February 19, 2011

Magha Puja

This year I’ve decided to celebrate Buddhist holidays by opening my blog to the voices of Asian American Buddhists. Buddhists across America will be celebrating Magha Puja this weekend, a lunar holiday that took place two nights ago. I decided to ask a good friend about this holiday and what it means to him.

Who are you?

A young (for now) Asian American monk who ordained in the Thai Forest Tradition.

What’s the Buddhist significance of this holiday?

Observing the spontaneous gathering of 1,250 enlightened monks, to hear the Buddha teach on a full moon night.

What does this holiday mean to you?

That so many liberated beings in saffron robes were gathered together in the same place to listen to the words of their liberated teacher, a fully awakened one, is itself beautiful and powerful. Imagine being in the presence of all those noble beings. Beyond that, the Ovada Patimokkha Gatha, what the Buddha taught that night 2,600 years ago, stands the test of time as the best and most concise (not to mention the most quoted) summary of the whole of the Theravada Teachings: “Avoid evil, do good, purify the mind, this is the Teaching of the Buddhas.”

What do you plan to do on/for Magha Puja?

Share the Buddhist Teachings with young people and then attempt to stay up late into the night to meditate and listen to the Dhamma.

Normally I would post a name and photo too, but in this case we agreed that it may be best for young monks to keep a low profile, at least until they’re a little more senior. (Check back in after a few more years!) You can read more about Magha Puja on blogs at Buddha Space, Buddhist Military Sangha and Barbara’s Buddhism Blog.

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