|Posted on May 20, 2016 at 4:45 PM|
Saka Dawa: An Ancient Practice for a Modern World – Part II
---Rev. William L. Chamberlin, (Orgyen Jampa Dorje)
In the previous article, we discussed who the Buddha was, some rudimentary information about Karma, and how Merit fits in with both. In this second article, I would like to introduce the practice or Observance of Saka Dawa, proper.
For Tibetans, the full moon of the fourth month (May 21 this year, roughly) is a most auspicious day, for it is the day that the Buddha was born, gained Enlightenment, and also passed on (his Parinirvana). Primarily, this is a day in which Temple members would gather in their Temple location and bring offerings of incense, fruit, flowers, dana (cash donations), hear Sutra recitations, and do some kind of ceremony in honor of the Buddha specifically, but by extension, the Triple Gems themselves (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha). This is upon the day itself, although the entire month would be considered sacred and many such ceremonies and deeds would be observed throughout. The entire month is considered most auspicious as to the accumulation of merit, and involves many considerations, such as the following:
• Refraining from eating meat (if not vegetarian)
• Offering donations to the Temple/monastery/nunnery or to an individual teacher
• Taking/retaking Refuge vows and lay Precepts
• Praying/reciting mantras, such as that of Shakyamuni Buddha
• Prostrations at a Temple or holy site
• Feeding the homeless and supporting such efforts financially
• Lighting of butter lamps
• Pilgrimages to holy places
• Buying animals which were to be put down and adopting them and/or finding homes for them/releasing them
• Circumambulating around stupas or holy places (clockwise around holy sites while reciting mantras)
• Taking the Eight Mahayana Precepts for a time
o Avoid killing
o Avoid stealing
o Avoid sexual exploitation (leading up to no sex at all for a time, like a retreat)
o Avoid deception
o Avoid intoxicants
o One meal a day (vegetarian, if possible)
o Avoid displays or indulgence in luxuries for a time
o Avoid wearing jewelry, perfume and make up; also includes dancing, enjoying, or playing music (with attachment, just for sensual pleasure purposes)
Some Tibetans or Vajrayana Buddhists also take a Nyung Ney or short retreat, which is an intensive two-day affair, which includes taking the above 8 Mahayana Precepts strictly, with complete fasting and silence on the second day. And of course, a Puja or Rite dedicated to Shakyamuni Buddha would fall in there as well.
The main point of all of these different methods is to further plant the impetus, or incentive/inspiration/aspiration within ones mental continuum, in order to develop the mind of enlightenment, loving-kindness and a stronger Karma connection with Shakyamuni Buddha: His life, his meritorious deeds and their fruits, and of course, his Enlightenment.
It is because all such activities upon this month of Merit, Saka Dawa, are so dedicated to Shakyamuni, that it is so conducive to magnifying the spiritual fruits/merit of any enlightened and loving deeds, done in honor of, by the inspiration of, and dedicated toward the goal of, Shakyamuni the Great-Teacher himself and all other beings.
Categories: Dharma Teachings and Events