Master Ruyuan’s speech for 2023 Vesak Day
Greetings to all! As you may know, today marks the birthday of the Buddha. Through the internet, you may already be familiar with the origins of the Vesak festival. The reason why the Vesak celebration has endured for thousands of years is the presence of the Buddha’s teachings, propagated by the Buddhist community representing the Buddhist Triple Gem: the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
Over 2,500 years ago, the Buddha attained awakening to the ultimate truth of the universe and life, freeing himself from suffering, and then taught his path to liberation to many others. We are immensely grateful to the Buddha because without his birth, we would not have had the opportunity to learn about the resolution to human suffering. After the Buddha’s nirvana, it became the duty of the Sangha to preserve the Triple Gem—Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha—for future generations by spreading the Buddha’s teachings.
Where there is a Sangha, there exists the Dharma; where there is the Dharma, there is the embodiment of the Buddha’s teachings. Therefore, the Dharma represents the Buddha and the Sangha. As long as there is a Sangha, we can continue to pay our respects to the Buddha, our great teacher, just as we would to our parents. As long as there is a Sangha, the celebration and commemoration of the Buddha’s birthday and legacy will endure.
Within the Buddhist community, various types of ceremonies exist, and some may not be conducted or given as much importance. However, the Buddha’s birthday ceremony must always be cherished and celebrated! By continuing to observe the Vesak ceremony each year, we signify the continued presence of the Buddha’s teachings in the world!