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Vesak Day

Celebrating the life of the Buddha

Chris Tham Chris Tham 2022-05-15 2 min read

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16 May 2022 is “Vesak”, the Day of the Full Moon in the month of May. It is traditionally the day that Buddhists commemorate three important occasions in the Buddha’s life: his birth, enlightenment, and death.

Note that other countries may select different dates for Vesak, but 16 May is the day recognised by the United Nations, as well as India (the country the Buddha was born in).

I am not going to say “Happy Vesak Day”, because that is inappropriate. The man that was the Buddha no longer exists in this world, or any other world, and no longer cares about happiness.

The best way to observe Vesak is not by sending wishes to the Buddha, or anyone else, but by remembering and reflecting on his teachings. I am posting this 1 day early to enable the reader to appropriately prepare and contemplate on the day itself.

Therefore I will quote an extract from the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya 56:11) espousing the Four Noble Truths, in Pali, untranslated:

Idaṁ kho pana, bhikkhave, dukkhaṁ ariyasaccaṁ—jātipi dukkhā, jarāpi dukkhā, byādhipi dukkho, maraṇampi dukkhaṁ, appiyehi sampayogo dukkho, piyehi vippayogo dukkho, yampicchaṁ na labhati tampi dukkhaṁ—saṅkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā.

Idaṁ kho pana, bhikkhave, dukkhasamudayaṁ ariyasaccaṁ—yāyaṁ taṇhā ponobbhavikā nandirāgasahagatā tatratatrābhinandinī, seyyathidaṁ—kāmataṇhā, bhavataṇhā, vibhavataṇhā.

Idaṁ kho pana, bhikkhave, dukkhanirodhaṁ ariyasaccaṁ—yo tassāyeva taṇhāya asesavirāganirodho cāgo paṭinissaggo mutti anālayo.

Idaṁ kho pana, bhikkhave, dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā ariyasaccaṁ—ayameva ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo, seyyathidaṁ—sammādiṭṭhi sammāsaṅkappo sammāvācā sammākammanto sammāājīvo sammāvāyāmo sammāsati sammāsamādhi.

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