CELEBRATING BUDDHA’S ATTAINMENT OF ENLIGHTENMENT
April 15th marks the anniversary of Buddha Shakyamuni demonstrating the attainment of enlightenment in 589 B.C.E.
This is an extremely important day in the Buddhist calendar because our actions are much more powerful than on other days.
Today we celebrate this auspicious day with an explanation by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche and a brief excerpt from the play of the Life of Buddha.
‘Siddhartha then made his way to a place near Bodh Gaya in India, where he found a suitable site for meditation. There he remained, emphasizing a meditation called ‘space-like concentration on the Dharmakaya’, in which he focused single-pointedly on the ultimate nature of all phenomena.
After training in this meditation for six years he realized he was very close to attaining full enlightenment, and so he walked to Bodh Gaya where, on the fifteenth day of the fourth month, he seated himself beneath the Bodhi Tree in the meditation posture and vowed not to rise from meditation until he had attained perfect enlightenment. With this determination, he
entered the space-like concentration on the Dharmakaya.
As dusk fell, Devaputra Mara, the chief of all the demons, or maras, in this world, tried to disturb Siddhartha’s concentration by conjuring up many fearful apparitions. He manifested hosts of terrifying demons – some throwing spears, some firing arrows, some trying to burn him with fire, and some hurling boulders and even mountains at him. Siddhartha, however, remained completely undisturbed. Through the force of his concentration, the weapons, rocks and mountains appeared to him as a rain of fragrant flowers, and the raging fires became like offerings of rainbow light.
Seeing that Siddhartha could not be frightened into abandoning his meditation, Devaputra Mara tried instead to distract him by manifesting countless beautiful women, but Siddhartha responded by developing even deeper concentration. In this way he triumphed over all the demons of this world, which is why he subsequently became known as a ‘Conqueror Buddha’.
Siddhartha then continued with his meditation until dawn, when he attained the ‘vajra-like concentration’. With this concentration, which is the very last mind of a limited being, he removed the final veils of ignorance from his mind and in the next moment became a Buddha, a fully enlightened being.
There is nothing that Buddha does not know. Because he has woken from the sleep of ignorance and has removed all obstructions from his mind, he knows everything of the past, present and future, directly and simultaneously. Moreover, Buddha has great compassion that is completely impartial, embracing all living beings without discrimination. He benefits all living beings without exception by emanating various forms throughout the universe and by bestowing his blessings on their minds. Through receiving Buddha’s blessings, all beings, even the lowliest animals, sometimes develop peaceful and virtuous states of mind.
Eventually, through meeting an emanation of Buddha in the form of a Spiritual Guide, everyone will have the opportunity to enter the path to liberation and enlightenment. As the great Indian Buddhist scholar Nagarjuna said, there is no one who has not received help from Buddha.’
Extracted from The New Heart of Wisdom by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche