lunar month, the full moon day is called Saga Dawa Düchen ས་ག་ཟླ་བ་དུས་ཆེན་ which falls this year on Monday 5 June 2020 (Sangye & Nyangde Düchen). Düchen means “Great Occasion” and this day is the single most holy day of the year for Tibetan Buddhists. Saga Dawa Düchen commemorates the Birth, Enlightenment, and Parinirvana of Buddha Shakyamuni marked all on this same day. Although, there is a specific separate day in which Buddha Shakyamuni’s birth is celebrated, referred to as Tampei Düchen, this year falling on Sunday 29 May 2020.
In other Buddhist traditions this occasion is known as Wesak or is sometimes called Buddha Day and may fall within a different month, yet around the same time of the year. Saga Dawa is known as the month of merits. Tibetan Buddhists make extra efforts to practice more generosity (Dana), virtue, and compassion to accumulate greater merit. Tibetans believe that on the 10th and 15th day of this month the merits of one’s actions are hugely increased, 100,000x positive actions or negative. Accumulating this merit is understood in many ways, it could be the fruits of good karma, especially when it brings us closer to enlightenment. The three grounds of meritorious actions are generosity and mental culture or meditation.
Traditionally, the holy day of Saga Dawa Düchen is observed through practice, generosity, and the performance of meritorious deeds, such as the practice of Life Release. This is commonly performed by purchasing animals that are destined to be killed (like lambs, fish, worms and/or crickets), and releasing them into their natural habitats with prayers and positive aspirations. One must be mindful though that this release does not cause them more suffering being in the wrong environment. As Khenpo-la always suggests and reminds us during this most auspicious and sacred month to be vegetarian, to release any animals that may have otherwise been killed for food or other reasons. The act of giving life in this way is believed to extend the practitioner or benefactor’s lifespan and create positive circumstances. You can also take an extended vow or vegetarianism, creating vast merit through your noble aspiration to reduce suffering.
“Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you. All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation.” The Buddha
At Kamalashila Tibetan Buddhist Centre there is an opportunity to sponsor (Dana) towards the daily lighting of candles. The first 9 days of Saga Dawa there will be 50 candles lit on each day at the centre, on the 10th and 15th days, 100 candles will be offered.
We are all in this state of the COVID-19 pandemic, causing uncertainty in all our lives and causing disturbances mentally, emotionally, as well as economically. In this way, we are facing big challenges right now, so I advise everyone not to panic. At this time, it is very important to reflect upon all the dharma teachings we have received in the past and put them into action, for the good aspect of COVID-19 is if we can remain in a state of mindfulness, and follow all of the health profession’s advice, then there is no chance to get this disease. Emotionally and mentally, we need to remember that there is no one more professional than Lord Buddha. His main teachings show us how to keep a healthy mind which is the sole topic from the Buddha, and this positive mind is for all beings. This mind is the remedy for this pandemic and for any other circumstance.
If we all can keep our mind completely positive, meaning to wish that all others are to be happy, that no one faces challenges, free from all the difficulties, if we can develop love and compassion, and to remain in this state, this will be the best medicine to keep the mind and emotions healthy.
Conventionally, the Buddha’s teachings are about impermanence, which is good and bad. This pandemic will not last, it will end sooner or later. Until then, please take responsibility to protect oneself and to help others to not spread this disease. The pandemic is an excellent opportunity for more time to practise by oneself and/or with loved ones, such a rare opportunity to find this kind of time. I strongly recommend that you chant Medicine Buddha, Parṇaśavarī, Tara and Compassion mantras, which can help ease our fear of this disease. The fear is also a sentient being, so we can send loving-kindness and compassion to this being, so it can be free from its negative karma. I also recommend that you practise Lojong meditation (the exchanging meditation).
We can view these current circumstances in a negative or selfish way, or we can think from a dharmic point of view, being a perfect opportunity to practise the dharma. We must not think that we are in isolation and restricted. This time with oneself and others is also a time for our precious Mother Planet to rest, so let us take advantage of this time. At the end of the day, this is not a bad time, although we sincerely offer our prayers for all who are sick and for all those who have passed away from this disease. As well, our prayers are for all the committed health workers and all other beings who keep the world less stressed and provide help in so many ways in order to bring comfort to all.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
We can pray that all beings be free from this disease all over the world.