Beliefnet
Mindfulness Matters

I wonder what the Buddha would think about all this fuss about his birthday or celebrating his enlightenment. He might just say — work on your own enlightenment!

Of course, rituals can be a beneficial part of practice, but I doubt the Buddha would have been comfortable with this sort of attention. Still, people all around the world are celebrating this day.

And, after all, why not? Everyone loves a good party and I’m sure the Buddha attended his fair share back in the day. “Really?” you are thinking. The Buddha and his monastic followers did not own property and were not gainfully employed. The relied on the generosity of common people and kings for food and shelter.

They accepted and ate whatever was given to them, as long as it was not killed for them. So, I imagine when the Buddha hung out with his childhood friend King Pasenadi, a good party was thrown. I imagine that the Awakened One was enjoying the party from a different perspective — bemused, entertained, and not clinging to any of it. So, perhaps he wouldn’t cling to the celebrations occurring today around the world; a celebration that has been taking place for a long time.

Still and again, I doubt he would find this sort of pageantry to his liking. Remember, the Buddha was “Buddha” (awake) not a Buddhist. To learn more about the difference between Buddha and Buddhism and the all the different forms of Buddhism including their holidays, celebrations, and influence on the world at large, check out my book, The Everything Buddhism Book.

Check out the Vesak Day gala in Vietnam (not without controversy, of course)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6kK2MKHTXo&feature=fvsr