Wesak Day

Wesak Day (Vesak or Visakha Puja Day) is one of the most important days celebrated by Buddhists worldwide. During this day, many Buddhist would be visiting temples to do offerings, renew their vows (precepts) and to do spiritual practice such as chanting.

For those who wish to visit Buddhist temples during this upcoming Wesak Day, below are some temples in Malaysia. These are temples that I have visited before:

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I also have an article on self practice on Wesak Day with Theravadian Pali chant.

Spiritual Practice is not only on Wesak Day

There is a term known as “Wesak day Buddhist” which was being used to refer to Buddhist who only visit and practice once a year, ie during Wesak Day. Hence during Wesak Day, we can see temples all over the place being jam packed with visitors seeking blessings, fortune and protection.

The world is becoming very uncertain now. Hence, I really urge you do start your spiritual practice, not only on Wesak day but everyday. If you are from another religion, then follow the practice based on your own religion.

Just start with 10 or 15 minutes- set aside a fixed time in a day where you would do your own practice and make it a non negotiable. With time, your heart would experience the peace, calm and protection and you would naturally (without needing to force yourself) extend the practice of the duration.

Many people do not practice because they do not see the benefit. But trust me, if you set aside time sincerely to do your practice, it would come to you when the time you need it the most. I have seen this time and time again with myself, my family and with others who set aside time for spiritual practice (including from other religions).

How I got started off with my own practice

I was brought into Buddhist practice because I was inspired by my mother. Another reason is because I ran into some ‘supernatural’ issues and getting external help does not work so I had to resort to helping myself (but that’s for another article).

10 years before her cancer diagnosis, she suddenly had the urge to practice chanting. She picked up the Guan Yin chant booklet and learned the White Robe Guan Yin chant and Tai Bei Zhou by heart. That time she was commuting to work using the minibus (remember the pink minibuses in KL) and she would use the commuting time to memorise a few lines each day. Already she had to get up early to cook for us before going to work but she made herself get up even earlier to chant.

At the beginning, she said it was tough when she wanted to start to chant. She felt so sleepy and it was as if there was a gravitational pull that wanted to pull her downwards on the floor to sleep. But she persevered and after about 2 weeks, the feeling was totally gone. It was replaced by alertness which lasted over 20 years of her daily chanting. When I was younger, I did not understand why she devoted time to practice and asked her if she ever get bored by it?

She asked, well, we all got to breathe right? The daily practice is necessary to me like breathing is to person.

When I went to university, I picked up Theravadian Pali chanting. I shared the Pali chants with her and she liked it, and then she memorized more of these chants. She also chanted throughout the day when she was doing her chores.

Over the years, my mom had many illnesses. Started with tonsil cancer which the prognosis then was poor. She had a massive neck surgery to remove the tonsil and the surgery lasted 10 hours due to complication. This was followed by 36 doses of radiotherapy that had horrible long term side effects. Later she had glaucoma, then liver cirrhosis (from hepatitis B). The liver cirrhosis was what that made me resigned from my corporate job 5 years ago to be her full time caregiver. Now, she has Alzheimer’s and is on end stage and have been placed on tube feeding.

You may wonder why despite spiritual practice my mom still had to suffer so many illnesses. You might feel discouraged if you see incidents like the bad prosper while the good suffer. Last time I also had the same thought. However, with time through experience, I have come to realize a lot of things.

Everyone of us have our own kamma from deeds we have done in the past that has to be repaid and ripen. If we do not see the retribution it does not mean it would not happen. Some people had done a lot of good deeds in their past life so this life they enjoy the benefits of richness, fame, etc. But if they are just using and using, then fall into immoral way of life, eventually the goodness will get diminished and the bad effects would start to ripen.

Due to the poor background my mom came from, she had bred livestock and slaughtered them from young. Even though she stopped doing it after my grandaunt passed away (when I was 9 years old), what is done cannot be undone.  When she had the tonsil cancer and the doctors had to make a cut across her neck, the scars reminded me of the way of the cuts she made to the livestocks.

The same time when my mom got tonsil cancer, my dad got stroke. My mom survived the cancer but my dad passed from the stroke. I believe it was a ripening of a joint kammic act they have done. The difference between my mom and my dad was spiritual practice. My late dad did not believe in spiritual practice.

Also, my mom came from a family history where one by one of her sisters get illnesses and pass away from it. Within 5 years of her tonsil cancer, my mom lost 3 of her closest sisters to various illnesses (dementia, stroke, cancer).  There were also a few times my mom was in life threatening danger but miraculously survived. For example, she was crossing a very busy road in KL (she snuck out while I was at work) and could not cross fast enough before the traffic lights turn green. A motorbike grazed her and she fell. The cars were coming quickly at her and a Malay man saw her, risked his life by quickly running to the middle of the road to scoop her up to safety.

While material things are something that we can acquire and lose anytime, our spiritual practice is truly our own. It truly belongs to us and it is something we can take away with us from this life. Even though now my mom has Alzheimer’s and could no recognize me, let alone remember any of the chants, her demeanor is very different from most Alzheimer’s patients. She was not aggressive, moody, have a lot of pain or hallucinate a lot.

Instead, the illness wiped out all the bitterness, protective shields and mechanisms that she had build in her life as the result of a childhood of hunger and physical abuse, a life of being bullied at work, betrayed and let down. The illnesses had regressed her mind back to pure innocence, contentment and happiness of how a baby would behave when well cared for before the ugliness of the world come in to corrode the mind. Hence, it is not a bad thing and caring for her has been a joy to me.

That is why I urge you to practice based on the tenants of your own faith and religion which you feel most comfortable with. At the core of every religion, it teaches us to be good. Start your own spiritual practice and maintain it every day, do not become something like a “Wesak Day” Buddhist.

Here are some articles related to Buddhism. I have started a new blog (https://spiritual.yinteing.com/)which I would write more of such articles.

 

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