Shakayumni Buddha was born from Lady Maya's body under the Bodhi tree on Lumbini grove. As soon as he was born, the Buddha took seven steps in the four directions - north, east, south, west - and then, pointing one hand upwards towards the sky and the other pointing downwards towards the ground, he exclaimed: "Whether above the sky or below the sky, I am most noble and high. I am here to bring peace to all the sentient beings in the world who are suffering."
This declaration by the Buddha is a vow to one day deliver all blind, sentient beings who are lost in the sea of suffering from their misery by providing them with the way to live life in peace and without entanglements.
The Buddha began to carry out this promise when he renounced his position as the Crown Prince, attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya after 6 years of ascetism, and then gave his very first teaching of the Dharma to 5 bhikkus at (nokyawon).
For 45 years thereafter, the Buddha travelled all over India and guided all beings to a right path of living life. The Buddha descended to the sentient (sabha) world to benefit and comfort the people, to deliver sentient beings from their suffering.
The Buddha was born on the top of a hill on a roadside, not amidst the luxuries of the royal palace and court. The birth of this teacher of ours, who was born on the path, lived on the path, and passed away on the path, in essence is an expression of His never-ending love and compassion for all beings.
In celebrating Buddha's birthday, 20 million Buddhists will pay their respects to the Buddha. We must also remember on this special occasion, however, to vow to find our "true Self" and to practice with the same impelling spirit as Buddha had in wanting to save all sentient beings.
We must have the wisdom to help all those who are suffering in accordance with the needs of this day and age as the Buddha did in prescribing medcine according to the nature of the person's sickness.
The other side to the material abundance that society enjoys today, is a society which is not able to find its own rightful place as one can be seen by the wide gap separating the rich and the poor, the mental confusion and the division which separates Korea.
In place like Bosnia and Ethiopia, many people are dying of starvation due to the civil wars.
The conflicts between the different religions are resulting in the deaths of precious lives. This is also one of the major problems of this age that Buddhists must find a solution for.
Let us be strong inour intent in practising what the Buddha taught to all those sentient beings to lead them on the path of enlightenment.
Let us strive together to make Buddha's birthday a day to search for our true selves by practising the way of the Bodhisattva.
Update : 01-05-2002