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On 9 May 2009, DDM Sydney hosted the Vesak celebration at the DDM Sydney Chan Hall at Campsie. Thirteen participants gathered together to celebrate the Birth of the Buddha.

The ceremony opened with a speech delivered by Agnes Chow, the Convenor of DDM Sydney. She briefly explained the meaning behind each action when ‘Bathing the Buddha’ and how it symbolizes the cleansing and purification of the mind.

She also explained her understanding of cleansing and purification and how it relates to the concept of 'Protecting the Spiritual Environment' propagated by late Master Sheng Yen. Only by starting with the cleansing and purification of our own minds can we hope to influence others around us.

To better express these ideas, she read aloud a selected section of the keynote speech 'Starting from the mind' which was prepared by the late Master Sheng Yen for the Second World Buddhist Forum earlier this year.

Subsequently, she shared with everyone certain teachings to help illustrate her understanding, "When the mind is in accord with the Dharma for one moment, we are a Buddha for one moment; when the mind is in accord with the Dharma moment after moment, we are a Buddha moment after moment" (Chan Master Yongming Yanshou), and "If the mind is pure, the land will be pure" (Vimalakirti Sutra).

Through this, participants were able to better understand the notion of 'Protecting the Spiritual Environment'. Following the speech, the ‘Heart Sutra’ was mindfully chanted in English and participants lit candles, which symbolizes the lighting up of wisdom within one.

One by one, they bathed the baby Buddha which was placed in a bowl, decorated beautifully with flowers, and prayed for blessings and the strength to carry on Master Sheng Yen's vow to spread to Dharma and help others.

As the following day was Mother’s Day, every mum was given a wonderful surprise of receiving a small bunch of flowers as a sign of gratitude to all mothers. The ceremony ended successfully with homemade lunch.

(written by Jessica Chow)

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