Buddha Poornima 2013  Speach  by Bro. Dhammika Kalapuge

 

My humble pranams at the lotus feet of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

Dear Sai Brothers and Sisters, Sai Ram!

I am indeed honored to stand before you now and extend my attitude of gratitude to our beloved Swami for giving this opportunity to address you all the devoteesgathered here at this Buddha Poornima celebration in 2013.

In fact, this is a dream I saw some time back becoming, a reality today. In one of my dreams, I witnessed myself doing a similar presentation in the presence of our beloved Swami.  Although Swami, Your physical presence is not visible at this very moment of time, you are very much present amongst us today, in Your Holy Spirit.You are omnipresent and omnipotent. This, I am sure is being felt by all these devotees who are gathered here,for this occasion of Buddha Poornima celebration 2013.

Today is the full moon day of the month of Vesak. This day is of paramount importance to about half a billion persons who follow the teaching of Lord Buddha, living on this planet. This Day happens to be the day of commemorative importance of three significant events connected with the life of Lord Buddha, namely, His birth, His Enlightenment and His demise or the Parinirvana.

Lord Buddha lived on this planet 2600 years ago. Even prior to His birth there had been some accepted rules or precepts, practiced by the mankind for them to survive as disciplined human beings.They became a way of life. Those rules were highly acceptable to the society as they possessed the qualities essential for the right conduct and wellbeing of the mankind. 

The Lord Buddha gave a further meaning to those rules by putting them in to a more practicable way by the introduction of five simple precepts that can be easily followed by anyone who desires to do so. The Lord Buddha said that never be an extremist. Be guided by the Middle path. Buddha explained the Middle path saying that “If the strings of a musical instrument are set too tight, then the instrument will not play harmoniously. If the strings are set too loose, the instrument will not produce music. Only the Middle Way, not too tight and not too loose, will produce harmonious music”. One of the basic practices of the Buddhist all over the world is to follow these five precepts, in their day to day life.They are namely;


1.   Panathipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami;

‘I undertake the rule of training to refrain from harming living things.’ This shows the importance of ‘life’. As life is valuable to all, no one has the right to destroy another’s life.

Swami says that in every living being there is Sai in it. Therefore, extend loving kindness to all beings. Kindness is the essential attribute of mankind. One should develop kindness towards all. Only then one can rise to the level of Divinity.  Do not hurt any-one with words or deeds. This is called ‘Ahimsa’. Swami referred to Buddha’s saying that non-violence is the greatest Dharma. The observance of non-violence has been described as the highest form of Dharma. All the violence in world today, is owing to the fact that people do not lead the lives. Love will be fostered only when non-violence is practiced. When love is practiced, there will be peace in the world.


2.   Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami;

‘I undertake the rule of training to refrain from taking what is not given.’ This shows the importance given to the ownership of inanimate objects.

Swami says in under any circumstances and on any compulsion, one should not rob another’s property.

3.   Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

‘I undertake the rule of training to refrain from misuse of the senses.’ It involves in advising us to refrain from the misuse of all the five senses. In this precept, the word ‘micchacara’ has to be correctly understood. The Buddhist is not asked to abstain from eating the food he likes, or satisfying his eye or ears with works of art or music. He is not asked to abstain totally from other sensual desires as well. Only wrongful enjoyment is decried upon.

Swami says watch your actions and character at all times. The right conduct that befits the duties and obligations of a person’s position whatever it may be. Our conduct, our actions, all what you see, hear and  consume by way of liquid or solid – all these should be regarded as offering to Divine.

4.   Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

‘I undertake the rule of training to refrain from uttering lies – wrong speech.’ It shows the importance of being honest.

Swami says watch your words at all times, in truth there is only one. The entire world has originated from truth, is sustained by truth and ultimately merges into truth. There is no place without the principle of truth. Truth is challenge-less in all the three phases of time, i.e., past, present and future. Everything may disappear. But truth remains forever.  There is a saying that “if one tells the truth you need not remember anything.”

5.   Surameraya majjapamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

‘I undertake the rule of training to refrain from taking drugs or intoxicating drinks which tend to cloud the mind.’ It shows the importance of having a clear mind which tends to conduct the mind which is very essential for spiritual development.

Swami says to God-intoxicated man, the worldly appear insane, foolish, misled and blind.

Swami summarised all these saying that “Love is God, God is Love. Love more and more people.Transform love into Service, into Worship; that is the highest spiritual practice.” This basic teaching can be said in eight words, as follows: “Love all, serve all, help ever and hurt never.”

The Lord Buddha explained: “How one could make Dhamma one’s own island of refuge? He said it is through the cultivation of mindfulness or awareness of the body, sensations, mind and mind-objects, one can assimilate Dharma.  The Lord Buddha says ‘Mano pubbangama dhamma – mano settha manomaya, manasa ca padutthena – bhasati va karoti va’. This means all mental natures are mind marshaled. Mind is their chief and they are mind made.Swami explains Dharma, as any act that is done with purity in thoughts, words and deeds. The whole universe is bound by it.

All the spiritual leaders who came to this world had been telling us to do something very basic which is to practice common sense “be good do good serve the mankind the best manner you could”. Lord Buddha said that human life is highly valuable. Keep its value by practicing human values.

In this context; I have already explained the five precepts which I devotedly practiceas a habit. All these are things which can be done with common sense. Unfortunately, practicing common sense had become so uncommon in the world today. This had been the case right through the human history.

There was a Chinese philosopher called Confucius 2600 years ago living during the same time period of Lord Buddha. Confucius said that “the existence of the world to a greater extent would depend on the application of common sense. However, right throughout the existence of the world,common sense would be the most uncommon thing to be found on the earth”.That is why our avatar Bhagawan had to come in human form to show the mankind the right path and to remind us of the teaching of our own particular religions.

These five precepts, of the ‘Buddhist Way of Life’are universally acceptable and applicable to every person of any religion.Because it contains nothing that any religion could possibly object to, or take offence with. Practice of these five precepts would help the entire humanity to avoid most of the man-made problems in the world today. Hence, Swami’s mission too has been to reawaken the world to establish ‘love and peace’ so as to unite all mankind towards enlightenment and rejuvenation of humankindness.

Swami’s teachings are universal to all religions.In Swami’s own words he has said that: “I have come not to disturb or destroy any faith, but to confirm each in his own faith, so that a Buddhist can become a better Buddhist, a Hindu a better Hindu, a Christian could become a better Christian and the Muslim a better Muslim.”

Lord Buddha says ‘Dhammo hawe rakkathi dhamma charin’ to mean that those who are in Dhamma will be protected by Dhamma itself. Our beloved Swami says “when you keep one step towards me I will in return keep ten steps towards you”. This again is a clear endorsement to say that Swami will help you to go to the roots of our own faith.

In this forum I wish to place my own personal experience as to how Swami helped me to follow the five precepts which was the first basic learning I had from my religion, Buddhism.

Since 1982, my faith in Bhagavan has shown and guided me through a path to make me a faithfully practicing Buddhist. This has helped me to follow the five precepts with a lot of conscious effort and to be in the correct path with a right conduct. To name one single instance, I may mention that, from the time I steppedin to Puttarparthi in October 1990, for the first time, I immediately decided to be a vegetarian, a practice subsequently followed by all my family members. This experience of mine clearly indicates that myfaith in Swami has made me a better Buddhist than ever before.

Furthermore, his teaching helped me to earn my living in the most gratifying manner to date.Today I am a trainer in service quality enhancement, doing lectures both for public and private sector entities. I had to make a crucial decision in my career in 2001. I was dilly dallying to decide on the  option of  leaving a steady pensionable Vice Presidential job in a Bank and embark upon something  entirely new on my own strength – ‘the vocation of teaching’- a profession, in which I felt I could passionately contribute more value to the potential skills development of mankind.

During this time, while in my sleep one night Swami appeared in a dream and tapped on my back and said “go ahead with your decision of starting something on your own. I will guide and look after you”. Since then despite al lthe calamities and economic crisis that took place in the world, Swami was with me in my vocation helping and guiding me to earn my living.

Since I got married, my wife, who was not a devotee at that time, soon began to follow the teachings of Swami and silently got involved with many seva activities. As Swami says marriage is bringing the unity of two into one. My wife’s faith in Swami soon became unshakable. As a result we became a very happy wedded couple moving from strength to strength with a feeling that Swami is in and around us in our all endeavors.Fulfilling bare necessities and doing away with greed wherever possible is something which both of us together tried to practice always.

Being truthful to ourselves and thereby being honest to the society had always given me a restful comfortable sleep in the night. Human beings by nature are tempted to utter lies at sometimes for their own advantage. The basic test of feeling, that I assumed at every moment, is that Swami is beside me always and that He over hears what I say and do. Swami says succeed in all tests. Then you will become tasty for Bhagawan.

There is a myth in the corporate world that dining and wining is something one needs to do often to develop networking and social relationships. It is an accepted fact that alcoholic drinks are severely harmful to the body and spirituality. As Swami says Curry, Worry and Hurry make people sick. Nobody has a right to force another to consume such harmful drinks or food. I have successfully established my contacts in the corporate community gatherings by holding a glass of ginger beer in the hand instead of a mug of beer. Similarly the stress we go through on a daily basis could easily be overcome by either singing or listening to bhajans.

In refection I realise, following Swami’s teaching truly had helped me to be a better practicing Buddhist.

Swami’s endeavor was to make the teachings of all spiritual leaders’ universal. He proclaims: “Let the different faiths exist. If each person lives the ideals propounded by the founders of their own religion, unaffected by greed or hate, then this planet will be a happy and a peaceful habitation for the mankind.

Today we are gathered here, from all over world,to fulfill ourselves with a lot of bliss in this auspicious day of vesak. Practicing the learning we had from our own religions with the guidance we receive from Swami is something we should eternally believe in.

At this moment of time pondering our minds with questions such as whether Swami is still present amongst us, just in the same manner as he was living or, again and again questioning why is that Swami had a Samadhi so soon, are not worthy of any more botheration for ourselves.

The annual celebration of Buddha Poornima is an occasion for all of us to be conscious of the religious practices and remind us of their values. As it says ‘celebrations are reminders’. Therefore, let us question ourselves today to what extent truly did we practice the Swami’s teaching from the day we got closer to Him. Similarly, to what extent did we get closer to our own religion with the guidance of Swami? What transformation did we bring about toour own lives after becoming a devotee of Swami?

Lord Buddha says ‘Appamado amatapadamPamado maccuno padam’; It means never ever be late to follow the teachings of Dhamma. So let us pass a resolution in our minds today. At this very moment of time, so as to go back and think of at least, one single precept of learning we had from Buddhism but have failed to practice so far. Take an initiative individually and make a beginning today to practice at least one simple single precept, in memory of Swami and Buddha Poornima of 2013. Collectively, when we put right things into practice across all over the world, this earth will be a beautiful place for all of us to live in peace and harmony.