The Complete Guide to Wesak
The global spring spiritual Full Moon Festival of Wesak, Buddha's Birthday, occurs this year on Saturday, May 7, 2020, at 6:45 am Eastern time, the day of the Scorpio Full Moon and the Taurus Solar Festival.
In the East, Wesak is a yearly Festival commemorating the birth of Gautama Buddha, his spiritual enlightenment, and his transcendent journey beyond the manifested universe.
In the West we celebrate Buddha's Birthday, Wesak, every year on the day of the Scorpio Full Moon, Taurus Solar Festival.
For Westerners in general, and Theosophists in particular, the Festival of Wesak is a Global Celebration of the work being done by the Ascended Master Teachers in Spiritual Worlds and by the New Group of World Servers, often known as Lightworkers, in the physical realm on planet Earth. The festival is intended to celebrate the Unity of Eastern and Western mystery schools, especially Buddhism and esoteric Christianity.
However the date of the Buddha's birthday is not fixed worldwide, in contrast to Christmas, which is always and everywhere December 25th. And throughout Asia, differing countries celebrate this festival on different dates, often changing every year.
"On what day is Buddha's birthday? That's simple. Just calculate the first full moon day of the sixth month of the Buddhist lunar calendar, which would be the fourth month of the Chinese calendar, except in years in which there's an extra full moon, and then Buddha's birthday falls in the seventh month. Well, except where it starts a week earlier. And in Tibet it's usually a month later. Oh, and in Japan, Buddha's birthday always is April 8," Barbara Brian explains in an article on Thought.com entitled When is Buddha's Birthday?
So check it out to find out when this celebration occurs in various countries throughout Asia.
Amethyst Gemstone Buddha in Amber Stupa in 22k Gold with Tourmaline Gemstones in Base, by Pedro,
photo Jane Sherry, collection of Satya Center
On Buddha's Birthday(s), millions of Buddhists in thousands of temples across the world from Tokyo in the East to San Francisco in the West gather and pay homage to an Indian Prince who renounced the pleasures of his royal household to seek enlightenment for the purpose of ending human suffering, and to bring peace and happiness to mankind.
Buddha Shakyamuni, the Supremely Enlightened One, was born in 623 B.C. on a May full-moon day, during the month the Hindus call Wesak. The young Prince was named Siddhartha or “the one who has brought about all good”.
As a young man, after excelling in every aspect of his royal education, Siddhartha left his family palace, including his wife and young son, to live the ascetic life of a renunciant. On the 35’th anniversary of his birth, on the full-moon day of the Hindu month of Wesak, while in meditation, seated under a Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, India, the seeker Siddhartha became the Buddha, the Fully Enlightened One.
Bodhi Tree, at the Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhgaya
Photograph from the Mahabodhi Temple complex in Gaya, Bihar taken by Anandajoti.
Photo Dharma from Penang, Malaysia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
For many years the Buddha traveled around Northern India preaching His message of compassion and Loving-Kindness for all beings.
Buddha taught that the individual Self, experienced as the egoistic personality, is an illusion, and that each of us is indissolubly united with the vast web of life that interpenetrates the physical and spiritual realms, extending throughout the space-time continuum, encompassing past, present and future.
Thus, when we help another being we help ourselves. When we harm another being, we harm ourselves. This is the philosophical and spiritual foundation for the practice of compassion and selfless service that defines Buddhist spirituality.
True to this vision of compassionate Unity Consciousness, many of Buddha’s disciples seek to achieve nirvana (or enlightenment, or liberation) by attaining the rank of Bodhisattva. Bodhi means "awakening" or "enlightenment," and sattva means "sentient being." Sattva also has etymological roots that mean "intention," implying the intention to enlighten other beings. Thus the word bodhisattva signifies a spiritually enlightened being whose primary intention is to enlighten other beings.
One becomes a Bodhisattva after arousing the “mind of enlightenment” by taking a vow to attain supreme enlightenment for the sake of all beings.
Kuan-Yin is perhaps the most popular Buddhist figure in East Asia and has become a particular favorite
of American New Age practitioners and Reiki Masters, especially those on the path of Karuna Reiki.
This carved opal Kuan Yin is depicted according to the traditional Buddhist iconography as a slender woman
in flowing robes holding a sacred vase containing the nectar of Divine wisdom and loving compassion,
the two-fold Source of physical, emotional and spiritual healing. She stands on a large lotus flower.
One of the most venerated Buddhist saints in East Asia is Kuan Yin, whose story epitomizes the path of the Bodhisattva. There are many versions of many different stories about the life of Kuan Yin, however the basic theme that is reiterated again and again is as follows. Kuan Yin was a devout Buddhist, often said to be a Princess, who despite her royal upbringing had a much greater attachment to the Spiritual world than the royal court where she and her family lived.
After a life of devotion, self-sacrifice and compassion in which she is said to have been instrumental in the physical, emotional and spiritual healing of her Father, and others, at the moment of her death, Kuan Yin arrived at the Gates of the Buddha Realms, and was offered the opportunity to join the all-male gathering of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in their abode, far beyond this Universe, and beyond even the Realms of the Gods, the place which is no place, Nirvana.
At that moment, Kuan Yin heard a cry for help from a stricken soul in the Earthly realm far, far below. She responded immediately as follows: “Never will I seek nor receive private, individual salvation; never will I enter into final peace alone; but forever and everywhere will I live and strive for the redemption of every creature throughout the world from the bonds of conditioned existence.” This is known as the Kuan Yin vow.
The Bodhisattva is an office, an empowerment, not an individual. The Bodhisattva vows never to obtain nirvana for him or herself alone but to transcend this Universe only when all sentient beings have been liberated from the delusion of individual existence and attained Unity Consciousness.
Many versions of the Bodhisattva vow exist. Here is one: “The passions of delusion are inexhaustible. I vow to extinguish them all at once. The number of beings is endless. I vow to help save them all. The Truth cannot be told. I vow to tell it. The Way which cannot be followed is unattainable. I vow to attain it.”
This beautiful vow contains the seed of all Buddha’s wisdom teachings, which he spread throughout Northern India during his lifetime.
After decades of unremitting work, having firmly established the Buddhist path upon the Earth, on the Wesak Full Moon, forty-five years after his enlightenment, lying between two beautiful sala trees, in front of a large group of his followers, Buddha left his body and transcended phenomenal existence completely.
Today, devout Buddhists celebrate the Buddha’s Birth, Enlightenment and Passing at the Wesak Festival by gathering before dawn to raise the Buddhist Flag and sing hymns in praise of the “Three Jewels” of Buddhism – the Buddha, the Dharma (Teachings), and the Sangha (Spiritual Community). Devotees bring simple offerings of flowers, candles and incense sticks to lay at the feet of their great teacher. These offerings remind us that just as the beautiful flowers wither away after a short time, just as the candles and incense soon burn out, life is subject to decay and destruction.
For this reason it is important to cultivate spiritual practice now and every day in our lives. Spiritual practice alone leads to the flowering of enlightenment. It is important to light the candle of devotion within our hearts and spark the light of wisdom within our minds, by deep meditation grounded in gratitude for our many blessings. It is important to exercise our will and send our sincere prayers for spiritual advancement spiraling to the heavens like coils of smoke from sticks of incense on an altar.
The Global Inter-Denominational Festival of Wesak
Now is the time for each of us to participate in this Scorpio Full Moon's profound moment of global spiritual practice. This is a time for each one of us to perform the necessary purifications and spiritual practices to achieve our very best consciousness and to relate to others and to our world with all the dignity, careful consideration and diplomatic integrity that we would expect from our world leaders at their very best moments.
Over the last one hundred years, the Celebration of Wesak has become a World Festival of Spirituality, transcending the Buddhist community, and is now a major celebration for Lightworkers everywhere.
The Truth of Wesak
“The time has now come when the West should understand the true significance of this event (Wesak),” Alice Bailey revealed. “As men understand and avail themselves of the opportunity offered at the Festival, they place themselves in line with a particular spiritual force. They become vitalized by it, and spiritually stimulated, and are consequently rendered available for service.”
The true spiritual significance of Wesak is this. In the spiritual world, there is a Hierarchy of Ascended Master Guides and Teachers whose elevated consciousness constitutes a kind of collective hive-mind dedicated to the enlightenment of human beings and the acceleration of humanity’s spiritual evolution.
This Hierarchy honors all the various Wisdom Schools of the East and the West, and recognizes the validity of all true religious teachings of every lineage.
Each and every human soul currently embodied on planet Earth is blessed by the special attention of one, and usually more, Ascended Master Guides and Teachers with whom the individual souls have developed a special affinity through countless rounds of reincarnation.
“The Wesak Festival is in recognition of a present living event. It takes place ... whilst some great and heavenly event is going on, and it is in the nature of a participating ceremony,” says Alice Bailey. . . .There is release upon Earth (according to the measure of man's demand) of the blessing of God Himself, transmitted through the Buddha and His Brother, the Christ.”
The Cosmic Christ takes up his position among the congregation in the valley, and the various groups begin to move, forming human, moving mandalas that inscribe through sacred geometry the wisdom teachings of East and West upon the valley’s floor. Chants and mantras rise up into the night sky. As the chanting and the rhythmic movements of the groups quicken and strengthen, mere minutes before the exact time of the Full Moon, a saffron dot appears in the northeastern sky, soaring over the mountains and descending into the sacred valley.
The Buddha appears in his saffron robes, hovering above the great rock, in a full lotus meditation posture, his hand extended in blessing.
At that moment, the Cosmic Christ intones a secret mantram, and the congregation falls upon their faces in a gesture of supplication, gratitude and devotion.
At that moment, the combined energy of the congregation reaches its highest pitch and is met with a vast outpouring of Loving Wisdom in the form of the blessing of the Buddha, conveying energies direct from the Divine Source essential to humanity’s evolution during the coming year.
The Cosmic Christ receives these potent energies, transforms and transmutes them into energies appropriate for the vehicles of the various participants in the Valley and around the world, and distributes these energies to all those receptive and prepared to receive them.
All this takes approximately eight minutes. The Buddha’s annual sacrifice being complete, he returns to that inconceivably elevated place from which he came, at great personal cost, to aid suffering humanity.
The crowd rises to its feet. The water in the bowl is distributed in small portions to the attending Master Teachers, initiates and disciples, and they go their own way to their places of service. The crowd shares the waters of life with one another.
This is symbolic of the initiation of a New Aquarian Age of World Service, in which human beings, symbolized by the Water Bearer, recognize the essential unity of all humanity and willingly share with one another all that is essential for human life and human spiritual evolution.
Wesak Practices for the Wesak Full Moon
Here are some ideas for those who would like to participate in this great Festival of Love and Light.
1.During the day prior to the full Moon, accelerate your spiritual practice as much as possible. Attempt to remain somewhat more quiet than normal. Listen to some uplifting spiritual music, chants or mantras, instead of watching TV if possible. Or simply make some silent time. Meditate. Pray. Ask for the grace and guidance you need to achieve your loftiest spiritual goals. Ask that you be ever more consciously connected to inner spiritual guidance. Ask that you be given golden opportunities to be of maximum service in the world. Give thanks. Perform random acts of kindness.
2.The evening just before the Full Moon, fill any crystal bowls or vases you may have available with water, and place them outside at sunset. Allow these containers to sit outside during the night, and bring them in the following morning after the full moon.
Put the water from the crystal containers into sealed glass bottles. You can use this holy water, infused with the magnetic energy of the Loving Wisdom embodied by Lord Buddha and the Cosmic Christ, to heal your environment, yourself, and others. Place the water in a crystal bowl on your altar, or by your bed, or on your mantelpiece, and simply allow the water to evaporate. Then replace the water as needed. This will elevate the energy within your living space.
Occasionally pour some of this enlivened water into your bath to purify your body and soul. Occasionally drink the water for self-healing. Offer the water to others who are in need of healing. Tell them what they are receiving. Pour this water upon the earth in areas where human beings have damaged the environment, and ask Grandmother Earth for forgiveness.
Jane and I pray that during this Full Moon Wesak Festival you will receive the grace and guidance you need to achieve your loftiest spiritual goals this coming year!
May your lives be full of abundance, joy, health, strength, courage, and above all, may your hearts be opened and may love come into your life day after day!