Tips for Thought

Buddha Purnima: an Auspicious Day on May 5th

Buddha Purnima, also known as Buddha Jayanti, is a wonderful festival Buddhists celebrate. This year, the festival will be observed on May 5, 2023. This day marks the birth anniversary of Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, and his followers celebrate with great reverence and devotion.

Buddha Purnima is a time to reflect on the teachings and life of Buddha, who preached the path of peace, love, and compassion. His teachings have had a profound impact on the world, and his message of non-violence and harmony continues to inspire millions of people across the globe.

The Eightfold Path

Buddha Purnima teaches us an important lesson through The Eightfold Path, which is fundamental to Buddhist philosophy. It is a path of self-discovery and self-improvement that leads to the end of suffering and the attainment of enlightenment. It is not a set of commandments or rules but a series of practices that can be incorporated into daily life. These practices include:

1. Right Understanding—This involves understanding the nature of reality, including the concept of impermanence and the interconnectedness of all things, for example, recognizing that suffering is a part of life and accepting it instead of resisting it.

2. Right Intention—This involves cultivating a positive and compassionate attitude towards oneself and others, for example, making a conscious effort to be kind to others and practicing gratitude.

3. Right Speech—This involves speaking truthfully and kindly and avoiding harmful or hurtful speech, for example, expressing gratitude and appreciation towards others instead of criticism.

4. Right Action—This involves living ethically and avoiding actions that cause harm to oneself or others. For example, choosing to be vegetarian to avoid harming animals or donating to a charity that supports a cause you believe in.

5. Right Livelihood—This involves earning a living in an ethical way that does not harm oneself or others. For example, choosing a job that aligns with your values or starting a business that benefits society.

6. Right Effort—This involves a concerted effort to cultivate positive qualities such as kindness, compassion, and wisdom. For example, taking a few minutes daily to focus on your breath and quiet your mind.

7. Right Mindfulness—This involves being fully present in the moment and observing one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment. For example, being present in the moment and fully engaging in activities instead of being distracted by technology.

8. Right Concentration—This involves developing the ability to focus one’s mind and achieve a state of deep concentration, for example, focusing on a single task at a time and avoiding multitasking.

Practicing the Eightfold Path can cultivate inner peace and happiness, ultimately attaining enlightenment. While it may seem like a daunting task, the path can be taken one step at a time, with each step bringing one closer to the ultimate goal of enlightenment.

Buddha’s teachings

One of the teachings of Buddha is the importance of living in the present moment and letting go of attachment. In Buddhism, it is believed that all suffering arises from attachment and desire. One can find inner peace and true happiness by focusing on the present moment and letting go of attachments.

This message is especially important during festivals like Buddha Purnima, which celebrates the life and teachings of Buddha. During this time, Buddhists reflect on the impermanence of life and the importance of living in the present moment. They celebrate in ways that help cultivate inner peace and reflection.

Ways to celebrate

The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm, and devotees gather at Buddhist temples to offer prayers, light candles and incense, meditate and chant hymns in honor of Buddha. Acts of charity and kindness also mark the day, as followers of Buddhism believe in the importance of helping others and spreading positivity.

Lighting candles and incense

 It symbolizes an offering to the Buddha and a way to purify one’s mind and surroundings. Buddhists believe lighting a candle or incense helps create a peaceful and meditative atmosphere where they can engage in prayer and other religious practices.

Chanting hymns and mantras

Buddhists believe that chanting helps to purify the mind and bring inner peace. It is also a way to connect with other community members and share a collective spiritual experience.

Charity and kindness 

It is encouraged in Buddhist practices. Buddhists believe that helping others can cultivate positive karma and bring happiness and peace to themselves and others. This practice is often done through charitable donations or by volunteering in the community.

Meditation in Buddhism

Buddhists believe that through meditation, they can achieve a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them. Therefore, meditation is often done in silence, with the eyes closed and comfortably seated.

Buddha Purnima in the States

In the States, Buddha Purnima is known as Buddha’s birthday. One of the most popular ways to celebrate this occasion is through the Lotus Lantern Parade. This parade is a beautiful and colorful display of lanterns that participants carry as they march through the streets. It is a joyous and peaceful celebration that brings people of all ages and backgrounds together to celebrate this occasion.

What can you do at home?

Practice gratitude

Take a moment to reflect on the blessings in your life and express gratitude for them. Write down a list of things you’re grateful for, or take a moment to appreciate the people and things around you.

Do acts of kindness

Buddhism emphasizes the importance of compassion towards others. Look for opportunities to do acts of kindness, such as volunteering at a local charity, helping a neighbor, or simply offering a kind word to someone in need.

Meditate

Meditation is a core Buddhist practice and a great way to cultivate mindfulness. Set aside time during the day to meditate, focusing on your breath. If you’re new to meditation, consider using guided meditation or attending a class.

What items are needed?

  1. Buddha statues come in handy. You can choose a statue that fits your preference and place it on your altar or meditation space.
  2. Lighting incense is common during Buddhist festivals and ceremonies. You can even try traditional Tibetan incense and more modern scents.
  3. Tibetan prayer flags are colorful flags hung outdoors to spread positive energy and prayers into the surrounding environment. Various prayer flags are available online, including those with traditional mantras and symbols.
  4. Prayer beads, or mala beads, are used to count mantras and prayers during meditation. You can buy mala beads made from different materials, such as wood, stone, and crystal.
  5. Reading Buddhist literature is a great way to deepen your understanding of Buddha’s teachings. You can find Buddhist books online, ranging from beginner’s guides to more advanced texts.

Buddha Purnima is a significant festival that celebrates the life and teachings of Buddha. It is a time to reflect on his message of peace, love, and compassion and to practice the Eightfold Path. The festival is a reminder to live in the present moment and spread positivity and kindness.