This is the 37th entry from my fieldwork diary. The original date is 29.10.2010.
Lhabab Düchen is one of the four festivals commemorating four events in the life of the Buddha, according to Tibetan traditions. Lhabab Düchen occurs on the 22nd day of the ninth month on a Tibetan calendar.
This is a Buddhist festival celebrated to observe the descent of Buddha from heaven back to earth. Buddha had left for heaven at the age of 41, having ascended to The Heaven of Thirty-Three (Trayastrimsa) in order to give teachings to benefit the gods in the desire realms and to repay the kindness of his mother by liberating her from Samsara. He was exhorted by his follower and representative Maugalyayana to return, and after a long debate managed to return. This is considered to be one of the eight great deeds of the Buddha. He returned to earth by a special triple ladder prepared by Viswakarma, the god of machines. On Lhabab Duchen, the effects of positive or negative actions are multiplied ten million times. It is part of Tibetan Buddhist tradition to engage in virtuous activities and prayer on this day.
"Today is a special day for Buddha Shakyamuni. He had promised that if he reached enlightenment he'd benefit the human realm by being reborn here. He had also decided to spread the dharma to the sentient beings in all the 6 realms of existence.
The beings in the realm of gods needed to receive Buddha's teachings so he left the human world and entered another realm.
Before he reincarnated on earth he was looking for good parents and a home. He chose the best mother, dissolved into pure light and was born in the biggest town of Shakya lineage. Buddha's mother was like Tara, her name was Maya and she was the most compassionate and the kindest wife of the king. The king had many wives but she was the only one who had a special dream of Buddha Shakyamuni going into her womb. On the next day, she discovered that she was pregnant and was very joyful. The Shakya family was one of the best families in India at that time. Shakyamuni was the 4th Buddha. There's a prophecy that a new one will come someday.
Maya gave birth to the baby and after one week she passed away. So Buddha had many stepmothers during his childhood and early adulthood.
We're going to celebrate Buddha's return from the pure land today. His teachings are very powerful. When we listen to his teachings we need to do so carefully.
Before he gave us these teachings he prayed for a very long time and practiced mudras.
So today we're offering butter lamps, flowers and food to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha (it's important to understand the meaning of the 3 Jewels).
Dharma - the teachings of all the buddhas that have ever existed.
Sangha - when we practice the dharma and meditate we become the Sangha. But if you have negative thoughts then it's not a Sangha.
The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha helps us to become enlightened. We need to accumulate good merit. How and where can we find this? It comes from our own compassion and practices that make us more loving and kind, when we truly wish that others can be happy - then all the negativity dissipates in our minds and Buddha-nature can emerge from our compassion. Good virtues and good merit can help relieve other people from suffering.
Buddha gave thousands of teachings on how to develop love and compassion. We suffer when we don't share this love and compassion.
There exist many translations of Buddha's teachings in many different countries. Tibetans translated those texts much later but their work was more profound because they translated all of his teachings. Tibetan Buddhism is very deep. Every village and town has monasteries.
The 6 Paramitas of Buddha:
1. How we can be generous towards other people.
2. How to keep the samayas.
3. How to be patient with our own mind.
4. How to practice with effort.
5. How to analyze (samadhi meditation) and how to attain buddhahood.
6. Sherab (wisdom).
When we meditate and study texts with deep concentration the mind becomes clear."
After his speech we did the butter lamp practice and sang the Buddha Shakyamuni mantra:
MUNI MUNI MAHA MUNI
There was a table with food offerings to Buddha Shakyamuni, and lots of lit candles and butter lamps. Everyone took something from the table, and then we all sat, ate food and drank tea.
I, being the newbie that I am, did not realize that you had to leave at least one piece of food or offering left on the plate. I only discovered this after we had all eaten. A little mistake there on my part. :)
I could not help but wonder afterwards whether Buddha Shakyamuni really was present or not on this holiday. But it felt special, in a way, to think of the possibility that he might actually still exist somewhere, and that our thoughts and actions become multiplied ten million times. So I tried to be more mindful. But the truth is that we should always be mindful in every action and thought, not just for one day, right?
*Important side note: These diary entries do not reflect every word the teacher said, and there may be some mistakes or misunderstandings, for which I am sorry and accept responsibility. In a few instances, I have interjected my own interpretation or explanation.