OBSERVING SAKA DAWA
Beginning on May 26, and continuing through June 24, the month of Saka Dawa celebrates the Birth, Enlightenment and Death of Shakyamuni Buddha. This month is particularly dedicated to the practice of “merit.” And, in particular, the day of the Full Moon, June 9, which is the day most commonly associated with not only Buddha’s birth but also his enlightenment and passing away- pari-nirvana – is the holiest day in all of Tibetan Buddhism , where it is said that merit generated from virtuous activities will increase to many fold.
The three principal grounds of meritorious action are generosity, morality and meditation, although any positive thoughts, words and deeds are considered grounds for merit. Therefore, we are afforded a wonderful opportunity at this time to be mindful of our actions and to know that what we think, do and say is magnified greatly at this time of year.
Traditionally, during this time, Tibetan Buddhists make pilgrimages to sacred places, monasteries and temples, or they might travel to be in the presence of a lama. They may circumambulate holy shrines, and will always be praying mantras, such as Om Mani Padme Hum.
Giving and generosity are also very important aspects of this auspicious time. Donations are often given to monasteries, temples, monks and nuns, but also to beggars and anyone who might be in need.
A beautiful part of this month is the frequent lighting of butter lamps – these lamps are thought to banish spiritual as well as visual darkness.
And,very importantly, another key aspect of Saka Dawa time is to refrain from eating meat. Some even purchase animals that are intended to be slaughtered, and set them free instead.
So, as we come closer to this time of year, it is wonderful to keep in mind what a fortunate opportunity we all have to increase merit by being positive, mindful and kind to everyone, including ourselves. I send you my very best wishes for a beautiful Saka Dawa, and for happiness at all times.
SHIWA MISSION STATEMENT
The key to true peace and happiness in the world lies no further than in our own hearts and minds.
Shiwa, named after the Tibetan word for “peace,” is a non-profit charitable organization, whose purpose is to assist in the development of genuine compassion and wisdom in the world. Shiwa will help to nurture the natural inborn potential for peace and happiness which is present in all of us.
Shiwa provides a non-denominational facility where participants may attend teachings, classes and seminars on a variety of topics related to personal and community development. The facility provides a location for spiritual growth through teachings, meditation and quiet reflection away from the distractions of the everyday world. At Shiwa, our wish is to help all people in realizing and following a path towards unlimited compassion, deep understanding and true happiness.
Most people face a common situation, where there is some level of discontent and a sense of confusion regarding how to find the source of true happiness within the complexity of living in a modern world. The common response is to try to overcome unhappiness by seeking material solutions outside of ourselves. In reality, the key to true peace and happiness for our inner selves, as well as in the world, lies within our own hearts and minds. All human beings contain the potential to generate compassion and gain wisdom, uncovering the true peace and wisdom that lies within. It is simply a matter of cultivating that potential – nurturing it, developing it, and implementing it in our daily lives.
Shiwa offers the opportunity to do focused retreat and receive instruction in spiritual and meditation practices. Spiritual counseling will also be available. The Shiwa Center welcomes all, as we gather to gain access to the great wisdom traditions of the world as well as modern psychology and science.
Shiwa’s founder, Bhakhang Tulku Rinpoche, has been teaching at the Center for Inner Knowing in Atlanta and has also taught in North Carolina and Virginia. He is a Tibetan Lama from Drepung Monastery in India, and is uniquely qualified to provide leadership and advice in the areas of human development and meditation. He also provides a unique perspective on bringing the timeless wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism into the modern world in a manner open and accessible to all, regardless of their religious or personal beliefs. Through participation in the Shiwa Center, people will learn to become their own teachers, and in turn, living examples of peace and compassion.
The core essence of all wisdom traditions is love and compassion. Shiwa opens its doors to teachers from diverse backgrounds and traditions to present their insights and perspectives on development of inner and outer peace. By focusing on the unity and oneness that underlies surface differences, Rinpoche hopes to dissolve divisions and narrow outlooks that often stand in the way of our fullest potential as individuals, as communities, and across the globe.
We live in a time of great opportunity: it is up to us to choose how we wish to spend our lives on this wondrous earth. May Shiwa play its part in infusing us all with peace, compassion, and love for all beings.