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.