Friday, December 2, 2011

Celebrate Buddha Day, Mother’s Day and Tzu Chi Day - 敬田

Celebrate Buddha Day, Mother’s Day and Tzu Chi Day

The second Sunday of May is a very special day, as there are three meaningful occasions that fall on that day: Mother's Day, Buddha Day, and Tzu Chi Day. The second Sunday of May is Mother's Day in Taiwan. In 2000, it was designated by Taiwan's government as the official Buddha Day in Taiwan. In Tzu Chi, it became the official Global Tzu Chi Day following Tzu Chi's 30th anniversary. (Tzu Chi was founded on March 24, 1966 on the lunar calendar.) 

For Tzu Chi, this day has many meanings: (1) promoting the field of reverence (敬田); (2) promoting the field of gratitude (恩田); that is to be grateful to your parents and teachers and (3) promoting the field of compassion (悲田) and that is to give of ourselves to help others. In helping others, we might seem to be the "giver", yet we must be grateful to those who receive our aid because others' suffering awakens us and makes us feel that we're very blessed. Only when people can feel they're blessed can they truly be happy and have a blessed life. Moreover, given that there is so much suffering in the world, we are truly fortunate to be someone who has the capacity to help. We are also fortunate because we have many people who share our ideals and unite with us to carry them out. 

Mother's Day signifies "the field of gratitude" we are to cultivate. Buddha Day signifies "the field of reverence" we are to cultivate and Tzu Chi Day---the way the volunteers in Tzu Chi work united to offer their love and care---that signifies "the field of compassion". That is where we are to cultivate and nurture compassion. These three fields together form a great field for cultivating blessings and wisdom.

The reason for commemorating the Buddha's Birthday

As the Lotus Sutra of the Wonderful True Law tells us, all Buddhas come into the mundane world for the sole purpose of leading living beings to attain the same Enlightenment as the Buddhas. Over 2,500 years ago, Sakyamuni Buddha was born into this world. After leaving royal life to pursue the path of spiritual cultivation, he finally awakened to the ultimate truth of the universe, becoming a Buddha, the Enlightened One. It is because of him that we are able to arrive at the understanding of life that we now have, gaining the capacity to recognize our suffering and see it for what it is, so that we are able to begin transforming our confused mind into the awakened mind. So, we must be grateful to the Buddha, and therefore, we commemorate the birth of Sakyamuni Buddha with a special ceremony.

The true meaning of the Buddha Day Ceremony

The Buddha's Enlightenment:

The Buddha is the one who guides us to awaken our spiritual wisdom-life. He represents "the field of reverence" that we are to cultivate. We are ignorant of the direction of our lives, and we need a guide that can lead us so we would not go astray. The Buddha is this spiritual guide. We are as if adrift in a vast sea, and the Buddha is the compass that lets us know our direction and helps us to grow spiritually. The Buddha has unsurpassed wisdom and compassion, and being so, his views are very different from us ordinary beings. We are usually caught in mundane ways of thinking which throw our minds into confusion and chaos, and bring us suffering and misery. The Buddha, however, has awakened to the ultimate Truth, and is able to see things as they truly are. He then devoted the rest of his life sharing these truths with all, so that we the unenlightened can see through our delusions and transcend our afflictions to come out of suffering and likewise walk the same path as the Buddha to enlightenment. Dharma Master Cheng Yenstated that the Buddha’s Birthday Ceremony is to remind us that over 2,500 years ago, there lived an enlightened being who came to teach us universal truths. He taught us to respect one another, be grateful for one another, and always have love for others. During the Buddha Day Ceremony, we should strive to understand the Buddha's heart, recognize our misguided views and beliefs, learn from the Buddha's example and strive to emulate his pure, enlightened love. When our love and compassion is wakened and our hearts fill with gratitude—that is a heart of purity. To inspire such a heart of purity in all is the true meaning behind the Buddha Day ceremony.

The Buddha Day Ceremony

Transcending the divisions of religion:

Dharma Master Cheng Yen says that all Tzu Chi volunteers should be grateful to Sakyamuni Buddha, because Tzu Chi is from Buddhism and Sakyamuni Buddha was the one who founded this religion. It is Master's hope that with the spirit of the Buddha's teachings, we can transcend the divisions between religions, and regardless of religion and race, spread the spirit of the Buddha’s love to every corner of the world and gather the power from everyone in order to best serve the community. 

The meaning behind the rituals in the ceremony

Using water in the ceremony:

Although the water which we use in the ceremony is not plenty, we need to visualize it as the water of wisdom that can purify our defilements and afflictions; we will be as Buddha, realizing the Dharmakaya, the Dharma-Body (the pure body).

Bowing and the use of scented water:

In the past, the way to express one's reverence toward the Buddha is to prostrate oneself with one's head at the Buddha's feet, touching the Buddha’s feet. Today, in the ceremony, we should have that same sense of reverence as we symbolically do the same by bowing and dipping our fingers in the water (as if to touch the Buddha's feet) and putting our palms together in reverence. The fragrance of the water, symbolizing the redolence of the Buddha's virtue, remains with us, just as we wish that the Buddha's virtue may abide in our hearts. 

Every day is Buddha Day

To celebrate the Buddha’s Birthday we have many solemn commemorations to express our reverence toward the Buddha. However, the truest and most earnest appreciation and reverence for the Buddha is to consider every day as Buddha Day. We should always treat others with gratitude, respect, and love.

Please join us at the Tzu Chi location near you.


Photo to Hoe Sing Huang

Let's show our gratitude to Sakyamuni Buddha, and constantly rid our minds of afflictions. We should treat everyone with gratitude and respect; and together, let's join hands to shower the world with great love, and portray a new image for Buddhism everywhere in the world. 

The second Sunday of May is a very special day set aside by various Tzu Chi Chapters in Malaysia and globally, to celebrate Mother's Day, Global Tzu Chi Day and Buddha's Day (designated by Taiwanese Government) together. 

It is the sincere hope of the global Tzu Chi volunteers to portray a new image for Buddhism and promote it worldwide. To Tzu Chi volunteers, the act of bathing the patients or the lonely elderly has the same meaning as bathing the Buddha. Tzu Chi volunteers have actually put the philosophy into practical act of kindness.

More than 2,500 years ago, Sakyamuni Buddha was born into this world with the purpose of helping the sentient beings to understand the truth of life and to be enligthened. Therefore, we must be grateful to the Buddha by commemorating his birth with a special ceremony. 

Buddha is also known as "the teacher of three worlds" and "father of sentient beings born through four methods". It is also most appropriate to thank the Buddha and bring up the spirit of filial piety on Mother's Day. 

Tzu Chi holds the Buddha Bathing Ceremony on Buddha's Day to show our gratitude to Sakyamuni Buddha for his teachings. It is also an opportunity to constantly remind ourselves to be rid of afflictions, to treat everyone with respect and gratitude, and to shower the world with great love together. 

Tzu Chi's Buddha Bathing Ceremony is different from the traditional ceremony. We expressed our reverence towards Buddha by bowing and dipping our fingers in the water (as if to touch the Buddha's feet), receiving the flower and then holding our palms together. The fragrance of the flower, symbolizing the redolence of Buddha's virtue remains with us, just as we wish that it may abide in our hearts. We also hoped that people of different religions could feel the captivating power of this solemn ceremony and experience a spiritual cleansing effect. 

This year, Tzu Chi Kuala Lumpur held the Buddha Bathing Ceremony at the Putra Indoor Stadium of Bukit Jalil National Sports Complex. The event attracted more than 10,000 visitors, and with their collective kind thoughts, they prayed for a world free from disasters. 

Besides the Buddha Bathing Ceremony, there were also "Seize the Moment" photographic exhibition, Exhibition on Tzu Chi Missions, Jing-Si Books' promotion counter, Continuing Education's promotion counter, Da Ai TV viewing corner, recruitment of new volunteers, online vegetarianism pledge, Bamboo Bank promotion corner, and so on.

Visually impaired at the ceremony 
Eight visually-impaired participants entered the hall where the Buddha Bathing Ceremony was held, one after another, with their hands on each other's shoulder. Although they could not see with their eyes, they could sense the atmosphere of solemnity and grandness of the Ceremony. 

Photo by Yong Mun Fei

Tang Yong Shun, who lost his eyesight at a very young age, said that this was his first Buddha Bathing Ceremony. He could feel the inner peace and sense the Buddha's compassion while performing the ceremony.

Another visually-impaired participant, Song Guo Yao, who has been joining Tzu Chi's recycling activity almost every month, said, "We should not ask what others can give us but look at what we still have!"

Friends from Bukit Darah
A total of 63 Indian residents from Bukit Darah, Selangor, got up early to dress up for the Buddha Bathing Ceremony in Kuala Lumpur. They were invited by Tzu Chi volunteers who met them last year through the study grant scheme. Rukumany, parent of a grant recipient, led the group and interpreted for her friends.

Shanbagavalli, another grant recipient's parent, was so moved by the story of Bamboo Bank Era of Tzu Chi that she and her family took home a bamboo piggy bank. She also expressed her intention to start up recycling in her community after being briefed on the importance of environmental protection. 

We are family
Tzu Chi care-recipient, Hazlina, took the opportunity to bring her children to join the Buddha Bathing Ceremony held at Tzu Chi Melaka. She thought it would be good for her children to broaden their views on the various cultures practised by other Malaysians and to celebrate the special occasion together. Her son's Hazman, who suffers from congenital muscular dystrophy, was so touched by the peaceful atmosphere that he asked his mother to advance his pocket money so that he could donate for the needy.

Another Tzu Chi care-recipient, Krishnan, who has a tumour on his neck, came with his wife. Tzu Chi has been helping his family for over a year. He is very grateful to Tzu Chi volunteers because they have gone through the most difficult times with him and his family. Krishnan made a wish to join as a volunteer when he recovers and also signed up as a monthly donor.

Photo by Yong Siew Lee

Seven Burmese workers came with their employer, Wang Yao Hui, who is a Tzu Chi volunteer, to control the traffic. Although the Buddha Bathing Ceremony was held in Mandarin, they managed to follow the instructions well. Kyaw Zay Ya felt extremely peaceful after the ceremony. He also indicated that he reads the Buddhist scriptures and prays for world peace every night.

At the Exhibition Corner on Tzu Chi's Missions, they were captivated by the posters documenting the relief mission to Myanmar. Through explanations by the volunteer on duty, they learned what Tzu Chi has done for their homeland.

Kyaw Zay Ya said, "I admire the way Tzu Chi carries out their missions. I am most grateful I can help out today!" 

Vow to walk the Bodhisattva Path
Volunteer Lin You Cai, who came in a wheelchair with her daughter and grandson, chose to walk to the basement of the stadium where the Buddha Bathing Ceremony was held. 

Grandma Lin suffers from brain tumour, and at one time was unable to walk and swallow food. With sheer determination, she is now able to walk with crutches after physiotherapy, and is able to talk and swallow her food. She prayed to the Buddha for a speedy recovery because she wants to go back and work in Tzu Chi. 

Grandma Lin held her palms together in front of Master Cheng Yen's photo at the "Seize the Moment" photographic exhibition. Like a lost child, she kept saying, "Master, I am back!"

Bring Buddha to your home
On May 6, Tzu Chi volunteers held a mini Buddha Bathing Ceremony at Huang Jing Jing's house for her 64-year old mother, Lin Rui Fang, who is suffering from acute thyroid tumour. Rui Fang, who came to Malaysia from Indonesia for treatment, would not be able to attend the actual Grand Buddha Bathing Ceremony because it was held on the day after her admission into the hospital. 

Jing Jing knelt in front of the Buddha statue and prayed for her mother to recover soon so that she could continue to repay her mother's kindness. 

Bring the Sutra onto the stage
On May 9, 73 Tzu Chi volunteers from Muar presented the musical drama of "The Thirty-seven Principles of Enlightenment" after three months of practice and rehearsals.

Yan Li Yun and her 7 year-old son, Li Jun Yan, performed together. She gained special understanding of the first of "four Sutra's considerations" which says "consider the body as impure". "Life is short and why should we be petty over little things..." Stressed with the demand of her career and family before this, she has now learned to view the challenges positively.

Through participating in the drama, Sister Zheng Jing Yi learned to be more humble and considerate of the feelings of others. As such, her relationship with her children has improved. 

Photo by Yong Siew Lee

"Buddha" comes to Machap Old Folks' Home
After the Buddha Bathing Ceremony at Tzu Chi Melaka, volunteers from Batu Berendam Zone rushed to Machap Old Folks' Home to celebrate Buddha's Day, Mother's Day and a birthday, with the elderly.
A round table was converted into an altar and the elderly walked in twos to perform the Buddha Bathing Ceremony. Volunteers also prayed for terminally-ill Grandma Lin Ya Lian's wish to go home, to be realized. Children and volunteers then entertained the elderly with sign language performances; and a cake, to celebrate the birthdays of all inmates born in May, was cut. Hopefully, this joint celebration had brought joy to the elderly. 

A ceremony to cleanse our hearts
"I pray for everyone to be healthy, for a harmonious society and a world free from disasters. Everyday I want to have good vows and do good deeds..." The children of Kuala Lumpur Da Ai Educare Centre happily donated the money from their bamboo piggy banks and orderly placed their palms together to pray. 

Everyday 6-year old Zhou Hong Kai will save some money in his bamboo piggy bank and make a good wish. He also encourages his grandfather to do the same. He even asked his parents to stop going to amusement parks and instead transfer the money into the piggy bank.

"Whenever we say unkind words, traces of black dots will appear in our hearts. After the Buddha Bathing ceremony, these black spots will be cleansed and our hearts will be red again..." In order for the children to understand the significance of Buddha Bathing, the kindergarten teacher used this simple analogy to explain. 6-year old Xu Xue Ren waited eagerly for the day to come. He even distributed the promotional leaflets to friends and relatives, hoping for more to attend and to have their hearts cleansed. 

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