Friday, May 11, 2012

Buddha's Birthday Celebration

The man recognized as the Buddha was born Siddhartha Gautama. It was after Siddhartha undertook a spiritual quest of various extremes that he eventually arrived at a middle way and is believed to have attained enlightenment.

The exact date he was born is somewhat a matter of debate, as one might reasonably understand of a day that dawned some 2,500 years ago. Specifics depend on the particular lineage of Buddhism one consults, but the birthday of the Buddha is generally agreed to fall sometime during the early part of the second quarter of our currently used calendar year. It therefore came to pass that the first weekend of May, 2012, in Orlando, Florida, jointly consisted of a supermoon, Cinco de Mayo and a grand celebration conducted at Guang Ming Temple in which the birth of the Buddha was honored.

Buddhism and the Paranormal

One need not look too awfully far to find circumstances within Buddhist traditions of potential interest to those who follow things that go bump in the night. Certain Buddhist texts, for instance, describe the Buddha and his initial followers to have been visited by devas, or non-human beings considered to be more highly evolved than humans. On one occasion the arrival of the devas was said to "light up the entire Jetta Grove with their effulgence."

A deva was also said to have counseled the Buddha shortly after his enlightenment. While still sitting beneath the now famed bodhi tree, it seems Siddartha experienced feelings of futility when considering explaining his acquired knowledge to others. The deva then arrived, however, and encouraged the Buddha to distribute his insights, explaining that some people had less dust in their eyes than others and would therefore benefit greatly from his wisdom and guidance.

The Buddhist worldview includes room for a wide variety of non-human beings, entities and non-ordinary states of consciousness. To an extent, actually, that practicing Buddhists do not view certain circumstances as particularly unexplained or perplexing that are commonly thought to be so in the traditional Western worldview.

It should be noted, however, that Buddhism is considered a practice of mindfulness and being. The practice is centered around meditation techniques, and monks do not typically encourage disproportionately delving into any particular concept or aspect of study as compared to learning practical application of acquired skills. Doing so might at times be difficult when chewing on such potentially distracting mental puzzles as those contained in The Tibetan Book of the Dead and similar such circumstances. Thus the Buddhist saying, "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water - after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water." 

The Celebration

I was met by the pleasant aroma of burning incense upon entering the Guang Ming Temple of Orlando. The facility well accommodated the hundreds of visitors who attended the Sunday, May 6, celebration.

The schedule for the day included a morning formal ceremony, entertainment activities and guided tours of the temple. Lots of vegetarian dishes were available to enjoy by afternoon, and cultural festivities consisted of an impressive art exhibit and silent auction.

Various statues and figurines were available in the silent auction, including a particularly detailed large wood piece. Calligraphy, framed copies of Buddhist texts and similar such keepsakes were also offered.

Items available in the silent auction included:

Just a few of the many quality entries in the art exhibit:

A striking painting by Xinlin Fan

The sun on a beach horizon painted by Sylvia Wan

Eleven-year-old Jefferson Tao expressed his fondness for foods
from the corners of the globe

Melody Halbert, eleven-years-old, shared her interpretation of people of
diverse ethnic backgrounds jointly supporting space exploration 

Eleven-year-old Jenna Chen showed quite the knack for drawing a tiger
All photos in this post were taken on May 6, 2012, at the Buddha's Birthday Celebration conducted at Guang Ming Temple, pictured below.

1 comment:

  1. Boddhisatva of the EarthMay 12, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    There is very little difference between ourselves and a Buddha! Nichiren from Japan said, we should burn the logs of desire and then we can get light, and then we can see! He got that from the Lotus Sutra, in which the Buddha explained his own enlightenment with his own eye. Happy Birthday to all of us. Happy Birthday Buddha!