This week, we joyfully observe the most important date on the Buddhist calendar as we welcome the year 2561 of the Buddhist Era. It is a time to rejoice spiritually as we reflect with gratitude on how fortunate we are to have taken birth during a time when the Dhamma which was taught by the Sammā Saṃbuddha is still available. We are truly blessed to celebrate every ‘Buddha Day’.
Let us be thankful that we are able to hear the Dhamma and practise the sublime Teachings even though more than 26 centuries have passed since the Blessed One appeared on earth. It is easy to take this fortunate existence for granted, but we must remind ourselves that to be born at a time when the Dhamma is available to us is a rare privilege indeed, as Dhammapada Verse 182 declares :
Kiccho manussapatilābho Rare is birth as a human being,
kicchaṃ maccāna jīvitaṃ Hard is life as a mortal;
kicchaṃ saddhammasavanaṃ Difficult it is to hear the sublime Dhamma,
kiccho buddhānaṃ uppādo. Rare is the appearance of the Buddhas.
Realising what a rare opportunity has come our way to experience perfect happiness, on this ‘Buddha Day’, let us resolve to make every effort to use this fortunate human birth to practise the essential Truth of the Dhamma with understanding, so that we can finally escape from the endless suffering we have to undergo in Saṃsāra.
While rejoicing over the relatively fortunate circumstances of our present birth as humans, let us also reflect with gratitude on the appearance of the Sammā Saṃbuddha, who out of great compassion, taught us how to understand the nature of suffering and the way to end it. On Wesak Full-moon day, we recall the superhuman effort made by the Buddha-to-be to rediscover the ancient path which leads to the greatest of all human achievements — the attainment of Nibbāna.
Today we pay homage to this great Teacher of gods and men who worked tirelessly over enormous expanses of time to release all beings from the shackles of Ignorance, Craving and Attachment. But this homage must not stop at mere adulation, because simply singing His praises would be profitless. The Buddha said that the best way to honour Him is to practise what He taught, to tread the Path that He trod, and finally gain the perfect bliss that He attained 26 centuries ago. The best way to honour a teacher is to practise his teachings.
Therefore let us all together go to the Buddha as our peerless refuge, and let us undertake to sincerely practise the sublime teachings, truly understanding that existence is fraught with suffering, and the only escape is by diligently following the Noble Eightfold Path that leads to everlasting peace and happiness. May we all attain the final bliss of Nibbāna!