Buddha & Me #2 It’s Buddha’s birthday

Today is Buddha’s birthday, May 26th, or a specific full moon in Nepal’s calendar, together with the anniversary of his enlightenment and of his death. This is currently the month Jetha in Nepal and in Kathmandu almost every single person will be visiting temples, monasteries and shrines to celebrate. We have experienced such a day in Nepal as we walked to the top of the hill to Swayambhu with tens of thousands of people, young and old, fit and infirmed …….. a magical experience. We cannot be there today, but we will eat rice pudding as is traditional and reflect on that visit. Here’s our usual approach as a tribute to Siddhartha Gautama…. The Buddha.

“Happy birthday Sid” we both said in unison, as he sat down beside us in our favourite wine bar, “in fact triple happy birthday” said Dr C, “a glass of your usual fizzy water to celebrate?”

“Why not, it only comes round once a year!” said the Enlightened One.

How about telling us the story Sid, from the day you were born …. and why a triple birthday” I said.

“OK, I was born Siddhartha Gautama, a prince, around 500BC in your calendar. My parents were Suddhodana the king of the Shakya clan, and Maya Devi, the queen. My actual birthdate was the full moon of the month of Baisakh in the lunar calendar, Bikram Sambat, in Nepal. My place of birth was Lumbini, a city in the south of Nepal as you know …… NOT in India!”

“We’ve been to Lumbini Sid, seen ruins of the palace I guess and the possible spot where you were born. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site now with lots of temples, monasteries and places of learning”.

“It had been predicted that I would become either a great warrior or a spiritual leader, so my father trained me as a warrior and prevented me from travelling away from the palace grounds. He believed he was sheltering me from observing the suffering of ordinary people and I would continue to develop towards following in his footsteps.Then one day when I was 29, I went out on a journey around the surrounding area and saw old age, infirmity, disease and death for the first time. The next day I just knew what I had to do and decided to leave the palace and seek answers to the suffering I had observed and it’s causes. I left the palace secretly because I knew my father would try to stop me so I set off alone into the forest.”

“To cut a long story short, over the next six years I met many talented meditation teachers and mastered their techniques. Always I found that they showed me the mind’s potential but not the nature of mind itself. Finally I wandered to a place called Bodhgaya, and decided to remain in a meditative state until I knew the mind’s true nature and could benefit all beings. It took me six days and nights before I finally understood and reached enlightenment on the full moon morning of Baisakh. This was my “second birthday”, exactly the same date on which I was born, a rebirth you would call it.”

“So is it correct that the first thing you ate on awakening was Kheer (rice pudding flavoured with cardamoms)?”

“Yes, it was given to me by a woman passing by, her name was Sujata. It was the beginning of a new life for me as a teacher, sharing my view of the causes of human suffering and the path to be followed in order to eliminate that suffering”.

“So the 4 Noble Truths and the 8 Fold Path had been revealed to you during this meditation and this is what you decided to spend the rest of your life teaching, the next 45 years of your life in fact before passing away, your third birthday?”

“Well, I’m not sure that revealed is the right word, I worked it out as an explanation and a process to follow in a peaceful manner, doing no harm to others, and showing that a great deal of suffering is caused within and by our own state of mind. In fact I know that one of my recognised quotes is your favourite Dr B …….. All states of being are determined by mind, it is mind that leads the way.”

“Thank you Sid, maybe next time you can give us the 4 Noble Truths and the 8 Fold Path in your own words, simply stated so that some of my followers can get some basic understanding of Buddhism as a way of living one’s life. In the meantime, it might help folks if they want to know a little bit more now to consider these two books. The first is The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh which describes Buddhist philosophy together with the Truths and Path. The second is quite different, Buddha-A Story of Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra which tells the story of Siddhartha Gautama‘s life, almost like a novel and very easy reading.”

In my next post on Buddhism, in one weeks time, I will continue to describe my Buddhist philosophy and my journey towards understanding. I hope you enjoyed this post enough to comment and will follow the weekly series.

Categories: Buddha

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11 replies

  1. In Bhutan, The day is observed as Lord Buddha’s Parinirvana or Duechen Nga Zom. It is observed on the 15th day of the fourth month of Bhutanese calendar every year.
    It was on this day Buddha was conceived, born, and subdued evil, gained enlightenment and attained Nirvana.
    Considered as one of the most auspicious days, Buddhists visit religious sites and offer prayers and butter lamps in Bhutan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, I appreciate knowing it’s name and how it is scheduled in Bhutan. I should have visited during my many trips to Nepal over the years 🙏🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a lovely post Dr. B! Here in Niagara, in the city of Niagara Falls we have a large Buddhist temple. Each year there are celebrations around this time. Sometimes it coincides with our long weekend. Naturally, this year none was the case and the temple has been closed to tourists for over a year. However, having visited there before I can say it is a wonderfully calm and peaceful place and is filled with the essence of the Buddha’s teachings. Glad you celebrated his birthday with his favourite, rice pudding.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Every year, it’s about the only day I eat the stuff! Unfortunately we live about 200 miles away from the Buddhist temple where we have attended retreats in Cumbria. I have a post scheduled for next week about my first retreat there 🙏🙏


  3. Thank you, we ate some rice pudding at around 1.30pm.


  4. Love that last photograph you’ve put up. It’s stupendous. Today I joined online with some of my Buddhist friends in lighting a candle for Visakha Puja at 1.30 pm. and afterwards we chatted about other birthdays we’ve celebrated, both the Lord Buddha’s and our own. The coming together, even online, was a good experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a fabulous post in Buddha Jayanti 🙏 funny story telling of Buddha’s life with humourous tone😀👍would love to read coming up series that you promised ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Is that you B, you found a way in? Thank you for your comment …. tomorrow it’s Covid and Nepal ….. you’re in it 🙏🙏🙏


  6. Love your retelling! Such fun!
    We celebrate this occasion in Singapore as Vesak Day – one of our official public holidays.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. 🙏 Vesak sounds like the Nepali word Baisak, which is roughly the month of April in the Gregorian calendar. We are now in the month of Jetha in Nepal with full moon being Buddha’s Birthday. I wonder if Vesak and Baisak are the same with Baisak 1st being New Year’s Day in Nepal, mid April 😂


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