Friday, October 6, 2017

The Connection Between Mid-Autumn Festival and Buddhism

          Today is the Mid-Autumn Festival. We did a Guru Rinpoche Practice under the guidance of Acho Rinpoche. After which, Acho Rinpoche shared with us a story told by Venerable Haitao with regards to the Mid-Autumn Festival. Venerable Haitao said that the folk tale about a rabbit residing in the moon was somehow related to Buddhism too. In one of the numerous past lives of Sakyamuni Buddha, he was born as the king of rabbit once. It became the spiritual leader to the animals in the forest and advocated the practice of offering on every 15th day of the month. One day, this king of rabbit made a vow that it wished to offer its body for the benefits of other sentient beings. It was a very powerful vow that shook the entire universe. Even the Jade Emperor in the heaven felt the tremors while sitting in his throne. A sentient being can be born as a Jade Emperor endowed with the greatest wealth and longevity in the heavenly realm if he abides by the Five Precepts (no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying and no overdose of alcohol) and observes the Seven Good Conducts (filial piety, reverence to the elders and teachers, gentleness in speech and conduct, no criticism of others, no lying, no scolding and no anger). So, the Jade Emperor decided to test the determination of the king of rabbit and transformed himself into a poor old man begging for food. The rabbits offered him vegetables for meal but he rejected them and demanded for meat instead. The king of rabbit did not hesitate at all and just leaped into a fire, planning to offer its body as meal to the old man. The Jade Emperor was very touched by the conduct of the king of rabbit and transformed the fire into lotus through his magical power, thus saving the king of rabbit from sacrificing itself. Ever since, come the 15th day of every month on a full moon day, we are reminded of this touching story about the king of rabbit and the importance of offering. 
Besides, the Tibetans also celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in a different way. Their version of the story was related to the Karmapa. In 1339, on the 14th day of the eighth lunar month, the 3rd Karmapa gave his teachings to his audience upon the request of the Mongolian emperor, Yuan Shun. After giving his teaching, the 3rd Karmapa passed away on the 14th of the eighth lunar month. However, on the following day, many people saw the appearance of the 3rd Karmapa in the moon above the sky! Ever since, the Karma Kagyud school of Tibetan Buddhism regarded the 15th day of the eighth lunar month a very sacred day.

Finally, we ended our prayer by reciting the names of the Buddhas under the guidance of Acho Rinpoche, and dedicated the merits to all sentient beings - may all sentient beings be happy, free of sufferings and attain enlightenment one day. 

Reported by Sun Moon KFS on 4-10-2017 @Singapore