Namu Amida Butsu
Happy Buddha Day. All of you may have heard the story of the Buddha Shakyamuni who was born on the 8th day of the month of April (Gregorian calendar)at the place called Lumbini Garden in the northern part of India about 2,600 years ago. History tells us that queen Maya had a dream that the Holy Buddha came with a white elephant to the human world and entered from the left side of her armpit. Then months later she realized that she was pregnant.
When the due date was close, Queen Maya followed the tradition of the custom of giving birth in her home town. Because it was about 2,600 years ago, the main transportation was using a horse,cow, or having people carry her on her carriage. It took several weeks to travel back to her home.Legend says that while she was resting in Lumbini Garden, she saw a beautiful flower while she tried to touch the petal of the flower, and a baby was born from the right side of her armpit.
When the baby was born, the earth shook and thousands of flower petals fell from the sky, then sweet rain bathed baby Buddha. Flowers were blooming all over the area and it was just like our Mother Nature was blessing Buddha’s birth. Then,right after his birth, baby Buddha stood up and walked seven steps and his right hand pointed to the sky and his left hand pointed to the earth and proclaimed: “Above the heaven and below the earth, I alone am the honored one."
Wow, this baby must be a "Super baby" if he did all these kinds of acts right after his birth. I guess this story was made up by one of the followers of the Buddha who wanted all of us to be aware of Buddha’s great guidance and his compassion. In fact, what this story is trying to explain to us is that there are several important issues in our lives. For example, the seven steps he took after he was born means that through the guidance of the Buddha,we are able to overcome one of the Buddhist ways of the lives which are called six paths of the reincarnation in our lives. With the infinite guidance of the Buddha, we are able to overcome these six realms of life and be able to be reborn into the Pure Land of Buddha.
The words which he proclaimed, I interpreted it as follow; "Each human, being received a very precious life and no one is above or below." Our lives are always interdependent and supporting one another.Plants are receiving necessary blessings through our Mother Nature for them to grow and plants are returning oxygen to our society. Just like all of us. Without knowing the fact and truth, we all are truly supporting everyone’s life. Look around our lives, we have many different people and different professions. These small pieces of the puzzle are working together and making a wonderful picture of our precious lives.
At this special service at our temple, we pour sweet tea over the baby Buddha. This is the sweet rain that bathed baby Buddha when he was born. Decorating the pavilion full of beautiful fresh flowers is the image of the Lumbini Garden where Buddha was born. When we think about Amida Buddha’s great wisdom and compassion, it is like this phrase: "through the great wisdom and compassion of Amida Buddha, we are able to receive the light of wisdom in our heart and that light showing us the path of the truth in our precious lives.”
Following the life of the Nembutsu is like entering a dark room with a light in the hand, the darkness will all be cleared away and the room will be filled with the light of compassion. We, who understand the heart and life of the Nembutsu and follow the path of the Nembutsu life is in possession of the light of wisdom that will clear away the darkness of ignorance .Hanamatsuri is reminding each one of us that the Buddha’s spiritual guidance is always giving us the true feeling of peace, serenity, and joyful happiness in our heart so that we are all able to raise our children and grandchildren with a warm feeling of wisdom and compassion.
Hanamatsuri is a joyous occasion with our friends when we celebrate the birth of the Buddha with a mind of gratitude and happiness.