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Tomorrow (Monday) is Saga Dawa Duchen, or one of the most auspicious (four) Buddhist holidays of the year. It falls on the Full Moon of the Fourth Tibetan lunar month, so it is not a set date every year. It is known as the Festival of Vaishakha, and it celebrates the Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment and parinirvana.
Supposedly, at least in Tibetan Buddhism, any virtuous activities we engage in on this day are multiplied millions of times. So we gain great merit from being generous, for avoiding harm, etc. But on the flip side, our non-virtuous or harmful behavior is also multiplied millions of times, so it is typically a good day to be extra mindful and patient. And when I say patient here, I mean the resisting-angry-reactions patience.
Some teachers have said that it is good to practice meditation on this day. And I have also heard that we can do one or more of the following practices on this day to take advantage of the Full Moon and the extra auspicious fortune around this particular holiday.
If we are Buddhist practitioners:
We can do Amitabha practice – the Buddha Amitabha, or the Buddha of Boundless Light, is supposed to help beings when they die, so this is a good Full Moon practice to do in general. If we have the training and the transmission from an authentic teacher, I have also heard that Phowa is a good Full Moon practice. Phowa (pronounced with an aspirated “P”) is a ritual that is done in preparation for the time of death, and it is done to benefit beings who have recently passed away.
If we are not entirely sure about Buddhism, we can do the following prayer:
If we don’t have a lot of time, then it might be good to read aloud the King of Aspiration Prayers, (or Samantabhadra’s Aspirations to Good Conduct) as this is supposed to be a very powerful prayer. And if it is auspicious to read this aloud on a normal day, imagine how meritorious it might be to read it on a day when the benefit is multiplied by millions of times. Not that this is an excuse to be lazy on non-holidays, but it can be auspicious to read this prayer on eclipse days and on Buddhist holidays. It is also auspicious to read this when someone is sick or has just passed away.
We might also choose to do a confession of our non-virtuous actions (Confession of Bodhisattva’s Faults), we could also chant the Heart Sutra several times. If we feel so inclined, another nice pith practice is to do the 7-line Prayer to Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche’s 7 Line prayer) and then chant the mantra 111 times. And finally, Garchen Rinpoche says that reciting the 37 Bodhisattva Practices is a beneficial practice to do.
I have heard that it is also very auspicious to offer a Tsog feast – an offering of delicious, clean food and drink to the wisdom beings and in particular to the lineage Lamas. This can take some time and it would be good to know what you are doing. But if you have the time and the training, then it might be good to do this practice.
If nothing else, then it would be good to one or more of the following which was suggested by the Buddha:
Cause No Harm,
and Tame Your Mind.
written extemporaneously by M. Kirby Moore on June 3rd, 2012. He who is just an ordinary human being with an afflicted mind, so take these recommendations with a grain of salt and get an authentic teacher’s recommendation for what to practice.