NEWSLETTER – MAY 2019
Like a Lotus that Stands out
As Buddhists all over the world continue to celebrate the 2563rd Vesak ceremony during the current month, it is pertinent to discover who the Buddha is, actually.
We venerate spiritual leaders for two reasons. First, it is their spiritual achievement. Next, it is their contribution to the world. The Buddha has traveled an unparalleled distance in both arenas.
The Buddha is the first to achieve Nibbana, a status of highest inner progress that many strove to attain but only the Buddha succeeded.
Thereafter, the Buddha expounded the Dhamma, paving the way for many to be like him. Besides, he offered the Dhamma that has guided billions towards secular success and spiritual progress. Both the achievements and the contributions of the Buddha speak volumes of his greatness.
Still, the Buddha never identified himself as a god. The following encounter with Dona, a Brahmin, helps us see who the Buddha is:
During one of his long journeys, the Buddha was walking along a connecting road between two cities. After traveling a certain distance on that road, he then decided to take a short rest. Having spotted a secluded and peaceful place near the main road, the Buddha thought it was an ideal place for him to relax. He entered that place, sat in lotus posture under a tree, and began his relaxation.
While traveling on the same road, a prominent Brahmin in that area, by the name of Dona, saw the Buddha sitting in a meditation posture under a tree. Fascinated by the Buddha’s magnificent appearance, Dona began to wonder whether the Buddha was actually a human being or a deity. As he continued watching the Buddha, all the different kinds of higher beings that he had read about in his holy texts came to Dona’s mind.
After a short while, Dona walked towards the Buddha, intending to talk to him. Dona had heard about three kinds of deities, and he wanted to know if the person sitting just in front him were one of them.
“Are you a Deva?” Dona asked the Buddha respectfully, referring to one of the deities he had heard about, and the Buddha replied, “No, I am not a Deva.” Then, Dona asked whether the Buddha was any of the other two kinds of deities, but again the Buddha said, “No.”
Finally, Dona asked, “Then, are you a human being?” and, to his utter surprise, the Buddha replied, “No, Brahmin, I am not a human being, either.”
Surprised, as well as confused, Dona said, “You are saying that you are neither a deity nor a human being. Then, who are you?”
The Buddha gave the following answer:
“Brahmin, A lotus flower or a lily flower is born in [muddy] water and grows in water, but it soon rises above the water and lives untouched by water. In the same way, I was born in the human world and grew in the human world, but I have arisen above the human world [of greed, ill-will, and delusion], and I live untouched by the human world.”
AN 4.1. 4. 6
Vesak Ceremony on May 25 & 26
Our Vesak ceremony will be held this Saturday and Sunday (May 25th and 26th). It is the 31st Vesak ceremony at the Vihara.
Saturday’s program begins with the lighting of Vesak lanterns at 6:30 pm. Atavisi Puja, an offering to venerate all the Buddhas, will be held at 7:00 pm, and the Anusasana will be given by Ven. Sathindriya Thero, meditation teacher and abbot of Triple Gem of North in Minnesota. Afterwards, both children and adults will sing Buddhist hymns in veneration of the Lord Buddha.
Saturday’s annual Dansala, organized by Ayanthi, family members, and friends, will begin at 6:30 pm. Saturday’s dinner will be provided by Sujeeva and Dhammika Gunawardena family. The Vihara is thankful to these volunteers for their kind and generous Dana.
Sunday’s Sila program for adults and children begins at 7:00 am and 9:00 am respectively. Venerable Sathindriya Thero will conduct Sunday’s Sila program for adults while Ven. Upananda Thero will lead the children’s Sila Program.
Afternoon Dhamma talk will be given by Ven. Sathindriya Thero.
Sunday’s breakfast Dana will be offered by the Vihara members in the Clear Lake and Friendswood area.
Sunday’s Dana and lunch will be cooked at the Vihara premises by Madura, Dasun, and friends. Subhashini has contacted a few families to bring several dishes only for the Buddha Puja and Dana for the Maha Sangha. Other participants do not have to bring food; instead, please bring other material like paper towels, paper plates, paper cups, and toilet papers and large trash bags.
Vihara Raises $14,000 for Easter Bomb Attack Victims
Donors have contributed $14,010.00 to help recent bomb attack victims in Sri Lankan churches. Out of this amount, $10,010.00 was raised by Ven. Nanada Thero from the devotees of the Vietnamese temple in Fort Worth.
In early June, we will send you the complete details of the donations. Our plan is to hand over the amount, with specific instruction on how to use the money, to the Cardinal Rev. Malcolm Ranjith during Bhante Rahula’s visit to Sri Lanka.