On Sunday, May 6, we had another successful celebration of the Buddha’s Birthday. The day dawned with a spectacular display of clouds over Rocky Butte to the east. We put out the flag announcing a public ceremony. After the ceremony, adults gathered on the engawa and elsewhere to watch the kids knock down the traditional zenata (a white elephant with 6 tusks) filled with candy and goodies.
Some people have asked for the words to the Wesak Hymn (Holy Day of Wesak) and also the offertory during the ceremony. So here they are.
HOLY DAY OF WESAK
(from the Jodo Shinshu Songbook)
Buddha Lord we offer
On thy birthday fair
Garlands of the brightest
Blossoms choice and rare.
Holy day of Wesak
Day of Buddha’s birth
When the sun of wisdom
Shone upon the earth.
Incense too we offer
On this festive day
For the things we cherish
All must pass away.
Through this holy symbol
We shall learn to see
Things of priceless value
Hid in transiency.
And the deep gong sounding
Bids us leave the self
And in Buddha’s teaching
Find the truest wealth.
Lights upon the altar
Show to us the way
from the realms of darkness
To Nirvana’s day.
From Great Compassion comes forth the Pure Dharma Body.
We pray that the darkness of our delusions
May be illuminated by True Compassion.
On this 6th day of May we are gathered here to offer sweet tea, flowers, candles, water, and cakes
to celebrate the birth of our Great Master, Shakyamuni Buddha.
Out of gratitude we wish to offer the merits of the recitation of the Wesak Hymn and “The Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra.”
The wonderful Undambara flower bloomed upon this day.
And the meaning of this festival is found within its blossom.
Even as its sweet fragrance fills the whole world,
so does Buddhism cover the earth.
The birth of Shakyamuni brought the sun of hope to a world of darkness.
And illuminated the whole Universe.
He took upon Himself the form of a human being,
was born with the 32 marks of a Buddha,
And for immeasurable time pursued works of Great Compassion.
He found and transcended the cause of suffering.
All beings whether saints or laymen praise this magnificent understanding.
His 300 sermons are for us as rain is for the trees and grass.
Just as rain causes drooping flowers to flourish
so his words touch our heavy hearts.
At this very moment the rain of the Dharma
Pours into the lake of Kindness.
The merit of His life may be likened to the wind which,
as it bends the grass and fans the leaves,
blows the good seed of the Dharma to take root in the hearts of people all over the world,
even after 2,000 years,
And will continue to do so, not only in this world but also in the next.
We the followers of our Great Master Shakyamuni
Bow in gratitude to Him – for His goodness and compassion
As we celebrate His birthday.
We pray that His halo, which is the light of the Dharma,
Will illuminate the darkness of the delusion of those beings of this world who have not heard His name.
We pray that all beings may be saved and thus prosper for all eternity.
We pray that the seed of Buddhahood
Will bud and blossom into the flower of enlightenment
So that its beauty may fill the universe.