Recognized as an international holiday by the United Nations in 1999 Visakha Puja is celebrated in Buddhist communities throughout the world. In 1999, 34 countries from around the world including Ireland, Bangladesh, Norway, Slovakia, Spain and the United States approached the United Nations General Assembly to recognize Day of Vesak as an international day.
Based on the positive impact Buddhism has had on the people of the world for 2,500 years, approval was given to recognize the holiday at the United Nations and related offices.
Buddhism is not so much a religion as a mixture of spiritual teachings providing the followers a way to achieve inner peace.
Founded by Siddhartha Gautama in India over 2,500 years ago, Buddhism focuses on the Four Noble Truths and the Eight fold Path.
The Four Noble Truths are:
1) Life is suffering. Not that we suffer but that it is impossible to satisfy all of our desires all of the time. Even though these are temporary circumstances, they are stressful and therefore we suffer.
2) The cause of the suffering is greed or desire. Basically no matter how well things go we are never satisfied, and never will be. The reason we are not satisfied is greed…we want more. We can never have a nice enough house, or nice enough car, or enough money, or a big enough boat….the list goes on. This inability to collect all we want or think we need is what generates stress and unhappiness in our lives.
3) The third truth is the solution to the second truth. To end craving. If we can stop wanting all the stuff we think we need in our lives then the stress will go away and we can stop “suffering”.
4) The Fourth Noble truth is how we learn to stop the craving. That process is to follow the Eight Fold Path.
According to Buddhism the Eight Fold Path are the steps we need to follow each day to bring about the peace we need in our lives and eventually find enlightenment.
Very briefly the Eight Fold Path steps are:
1) the Right View/Right Understanding – what is the true nature of reality.
2) Right Intention – the desire to achieve our own enlightenment.
3) Right Speech – being compassionate and aware that what we say impacts others.
4) Right Action – be ethical in our interactions with ourselves and others.
5) Right Livelihood – being ethical in the way we support ourselves and do no harm to others.
6) Right Effort – being ethical and supportive in all things we do to produce good karma
7) Right Mindfulness – body and mind awareness
8) Right Concentration – taking time each day to reflect and think about those things which went right and went wrong and how to lead a better more positive wholesome life.
It’s a long process, and some people never attain the stage of enlightenment the Buddha reached 2,500 years ago. We need to remember it is the journey which makes us what and who we are.
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