Joyously Celebrating the Birth of the Buddha Year 2564, Buddha Calendar
Bhagavan Zhi-Ji Vimalakirti Wang Xin De
Photo from 2653 Bathing Buddha Ceremony (held May 2019)
On the eighth day of the fourth month 565 BC in the kingdom of Kapilavastu of ancient India, the queen of King Suddhodana – Madame Maya gave birth to Prince Siddhartha Gautama under an Ashoka tree in the Lumbini grove.
The Prince later became ordained and attained enlightenment known as Sakyamuni Buddha or simply, Buddha.
Today is the eighth day of the fourth month in a (lunar) leap year. According to our School’s tradition and the perspective of every practitioner, celebrations held from the eighth day of the fourth month are for sentient beings.
Bathing the Buddha has three stages. The first stage is to bath from the top of the head to the shoulders sincerely and quietly praying in your heart, so that the Buddha can aid you in becoming a good person; to become a person that contributes towards mankind. This is the first stage of bathing the Buddha. It is called Severing all Evils.
The second stage of bathing the Buddha, reflects the Buddha when he was born. He immediately raised his right hand, pointing to the heavens and left hand, pointing to the earth.
Once the Buddha was born, he was able to speak. He walked seven steps whilst proclaiming, “heaven above and earth below, only I know the truth”. Why did he say “Only I know the truth”?
This was to enable all practitioners that bathed the Buddha to understand the significance of bathing the Buddha. It is to facilitate practitioners to become pure, selfless, self-subdued and practise diligently, and not be an ordinary unenlightened person. This stage is called Practising all Virtues. The third stage is bathing the Buddha. When bathing the Great Holy Sakyamuni Buddha, nine dragons descended from the heavens above and washed Prince Siddhartha with their dragon water.
Firstly they washed His left shoulder, this represents the meaning of “I am pure, selfless, self-subdued and practise diligently, I wish for all sentient beings to be the same”. That is why purity, selflessness, self-subdued, diligent practice alongside the teaching form, yoga form, precept form and perfect form are employed to relieve the immediate sufferings of birth, ageing, sickness and death of sentient beings. This stage is called Grand Worldwide Dissemination.
Also included in this stage is relieving sentient beings of the sufferings of previous lives, countless eons of the future and yore. All the sufferings of sentient beings will all be extinguished. As humans are never content no matter how fortunate unenlightened beings are, they are never satisfied and will harbour various desires and obstacles.
That is why the Great Holy Sakyamuni Buddha metamorphosed many transformation flowing bodies: Amitabha Buddha of the West, Medicine Buddha of the East, Asraya Buddha of the North, (This Asraya Buddha – the Chinese character for it is rather special, written as a “door” with three “human” characters in it) Vairocana Buddha in the centre, Akshobhya Buddha in the South and Avalokitsvara Buddha rescuing those from sufferings and difficulties.
This is a miniature of the entire Universe, it is the fundamental principle of Buddhism, to meditate and practise for the purpose of completely saving all sentient beings that are in suffering.
Sakyamuni Buddha was originally a prince. He lived in the royal palace of King Suddhodhana however, in order to save and deliver all sentient beings, He departed the life of luxury and became ordained as a Bhikku. What is a Bhikku? In Buddhist sutras, a Bhikku has many different names. From a fundamental perspective, such as according to Nirvana Sutra, “those that are able to eradicate klesa” are called Bhikku. They are those that are able to practise sila, dhyana and prajna to deliver the three existences and four flows and not fear hardships.
In fact, a Bhikku is a begging scholar in Chinese known as qi shi - qi meaning to beg and shi meaning a scholar. In ancient India, the position of a begging scholar amongst the common populace is very high and revered, as they have left the life of fortune to embrace the life of a beggar without worries.
When we bath the Buddha, it is to say that sentient beings have sufferings and difficulties. So with the bathing Buddha form, we emulate the Great Holy Sakyamuni Buddha to become a holy being one that is able to relieve the sufferings of sentient beings. This is the fundamental principle of us bathing the Buddha, as such this is the significance of bathing the Buddha.
Within the twelve vehicles taught by the Buddha, there is Exoteric Buddhism, Esoteric Buddhism, there is the Outer Three Esoteric Buddhism and Inner Three Esoteric Buddhism and finally, the Esoterically-Esoteric Buddhist vehicles, in other words the teachings of Holy Tantra Jin-Gang-Dhyana Buddhism.
Hence, each vehicle of Dharma teachings, due to their difference in depth, they will have different methods of bathing the Buddha. This establishes the various Dharma teaching that correspond to the various root capacities of every sentient being. The method that we have introduced today is the Exoteric Buddhist method that is appropriate to be learnt by an extensive amount of sentient beings, enabling them to attain Buddhahood.
Our Dharma teachings are the Dharma teachings of Holy Tantra Gu Fan Mi Jin-Gang-Dhyana Buddhism. As such, our practitioners should more so, be able to shoulder the sufferings of sentient beings.
Hence, our practitioners, upon hearing this brief Dharma teaching, everyone should strive and work hard!
This is precisely the significant meaning of us celebrating the Buddha’s 2564th birthday (565 BC).
(written in commemoration of the Year 2654 Bathing Buddha Ceremony. A ceremony was not held due to COVID-19 restrictions.)