This month is called Saka Dawa and is the fourth Tibetan Month, which this year begins on May 29th and ends on June 27th. The most important day of this period is the full moon of the month, which occurs on June 13. This day commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana of the Buddha.
“Dawa” (ཟླ་བ) is the Tibetan word for moon, or month, and saga (ས་ག) is the name of a star which in the vedic system is called Vishaka, which is the sixteenth of the twenty-eight stars that govern the classical Indian zodiac. Western astronomy has named it α Librae.
The karma one accumulates this month is multiplied, in some cases up to one hundred million times, so it is important to bring great care and intention to one’s actions during this period, maximizing one’s practice of virtue. There are many good things that one can do during this month to accumulate merit, and especially on the full moon day one should strive to be as attentive to the virtuous use of one’s body, speech, and mind as possible. Some examples include:
· Refraining from eating meat, fish, or eggs
· Making donations to monasteries, dharma centers, and monastic and lay
· Doing dharma practice such as aspiration prayers, mantra, and
circumambulation of stupas and sacred sites.
· Offering food and money to the poor
· Lighting butter lamps
· Releasing fish or other animals that would otherwise be killed (at bait
shops for example)
· Taking Sojong Vows
Milarepa Dzong will begin Saka Dawa with a Chenrezig retreat, and sangha members are encouraged to continue this practice throughout the month and recite as many Om Mani Peme Hung mantras as possible. Kagyü Thubten Chöling Monastery is also initiating a Mani mantra accumulation for the long life of Lama Norlha Rinpoche, and you can join in by recording your mantra accumulation numbers on the KTC Million Mani Log.
For much of the month I will be participating in the Gyalwa Gyamtso Drupcho at the men's three-year retreat at KTC. This is also a Chenrezig practice, and the two weeks of group chanting and ritual will conclude three months of practice that they have been doing on their own. At the same time the rest of KTC Monastery will be doing eight sets of nyungnes, a fasting practice based on the mandala of the thousand-armed form of Chenrezig.
Following this, Mariana and I plan to do a nine-day vision fast program at Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center where we hope to connect with the natural environment of the Smoky Mountain region and learn sustainable ways of building and farming that we hope to integrate into our vision for Milarepa Dzong.
However you plan to spend this month, please join the KTC and MOCD sangha in accumulating merit for the benefit of all sentient beings.
Yours in the Dharma,
P.S. Comments and questions are welcome, please come back next week for a new post.