Author: Hanumon Rivera
Original Article here: Happy Vesak from the Philippine Theravada Buddhist Fellowship (PTBF)
PTBF is an organization that promotes Theravada Buddhism in the country. We have represented the Philippines in international conferences. We do not seek religous conversion & welcome ANYONE interested or curious in the original teachings of Gotama Buddha including Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, non-Buddhists, atheists, single mothers, LGBTs, dilawans, nonvoters, cops, robbers, etc. Whether you feel stressed or enlightened, you are welcome to join us. The only conversion we seek is from a state of unhappiness or unwholesomeness to a state of happiness and wholesomeness.
We have been regularly holding Buddhist fellowships mostly indoors & in the summer months of April to mid-May, we hold our fellowship outdoors in public parks.
Today, Vesak Day (Buddha Day), I would like to share personal insights as to why PTBF holds summer fellowship outdoors. It is to remember how early Buddhism was practised. The Buddha was born, gained Enlightenment & died in the forests of ancient India & Nepal. Many of his greatest disciples, like Maha Kassapa who is acknowledged in Zen as its founder, were forest dwellers. PTBF is also partly influenced by the Thai & Burmese forest traditions. When we meditate outdoors, we remind ourselves that we are part of nature, subject to the universal laws of nature. We do not need grand buildings for our practice. If we think we do, something is wrong with our belief & practice. We are our own temples. The Buddha of Awakening is not found outside but inside us.
May we celebrate the Day of Vesak not just by lighting candles & incense sticks or bowing to statues or performing feel-good merit-making rituals, but in giving or seeking forgiveness, helping one another & meditating.
On his death bed, the Buddha asked his disciples why they dragged in another disciple to his side. They replied that they wanted him to pay his last respects to the Great Teacher. So the Buddha asked the disciple why he didn’t come on his own. The disciple replied that he was meditating in the forest as his greatest tribute was to put into practice the teachings of the Great Teacher. The Buddha praised him for his wise decision.
May more Filipinos encounter the wise & compassionate teachings of Gotama Buddha.
May more people, regardless of religion, learn the techniques of meditation to better face the stresses & challenges of modern life.
May all beings be safe, happy & liberated from the sufferings of the world!