Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated this week-end by Buddhists and people from all walks of life who honor a spiritual life. Saga Dawa is the entire fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, which this year begins on May 20 and ends on June 19. The Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and release into nirvana (heaven) are observed together on the 15th day of Saga Dawa, called Saga Dawa Duchen (June 4). This is the single most important holiday in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
Saga means “million” and Dawa means “moon.” Buddhists believe that all our activities, positive or negative, in each and every day of this auspicious month will be multiplied one million times, except on June 4th, when the effects of our actions are multiplied ten million times.
Far from being a pious superstition, the observance of Saga Dawa is an opportunity for us to practice mindfulness, to rededicate ourselves to spiritual cultivation, to plant powerful seeds for our own enlightenment, and to dedicate all merit for the benefit of all sentient beings. When I first heard of this tradition, while attending Buddhist teaching at the temple in Sedona, Arizona, it struck me that living as if all of our actions were truly multiplied by a million, it could turn us to develop more positive and loving habits of generosity, compassion, equanimity and sympathetic joy.
During this holy month, we are all encouraged to consider undertaking the practice of refraining from killing, the first and foremost of all Buddhist precepts.
▪ If your diet generally includes animal flesh, please consider eliminating or reducing your meat consumption during this month, the first 15 days of the month, or at the very least on June 4.
▪ If your diet already tends toward vegetarianism, but you still consume fish, poultry, or eggs, please consider avoiding these during Saga Dawa.
▪ If you are vegetarian, please consider observing strict veganism (no dairy products or eggs) from May 20 to June 19.
▪ If you are vegan, please consider kindly encouraging others (without judgment or verbal violence) to eliminate or reduce meat-eating during this holy month.
Please make a commitment today, according to your capacity. Reducing or eliminating meat-eating during Saga Dawa saves countless animal lives!
I plan to celebrate this week-end at the Maui Dharma Center, in Paia, so for those on Maui, there is a beautiful ceremony on Monday, June 4 at 6 pm, all are welcome.
Mahalo and Blessings,