Revitalising forces are readily available on Buddha Poornima, and when we are able to align with them on this day, they accompany us during the next twelve months.
The young Siddhartha, born in Eastern India, on the Poornima (Full moon) of May, would attain his one desire - Nirvana on another May full moon, 35 years later. A magnificent Boddhi tree, stands witness even today on the very spot where he became illumined , in the little town of Bodhgaya, as companion and testimony to the enlightened sage. Under its shade, Siddhartha sat for 49 days and nights, focused on the Compassionate One within. Tens of thousands of people flock to this tree every year, hoping to be touched by its sacred energy. And they are! For the Buddha lives eternally in all compassionate hearts, bringing joy to all beings who surround them.
The Buddha’s path invites us to turn within, with one pointed focus to awaken the observer, the witness. Through this observation of oneself, of one’s tendencies and desires, the path invites us to remove weed after weed, some shallow, others deeply rooted. Just like the weeds on the ground don’t allow the earth to blossom, those within us don’t allow joy into our hearts.
Legend has it that on special days, like Buddha Poornima, the Earth’s energies align with the cosmos and the blessings of the Living Buddha become easily available to all. All over the world, through chants, meditation, prayer and celebration, people open themselves to these divine vibrations, not only to benefit themselves, but for all creatures — without disturbing those not ready to embrace it — for that is the way of Dharma. The light of the Buddha accompanies all who undertake this voyage within. While a sangha (assembly) amplifies the energies available, the journey can be undertaken in solitude. Inward bound, it takes one closer to true essence, lying hidden in the most profound places of one’s being. Once this realm is reached, then like the Compassionate One himself, one shines like the full moon, in a star studded sky. When all samskaras (mental impressions), all vasanas (karmic tendencies) become naught but luminous. Just as surely as the melting glacier finds its way to the ocean, he who becomes a light unto himself, becomes a light unto others.
Siddhartha left home at 29, leaving behind all the luxuries and wealth that surrounded him. The path he embraced, of the ascetic, was not an easy one. And even more difficult for a young prince, brought up in pomp and splendour. His family, like many others , thought of the path as self negating and full of difficulties. Siddhartha thought otherwise. It was clear as daylight to him, that this samsara, where all turned in circles, coming and going endlessly, achieving nothing at all, doing the same things day in and day out, life after life, despairing yet hoping for joy, was the one full of hardships. He left the palace gates quietly, while everyone slept. There was no use talking about his vision. None could see the exuberance, the freedom it offered. Few had the discrimination to stop awhile and observe themselves. Running form pillar to post with every rising sun. And returning home every evening, having strived in vain, achieving nothing of any durable value. For what did the body need, but to protect itself from the intemperie. What did the mind need apart from being absorbed in joy, like bees unto nectar. And the heart? It needs no more than to dance in the sunlight as do trees, who mysteriously fill the air with fragrant flowers in their worship and joy. Every moment a door is open, but joy finds no way in. Siddhartha knew that the seeds of a million desires block her way. Complete renunciation was now his path.
When 6 years later, he returned as the Compassionate Teacher, his beautiful young wife Queen Yashodhara, ran to greet him in her boundless joy. Her grief upon his leaving had been boundless too. Her heart overflowed with love, but a question remained. “My lord, could you not have found Nirvana, this precious gift unto the world, while living here with us, in the palace grounds ?” The Buddha looked upon her shining face and remained silent. Maybe his silence said that for him it was necessary, but each must find what suits them best?
Through self awareness and constant enquiry into one’s own nature, one comes closer to the truth. The very first moment of self awareness comes as the first blessing. The awareness that perhaps there is another path to joyousness, a more permanent one than what is offered by Samsara (existence). This first awakening when pursued with focus and tenacity, leads to the ultimate awakening — Nirvana.
Legend has it that prayer, chants, mediation and celebration on Buddha Purnima prepare our consciousness to shift to higher possibilities. New, revitalising forces are readily available, and when we are able to align with them on this day, they accompany us during the next twelve months. The goal is to awaken the sakshi (witness), by inner silence through the eightfold path. The divine forces that come into play on this day, align us easily with themselves. Consciousness is carried into divine realms, if we are willing to open ourselves to them.
The great Om and other mantras and invocations are chanted during this opening of mind and heart. While the entire day is highly energised, special moments are sunrise, sunset and the exact moment the moon becomes entirely visible. To share these higher forces of joy and peace, once attained with all other beings is the tenet of the Buddha's teachings. Of what use is happiness if one keeps it unto himself? The search for Nirvana is not an individuals search as is often thought. To become a light unto all, is the divine path. To bring forth the spark of light, love and joy from the deepest realms of one’s own heart, into the world, that is the teaching of the Buddha.
Let the compassionate One live on in the hearts of all creatures. What purpose, what desire can be higher than this one desire of young Siddhartha , the future Buddha.