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“Many young lives have left us due to our faults and negligence.
Let us pray for their eternal happiness and peace by illuminating these lanterns – Pray for their safe return and rebirth in the Western Paradise.”
Commemorating Buddha’s 2558th Birthday
His Eminence Jinje, Supreme Patriarch of the Jogye Order
As he walked seven steps upon leaving the womb of the Queen Maya,
Compassionate light filled the heaven and earth.
With one hand pointing to the heaven and the other to earth,
Buddha spoke, “In heaven and on earth, I alone am foremost.”
Indeed you were foremost and precious alone.
Even if it were so, please look down beneath your feet.
Venerable members of the monastic and lay sangha!
Buddha’s Birthday is a day of joy.
It was the day when the eternally auspicious light was illuminated for the first time onto this world of suffering, which had been filled with the darkness of ignorance.
Buddha’s Birthday is a sacred day.
From the realm of truth and nirvana, Sakyamuni Buddha came to this world and manifested as a human being to give us a correct path to everlasting freedom and unsurpassable happiness.
Having attained Buddhahood already, Sakyamuni Buddha transcended birth and death. Then why did he particularly don the clothes of sentient beings, demonstrating birth and death, and walking the path to Buddhahood all over again?
It was because he wanted to show us that all Buddhas of the past, present and future attain liberation from birth and death, through sincere faith, by relying on the physical body of sentient beings.
The Buddha was born a prince and then left the secular world to demonstrate that things of this world, including the highest wealth and honor, were like mere bubbles and droplets of dew. Nothing is more urgent and precious than to penetrate birth, aging, illness and death, and ultimately find one’s original self.
The Buddha performed all kinds of asceticism and meditative practices, but then transcended them all and attained the Great Way, just to demonstrate that the Great Way of truth does not prescribe different skillful means based on individual capacity and that one can reach the realm of the Buddha without taking a single step.
Then, how can we reach the realm of the Buddha without taking a single step?
This is Seon (Zen) meditation. In our daily lives we continuously investigate the hwadu of
“What was your true self before you were born of your parents?” with earnest doubt arising from the depths of our heart. We must return to this hwadu a thousand times and ten thousand times a day so that this doubt on the hwadu can be sustained without any disruption. When we dwell in this earnest doubt on the hwadu, and this single thought or doubt flows like flowing water, suddenly we become blind to sights and deaf to sounds. In this state passes a month, a year, and then suddenly, upon a moment of seeing an object or hearing a sound, the hwadu shatters and we penetrate our true self to reach the eternal pure land of peace and bliss.
Venerable members of the monastic and lay Sangha!
There is a timely teaching suited for the modern day.
“When one person tells a false tale, countless people transmit it as the truth.”
Thus, we must contemplate carefully before hearing and passing on a word. In this way we can help make the world more clear and pure.
Now, let us all show respect and offer our condolences!
Off the coast of Jindo Island, many young lives, whom we regard as our family and our own, left us because of the mistakes and negligence of the grown-ups. I make a plea for everyone to illuminate their lanterns, praying for the children’s eternal happiness and peace, with sincere wishes for their safe return and rebirth in the Western Pure Land.”
Today, in order to celebrate the coming of the Buddha to this world and to pray that all lives lost from the Sewol Ferry disaster might enjoy the bliss of eternal truth, this mountain monk would like to illuminate a lantern of truth. I ask all members of Buddhist community and all the lost souls to keep this well in their awareness.
A handful of willow twigs cannot be collected,
The spring breeze hangs them on the jade railings
2014 Buddha’s Birthday (Buddhist Era 2558)