SUKHO BUDDHANAM UPPĀDO!
Happy is the Birth of All Buddhas.
This is especially important during this period of crisis, caused not only by the COVID-19 pandemic but also by natural disasters such as fire, floods and storms. Prayers alone are not enough to develop the mental resilience and generosity of heart to reach out to others in times of need.
Just as we need to continue to observe physical distancing and physical hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we need to maintain mental hygiene though our daily practice, to help us overcome fear, worry, anxiety and all the other negative thoughts and destructive emotions that arise in these times of uncertainty. We need to bridge the divides created by lockdowns and social distancing on a local and global scale with wisdom and compassionate love.
The many discourses of the Buddha were taught on different occasions to a diverse array of individuals. When we consider the current global situation, with the increased levels of fear, anxiety and other mental and physical sufferings, we need to recognise how, amongst all the Buddha’s teachings, the teachings on Metta and Mindfulness are so relevant at this time.
Metta, being the antidote for anger or aversion, will enable us to remain calm in times of trouble and not react to adverse situations. As the basis of altruism, the genuine wish for the wellbeing of others, Metta has an important role to play in developing caring and sharing communities that will be able to meet the challenges of our time in constructive and beneficial ways.
Through the cultivation of Metta, one develops the wish for all sentient beings to be well and happy. Many wholesome qualities, including compassion (KARUNA), sympathetic or appreciative joy (MUDITA) and equanimity (UPEKKHA), as well as certain outwardly-expressed qualities which form the basis of rendering service to others1, will also begin to develop.
At some point, when the urge to reach out to others becomes very strong, the realisation of one’s own limitations will trigger the thought of gaining Enlightenment in order to acquire the knowledge and skills to help beings out of suffering. That is how the process of awakening will start to unfold.
Mindfulness will effectively check our excessive craving and grasping tendencies, which are the root cause of all the stress and tension we experience. It will also generate the wisdom and insights to overcome our self-cherishing habit, arising from our false notion of the self as “I, my, me and mine”, which is the root cause of all human problems.
Together, these two practices will provide us with calmness and insight as well as the presence of mind to deal with any difficult situations that may arise in these challenging times.
Through compassion, the Buddha perfected his virtues2 and developed all the necessary knowledge and skills to help others. Through wisdom, he purified his mind from the tendencies of greed, hatred and delusion. That is how he became the All-Awakened One, under the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya, more than 2,500 years ago.
We are indeed fortunate to be able to receive the teachings of the Buddha and have proper guidance amidst the turmoil and confusion of modern living. We should make good use of this opportunity to sow the seeds of enlightenment in our own hearts and in the hearts of the many. Let us walk in the footsteps of the Buddha with Metta and Mindfulness.
On this occasion of Vesak, we extend our Metta and goodwill to all, through our meditation and prayers.
May all suffering beings be free from suffering.
May all those in sorrow be free from sorrow.
May all those in fear and danger, be free from fear and danger.
May all beings be well and happy!
May the Blessings of the Buddha Dhamma Sangha be with you always.
Happy Vesak to all!
1. The SANGAHA VATTHU: generosity – DĀNA, pleasant speech – PIYAVACCA, helpful actions – ATTHACARIYA, and unbiased participation – SAMANATTATA.
2. The Ten Perfections (DASA PARAMI): Generosity – DĀNA, Morality – SĪLA, Renunciation – NEKKHAMMA, Wisdom – PAÑÑĀ, Effort – VIRIYA, Patience – KHANTI, Truthfulness – SACCA, Determination – ADHITTHĀNA, Loving-kindness – METTĀ, Equanimity – UPEKKHĀ.