Today is Wesak day here in Malaysia and this is when Buddhists celebrate the birth, enlightenment and final parinirvana (passing) of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni. That is why I thought I do a little blog post on how to be a Buddhist and contrary to what some people think, it is not about offering joss-sticks, lighting candles and folding our hands to a Buddha statue on Wesak day. It is not about being vegetarian on special Buddhist holidays, holding our Buddhist prayer beads, reciting a few mantras, attending pujas and its also not attending Dharma talks and classes or even reading Dharma books. If its not doing all those, what can it be?
Yeah, I am sure a few of you would say, it’s transformation of the mind. Yup, you are right. If we want to be a real Buddhist, we have to do all of the aforementioned in order to change how we see things and our habits as well. We can read a Dharma book and all it becomes is just knowledge or that it can be something that inspires us to think different, kick our old bad habits and just becoming a kinder person. Our family, culture and society is geared towards increasing our attachments and materialism. This is not about abandoning family and entering into a cave but it is about opening our eyes to see, accept and doing what is best in the eyes of the Dharma.
Another litmus test that we can check within is whether we have become more tolerant of difficult situations or are we more patient with people that irritate us to no end. Are we able to curb our anger and have less conflicts? Do we become more generous and do we find it a priority to keep our promises and commitments in general especially those with our teacher and the 3 Jewels. Do our actions in general, reflect the spirit of Lord Buddha’s teachings that was lovingly given to us by our teacher and do we make it a point to continuously find ways to study and learn the Dharma according to our own capacity.
At the end of the day, the Buddha is not a creator god who would punish us if we don’t act accordingly. The Buddha also would not reward us if we do. It is our own karma that reacts to what we do and just because we may not experience the effects of what we do immediately, it does not mean karma does not exist. As Buddhists, we must have conviction that karma exist just like the way we know that the force of gravity exists. We may not see gravity but we can definitely see the effects of gravity in everything around us. Likewise, we may not see karma directly but we can definitely see the effects of karma around us if we just know how to look. Just thought I share this on this special Wesak day.
Happy Wesak Day!