Thursday, 30 July 2015

Asanha Puja or Asarnha Bucha

Today is Asanha Puja or Asarnha Bucha day (อาสาฬหบูชา) all around Thailand. This is a Theravada Buddhist festival which typically takes place in July, on the full moon of the eighth lunar month. On this occasion Buddha’s first sermon in which he set out to his five former associates the doctrine that had come to him following his enlightenment in the Deer Park in Benares and the founding of the Buddhist sangha is celebrated.

Asanha Puja or Asarnha Bucha

This first pivotal sermon, often referred to as “setting into motion the wheel of dharma,” is the teaching which is encapsulated for Buddhists in the four noble truths: there is suffering (dukkha); suffering is caused by craving (tanha); there is a state (nirvana) beyond suffering and craving; and finally, the way to nirvana is via the eightfold path. All the various schools and traditions of Buddhism revolve around the central doctrine of the four noble truths.

This first sermon is not only the first structured discourse given by the Buddha after his enlightenment, it also contains the essence of all his subsequent teaching. At the end of the talk, one of the five participants recounted his understanding of what had been said and asked to be received as a disciple, a request the Buddha granted, thus establishing the first order of monks.

Tomorrow is Wan Khao Phansa (วันเข้าพรรษา) or the Buddhist Lent Day, when the monks remain in one place, typically in a temple for a long period of time.

Tonight there will be the walk around the Bot of the various Temples in Thailand, at 7pm, something well worth checking when local people walk three times around the Bot in a temple.

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