Tomorrow is Vesak Day 2556! Yes, you didn’t read it wrong. It is 2556 years since the Buddha’s final passing into Mahaparinibbana (Sanskrit: Mahaparinirvana) and 2601 years since his Enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree.
Buddhists around the world celebrate the Birth, Enlightenment and Mahaparinibbana of the Buddha around this period. Some countries such as Japan has evolved into a flower festival, said to have developed over time with the offering of flowers to Buddha in Buddhist monasteries and later developed into the former.
While commonly seen as a Buddhist celebration, it is significant to all people, all sentient beings. The celebration marks the conquering of our common human state of unknowing, of delusion, of ignorance, of worry, of anxiety, of stress, of suffering. Of transcending the extremes of sensual pleasure and extreme ascetism. Of going beyond words and petty differences, and seeing how things truly are. Of fulfilling the maxim of human potential, Nirvana, Arahanthood, Buddhahood!
This potential is in each and everyone of us, whether we believe or subscribe to it or not. That despite our faults and flaws, we can cultivate wholesome mental habits and attain to Perfection. That while we look so different, speak different languages, think and act so differently, we share the common human experience of wanting happiness. And if we start cultivating in ourselves love (metta 慈), compassion (悲) and wisdom (智), we can slowly but surely overcome the defilements of greed, hatred and delusion.
We can and we should strive towards this goal. For this is our birthright as sentient beings. For all sentient beings have Buddha Nature, the potential to become a Buddha, to be free from defilements, free from Cravings and Attachments, free from Suffering.