Namo Amida Butsu
As you know, April 8 is known as Buddha Shakyamuni’s birthdayand Buddhists throughout the world celebrate this day as a day of joyand happiness. On Maui, the Buddhist Association will celebrate thisspecial occasion at three locations. The first is located on theWestside—Lahaina Jodo, Lahaina Hongwanji, and Lahaina ShingonMission will get together at the one of the temples. The second locationis in Paia where the Paia Rinzai Zen, Paia Mantokuji, and TibetianBuddhist are observing their Hanamatsuri together at the TibetianBuddhist temple. The third location is at the Velma McWayneSantos Community Center where the Kahului Jodo, KahuluiHongwanji, Puunene Nichiren, Makawao Hongwanji, Wailuku Jodo,and Wailuku Hongwanji will be celebrating this special occasion on Sunday, April 5.
So, it is easy for everyone to participate in one of theseHanamatsuri services, and we welcome our dharma friends. I firmlybelieve that this is the happiest occasion for all Buddhists in the worldas we celebrate of the birth of Shakyamuni Buddha.
The Buddha was born approximately 2,600 years ago in theLumbini Garden located on the northern part of India in the season ofspring. The Lumbini Garden presently belongs to the country of Nepal.
Hanamatsuri is a service of rejoicing to commemorate the birthof Shakyamuni Buddha. For this service, a flower decorated pavilionknown as a Hanami-do is set up representing the Lumbini Gardenwhere Gautama Buddha was born. In the Hanami-do we place astanding baby Buddha and pour sweet tea over him.
According to the legend, when Shakyamuni Buddha was born,sweet rain fell from the sky to bathe the body of baby Buddha. And atthe same time beautiful flowers bloomed everywhere and thousandsof the flower petals fell from the sky and soft music could be heard. Itseems the entire Mother Nature celebrated Buddha’s birth.
Legend has it that as the time of Prince Siddhartha’s birthneared, Queen Maya prepared to make the journey to the home ofher mother so the child could be born in accordance with the customof the time. While on her journey to the home, she stopped to rest ata beautiful flower garden called Lumbini. While she was resting at thegarden, she saw the beautiful flowers on the tree. The Queen Mayawent to the tree and raised her right hand to grasp the flowers of theAsoka tree, the Buddha was born from Queen Maya’s right side ofher armpit. After Buddha was born, he took seven steps, pointed hisright hand to the sky and left hand to the earth, and said the followingwords: "Above and below the heavens, I alone am the World-Honored One."
Is this a true story? It is hard to believe that a newborn baby didthese kinds of acts. I don’t know if this story is true or not. This storywas told by the human beings because they wanted to express theirfeeling that he was a son of the King, the prince of the Shakya clan.
When we think about the Buddha’s story, it is expressing veryimportant teachings, which we should think about. I believe that thereare several ways of interpretations about this story.
The first is "Buddha is the person who guided uncountable humanbeings to the path of the truth and gave great encouragementsin our lives. And Buddha is the enlightened in the world of Samsara."
The second one is his guidance and it is said, "Each human beingsthe life is very precious one and we all are able to be reborn intothe land of Buddha and receive the eternal peace and serenity andwe all will be able to become a Buddha."
When Buddha was born, the King Sudodhana expressed hisgreat joy and happiness and named his son "Siddhartha," whichmeans, "Every wish fulfilled."
Buddha Shakyamuni is our great spiritual Master and he teachesus the true guidance, wisdom, compassion, hope, joy, dream, andmany great encouragements to each one of us in our precious lives.
We offer sweet tea over the baby Buddha. This sweet tea is representingthe sweet rain bathed the Buddha when he was born, andall the flowers decorated in the pavilion are like the flowers that wereblooming in Lumbini Garden when he was born. I feel that offeringthe sweet tea over the baby Buddha is the Dharma rain, which iscleansing our heart and offering flowers is for us to receive the greatfeeling of peace and serenity in our lives.
Each one of us has a wonderful Buddha nature and it manifestspeace, serenity, sympathy, joy, and happiness in our lives. For us torealize these very important things, the one and only way is "To listento the teachings of the Buddha Dharma without having any doubt andrely upon Buddha’s wisdom and compassionate heart. Buddha’steaching provides us the path of the Truth in our lives."
On this special day, may we all rejoice in the spiritual guidanceprovided by the Buddha and pass it on to the future generations. Thisspecial gathering, listening to the Buddha Dharma with our sangha,and whatever we have in our lives are all precious gifts given by ourgreat spiritual Master, Buddha Shakyamuni.
Nembutsu path is a Buddha’s great guidance that showing usthe way of truth and teaching us to rejoice in the happiness with others.Our great Issei and Nisei Nembutsu followers built this temple forus to receive the spiritual happiness and for us to rejoice in the preciouslives with others including our children and grandchildren.
One of the Shinran Shonin’s great master, Tao Cho of Chinasaid, "People who are born before us guided people who come next,people who are born after them followed the guidance and walk thefirm path of truth."
Remember Dharma friends we are inheriting profound guidanceof the Nembutsu, the happiness and joy through our precious lives.Buddhism is a joy and happiness which all of us are able to discoverin our daily lives. So may we listen to the Buddha Dharma asour spiritual guide and follow the path of the truth in our preciouslives.
Hanamatsuri is for us to realize we are living in Buddha’s greatguidance.