Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The 2600th 'Buddha Jayanthi'
Today, May 17, 2011, is the Vesak full moon (poya) day. For Buddhists, all full moon days are important but Vesak is the most important day. It marks the commemoration of the birth, enlightenment and the parinirvana of the Lord Buddha. Vesak was recognized as an international holiday by the United Nations a few years back, partly due to the work of the then Sri Lankan foreign minister, late Mr. Lakshman Kadiragamar, a Tamil.
The Vesak festival of 2011 is more important as according to the Buddhist history, it marks 2600 years since the enlightenment of Lord Buddha.
At this juncture, 'Buddhism' plays an important role in man's quest for the truth. Many of man's problems were overshadowed by the bi-polar system and the Cold War until 1989, when Communism and Capitalism confronted face-to-face. After 1989, many thought that everything would be fine and were totally dismayed when it did not turn out to be so. Terrorism, religious fundamentalism and other extreme 'isms', along with the impact on the environment, increasing poverty and other social effects have made man rethink about the civilization he has developed so far.
When this happens, man turns back to religion.
Is Buddhism a religion? Or is it an ideology, just like the other numerous 'isms'? If so, what is the importance of 'Buddhism' in seeking the truth.
Lord Buddha was born in an age where man was seeking the truth. There are a number of religious sects said to have been active in the contemporary world of Lord Buddha. What He taught was fundamentally different from other religious sects. Even today, this fundamental difference is evident. Therefore 'Buddhism' is neither a religion, nor an ideology. There is no other teaching compared to Lord Buddha's teachings.
All other religions and ideologies do not offer the path to freedom from the cycle of birth and death, the cycle of sansaara. They are concerned with improving the worldly lives. All politics and religions are more or less following this general objective of making the world a better place according to their believes. Lord Buddha's teachings tell us the 'way of the world' and the path to freedom from the way of the world, the ultimate bliss called 'nirvana'.
The 2600th Buddha Jayanthi is a very good time to rethink about what Lord Buddha taught and make our path to freedom.
May all creatures attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana!