Rev. Heng Sure’s online Dharma Talk on Buddha’s Birthday at BBM on 5/9/2020
Today is the one day each year when we come to the monastery to bathe the buddha. Of course this bathing is symbolic, drawn from the Buddha’s life. Our legend of our founder says that when he came from the side of his mother, Lady Maya, he was already free of karma, with emotions emptied out. The baby Buddha took seven steps and lotuses met his feet. Nine dragons bathed his body with fragrant sweet dew. He said, "Upon the earth, below the sky, I alone am honored." Since then, every year, on the full moon day of the fourh lunar month, we celebrate not only the Buddha’s birthday, but also two other important events in the Buddha’s life: his realization of Enlightenment and also his entering into Nirvana. Like the round full moon, we consider the Buddha to be a successful, perfected human being. His life that we celebrate today is a human life well-lived. So we bathe the Buddha and symbolically we start again. We renew. In our minds we think: here is a chance to begin again, a renewal. I am going to use fresh eyes to view the world around me, my relationships, my family, the people closest to me. The Buddha with his infinite compassion forgives me my mistakes and I’m going to forgive myself and wash clean with the water of kindness.
Our founder of Dharma Ream Buddhis Association, Berkeley Buddhist Monastery and all branches, Master Hsuan Hua, as he brought Buddhism to the West encouraged us to 學佛作人. He said, we study the Buddha but we learn to be good people. 人道盡, 佛道成 . He said. When we become the best possible person, just that is Buddhahood. Because Buddhas come from perfected humans. In Chinese we said 芶日新, 日日新, 又日新 . Master Hua encouraged us, he said, “If we can renew ourselves today, then we can renew ourselves every day. Make self-renewal our daily task.”
To study Buddhism, we’re learning how to be good people. The Buddha sets the standard for a wise and compassionate human being. In a time like today, when so much of what we thought was fundamental, seeking truth, respecting honesty and integrity, in a time when so much of that has been overturned or lost, the Buddha Dharma exists to remind us that those standards haven’t gone anywhere, we just took our eyes off the ball. Essential to the new rebirth as successful people, are these fundamental standards. On this day as we bathe the Buddha, in our hearts we can renew our commitment to filiality, to repaying parent's kindness, to generosity, to selflessness, to harmlessness and to the Bodhi Resolve.
That all I want to share with everyone our message for Buddha’s Birthday today. This is some ideas we can think about.
And how are we going to do this? This is a very unprecedented event today. We’ve never done a virtual online bathing the Buddha on your behalf, all of you who join us all over the world. So here are the ideas we would like you to understand before we begin our ceremony today.
Here are the instructions: the Sangha, the monks who you see on the screen, the monks at the Berkeley Budhist Monastery, this is Jin He Shr, Jin Fo Shr, Jin Chuan Shr, Jin Wei Shr and the volunteers who are helping the four bikhsus. They are going to conduct the traditional ceremony for the Buddha’s birthday, take about half an hour, then when we get to the mantra that we use for bathing the Buddha. Di sa Di sa … While the mantra is being chanted, we are going to invite all of you at home., each of you listening in on Youtube or on Zoom, to symbolicly bathe the Buddha in your own heart. It helps while doing that to bow. So if you have a room in your home, a Buddha alter, or wherever you shelter in place, we would like you to slowly bow mindfully to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, three Jewels. You can bow to your teacher, you can bow to the future Buddhas that you will become.
The reality is that we have had a very enthusiastic response from disciples around the world: 1500 people asked us to bathe the Buddha on their behalf, so it’s a big response. We are happy to do so but we need your help to make it complete. We want you to bow mindfully at home, and think, “I can start afresh, I will renew myself again and again.” On the screen you will see slides coming by with your name printed on the screen, and we will read your name aloud before the Buddhas. One of the monks will recite all 1500 names, they are in front of the Buddhas while the baby Buddha is being bathed. To allow us to finish in a reasonable time, we will have multiple readers reading together. Every name, your name, will be read aloud before the Buddhas. The name boards in the monastery will be kept up in the Buddha Hall for 49 days. Then they will be crossed over. Let’s all now sincerely join in with the DRBA Sangha at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery and our very first international Buddhist community global online bathing of the Buddha, 2020, in the year 2456 in the Buddha’s calendar.