Asalha Puja Day
Asalha Puja Day is an important day of Buddhism. After the Buddha attained enlightenment on the 6th lunar month, he gave his first sermon to the first five disciples at the Deer Park in Sarnath (Isipatana), Varanasi, Magadha. One of the first five disciples, Añña Koṇḍañña, attained the first stage of enlightenment and became the first monk in Buddhism. Thus, it was the day that the Triple Gem was completed; Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, which happened 45 years before the Buddhist Era.
On this day, the Buddha gave the first sermon “Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta” which means “Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Dhamma”. It was the day the wheel of the Buddha’s teachings spun for the first time.
This first pivotal sermon contains two main topics.
The first is “Majjhimā-paṭipadā” or the Middle Way. It is the ethical practice that leads to enlightenment, not a life on either of these two extreme paths:
– Indulging in sensual pleasures through body, taste, smell and sound which is called “Kamasukhallikanuyoga”.
– Living a wandering life, practicing self-mortification such as self-torturing or relying on the power of sacred things which cause suffering to oneself physically and mentally. It is known as “Attakilamathanuyoga”.
Therefore, to refrain from these practices, one must walk the middle path which is to live with wisdom. There are eight elements of practice, known as the Noble Eightfold Path, which are:
1. Sammāditthi: Right View – correct understanding of the nature of things.
2. Sammāsańkappa: Right Thought – intention to do good deeds.
3. Sammāvācā: Right Speech – purity of verbal action.
4. Sammākammanta: Right Action – purity of physical action.
5. Sammā-ājīva: Right Livelihood – conducting an honest occupation or livelihood.
6. Sammāvāyama: Right Effort – preserving and multiplying those wholesome qualities.
7. Sammāsati: Right Mindfulness – developing awareness of body and mind.
8. Sammāsamādhi: Right Concentration – developing single-mindedness to keep the mind stable and undisturbed.
The second is the Four Noble Truths, meaning the truth of the noble ones who are far from defilements (kilesa);
1. Dukkha: Suffering – It means all problems that occur to humans. One must be aware of thing as it really is, dare to face problems, dare to face the truth and understand the world condition that everything is impermanent, it has to change. Therefore, one must not attach to anything.
2. Samudaya: Origin of suffering – The main reason of suffering is desire or craving which is related to other factors.
3. Nirodha: Cessation of suffering – It begins with an independent life, being aware of the world and living with wisdom.
4. Magga: Path to cessation of suffering – It is the Noble Eightfold Path that leads to the end of suffering.
On this important day, Buddhists usually make merit, offer alms to monks, keep the precepts, listen to Buddha’s teachings and pray. In the evening, they may participate in candlelight procession at a temple to carry on the good traditions.
With the unusual situation today, all Buddhists can also make merit by donating to help the needy and various organizations. This contribution can help others and the country in this time of crisis. Furthermore, we should pay homage to the Triple Gem by observing the precepts, and make merit by practicing meditation in order to purify our minds so that we will be ready to walk on the path to reach spiritual liberation.
24 July 2021
Knowing Buddha Organization
Source: National Buddhism Office
Compiled by Mr. Thanatphong Metheepiyawat
Translation: Samroeng Thongrong