Saga Dawa Introduction
By Geshe Dakpa Topgyal
Lord Buddha Shakyamuni, commonly known as Sidhartha or Guatama, was born in Lumbini, India 2,600 years ago. He was born into a highly respected Royal Hindu Family of the Shakya clan. He had very strong psychic powers and intelligence from his childhood. Until his age 29, he enjoyed every possible worldly pleasure and comfort that was provided by his royal family. He was married and had one son. However, he found that nothing was capable to provide long lasting satisfaction and happiness. Every worldly and sensory pleasure that we ordinarily enjoy is just temporary with a natural seed that leads to pain of dissatisfaction, frustration, and disappointment as their final result. Having found the fact that nothing is capable to provide true happiness and long lasting satisfaction, he renounced the external sensory world by giving up expectation and attachment towards the material world without denying its conventional validity. He realized that the material world in which we live is like a fire field covered with a thin ash. We suffer in every moment no matter where we live and where we walk on this fire field. The ordinary world which is like a fire field covered with a thin ash is called “samsara”.Prince Sidhartha renounced the material world at the age of 29 and became a monk with simplicity and freedom from owning anything and being owned by anything. The first step that he took in the search for Enlightenment and permanent freedom from Samsara that is bound to pain and suffering was the generation of powerful Compassion and Bodhicitta in his heart and mind. He had overcome from his self-cherishing mind or attitude through the force of Compassion and Bodhicitta. The second step that he took in search of Enlightenment was engagement in the practice of accumulation of merit and purification of negativities of karmic obstructions. The accumulation of merit and purification of karmic obstructions is the first and foremost important factor for the generation of spiritual realization through the practice of ethics, meditation, method and wisdom.After having built a strong spiritual foundation through the practice of accumulation of merit and purification of karmic obstructions, he engaged in intensive meditation practice for six years in order to gain higher psychic power and penetrative insight into the ultimate truth of emptiness. Finally, he attained enlightenment at the age of 35 on the auspicious day of the full moon of the 4th Lunar month. Therefore, the 4th Lunar month is called “Saga Dawa” in Tibetan, “Wesak” in Pali, and “Buddha purnima” in Sanskrit. The 4th Lunar month is considered a very special, holy and sacred month from Buddhist point of view. The reason is that three Great events of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni took place in this same month and on the same day of the full moon. The three Great events that took place are:
Parinirvana (passing into eternal peace by dissolving his gross physical body from the eyes of the ordinary world in order to motivate and remind his followers that life is impermanent, transient, and temporary).
Buddhists believe that due to the Sacredness of the month, whatever we do, either positive deeds or negative deeds, naturally become very powerful and strong. Therefore, it is important for us to do virtuous actions and deeds through our body, speech, and mind. You can do so by remembering the kindness of Buddha and how he sacrificed his royal life for the sole benefit of all sentient beings to find true happiness and freedom from samsara. Some of the examples of practices and meritorious deeds that you can do are:
Making attractive and colorful material offerings of fresh flowers, candle lights, fragrant incense, fresh and scented water offering before the enlightened beings
Giving material help of food, drink, cloth, and medicine to poor and needy ones
Abstaining from eating meat and alcohol
Observing celibacy if possible in the month of Saga Dawa
Sitting in retreat for a week or two by limiting your sensory activities and social interaction and solely putting effort to do intensive spiritual practices of Love, Compassion, meditation, purification, and Tong-Len (giving and taking) practice.
Overall, one must make effort to engage in positive deeds and actions and avoid from negative actions and deeds as much as one can because whatever you do, either positive or negative, will multiply by billions. You can make a huge amount of merit through small effort within a short period. Therefore, do not misuse this sacred day just for worldly and mundane achievement.May the merit created from my humble and sincere act of honoring Lord Buddha’s three Great events become a powerful cause for all sentient beings to come under the compassionate care of enlightened beings in all their rebirths.
Geshe Dakpa Topgyal
10th, 4th Lunar month
May 24, 2007