Buddhism Week!

Happy Wisakha Bucha / วิสาขบูชา ! That’s Vesak Day in Thailand.

Visakha Bucha in Chiang Mai ~ Thailand
Photo by Canvas of Light
Thailand (2012)

Visakha Bucha, Pattaya

Strangely enough, most places in the world celebrated Vesak Day a month ago, around 4 May. Singapore, Thailand and Laos are celebrating it today - Indonesia’s having a go tomorrow. It all depends on the local full moon, it seems.

Thai Fest explains some of the history of the festival:

In Thailand, the performance of the rituals on Visakha Bucha day had been continuously observed from the Sukhothai period [1238-1438] because of the close religious relations between Thailand and Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan monks came to propagate Buddhism in Thailand and were highly respected. Thai monks also went to study in Sri Lanka. It’s believed that, those monks introduced this ceremony to the King and people at that time.The observance on Visakha Bucha Day was concluded in the Nang Noppamat book as follow :-

               “ On Visakha Bucha Day, the King and all the people in the Kingdom would clean up the Kingdom and decorate the Kingdom with flowers and lights to pay homage to the Buddha for 3 days. In the evening, all the people gather together to Vientien at the Ubosatha hall. On Visakha Bucha Day, the Sukothai people observe the precepts, listen to Buddhist sermon, offer dedicated to Buddhist monks and donate money to the poor. Some people also redeem the life of the animals since they believe this will help prolong their lives.”

The practice actually lapsed for a while, then got introduced by King Rama II in the early 1800s. Since then, there’s all your usual Vesak Day stuff: your lantern parades:


And a lot of paying offerings to monks, then listening to their dhamma talks:


And in case you were thinking, “Hey, Vesak Day’s a full moon, there’ll be a Full Moon Party!”, let me disappoint you by saying that the sale of alcohol is prohibited on this day, and no such parties will be taking place.

Well, they’ll be postponed to a couple of days later. But hey, I’m just glad some things are sacred.


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It is not only the Church that is called to be the image of One God in Three Persons, but also the family, based on marriage between man and woman. In the beginning, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’” (Gen 1:27-28). God created us male and female, equal in dignity, but also with respective and complementary characteristics, so that the two might be a gift for each other, might value each other and might bring into being a community of love and life. It is love that makes the human person the authentic image of the Blessed Trinity, image of God.
Dear married couples, in living out your marriage you are not giving each other any particular thing or activity, but your whole lives. And your love is fruitful first and foremost for yourselves, because you desire and accomplish one another’s good, you experience the joy of receiving and giving. It is also fruitful in your generous and responsible procreation of children, in your attentive care for them, and in their vigilant and wise education. And lastly, it is fruitful for society, because family life is the first and irreplaceable school of social virtues, such as respect for persons, gratuitousness, trust, responsibility, solidarity, cooperation.

Pope Benedict XVI, Homily (2012)

Happy Blessed Trinity Sunday!

We have already heard that the Lord ’s last words to his disciples on this earth were: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (cf. Mt 28:19).
Make disciples and baptize them. Why is it not enough for disciples to know Jesus’ teaching, to know the Christian values? Why is it necessary to be baptized? This is the topic of our reflection, in order to understand the reality and depth of the Sacrament of Baptism.
A first door opens if we read these words of the Lord carefully. The choice of the word “in the name of the Father” in the Greek text is very important: the Lord says “eis” and not “en”, that is, not “in the name” of the Trinity — as when we say that a vice-prefect speaks “on behalf” of the prefect, an ambassador speaks “on behalf” of the government: no. It says: “eis to onoma”, that is, an immersion in the name of the Trinity, a being inserted in the name of the Trinity, an interpenetration of being in God and of our being, a being immersed in God the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; just as it is in marriage, for example. Two people become one flesh, they become a new and unique reality with a new and unique name.
—  Pope Benedict XVI, Lectio Divina (2012)