February - March: Tibetan New Year:
Tibetan New Year (Losar) Celebration photos at the Land of Medicine Buddha in Santa Cruz.
March: Buddha Showed His Miracles
(Cho-trul Duchen): "Day of Miracles by Buddha: - the first fifteen days of the first Tibetan month celebrate the days on which Lord Buddha performed many miracles, with the 15th being the Day of Miracles; the Great Prayer Festival (Mönlam Chenmo) takes place over the course of these days.
May-June: Month of Buddha Shakyamuni's Birth
SAKA DAWA (the Full Moon Day)
Generally, there are four or eight deeds of Buddha Shakyamuni were considered of special significance; they are remembered with celebration all over the world. Saka Dawa-forth month according to Tibetan calendar- is the month remembered as the one in which the Buddha Shakyamuni displayed the deeds of birth, enlightenment, and Parinirvana. The Indians, Chinese and Tibetans have their own calendars to follow because of which they do not have a common month of observation. But this month of three important deeds is important for Buddhist all over the world. On this special month, all Buddhists, lay or ordained, observe it with the practice of accumulation and purification.
On this day, from generating the refuge mind and arousing the Bodhichitta as motivation, to the practice of prostration, circumambulation, liberating animals from being killed, and observing vows, all of which are complemented with dedication, people engage themselves in practice with special emphasis.
As is clear from the Buddha’s own words, to offer to the images or representations of the Buddha has the same merit as offering to the Buddha himself in person. On special occasions like Saka Dawa, the merits generated through prayers and practices are considered to multiply into millions more.
We encourage everyone to be vegetarian for the entire month of Saka Dawa regardless of whether Eight Mahayana Precepts vows have been taken or not.
During this month practitioners place special emphasis on Dharma practice like Nyung-Ney fasting retreat, circumambulation of monasteries and stupas, prostrations, taking precepts, reciting mantras, water bowl offering and saving animals lives, etc. All the merits of virtuous actions done on this day are multiplied 100,000 times.
Gyuto Vajrayana Center will be holding a special puja. We encourage all members and friends join this special puja. Members welcome to bring water, flowers, candles, and fruits for offering.
July 6th: His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Birthday
Firstly, on the level of a human being, His Holiness’ first commitment is the promotion of human values such as compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment and self-discipline. All human beings are the same. We all want happiness and do not want suffering. Even people who do not believe in religion recognize the importance of these human values in making their life happier. His Holiness refers to these human values as secular ethics. He remains committed to talk about the importance of these human values and share them with everyone he meets.
Secondly, on the level of a religious practitioner, His Holiness’ second commitment is the promotion of religious harmony and understanding among the world’s major religious traditions. Despite philosophical differences, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings. It is therefore important for all religious traditions to respect one another and recognize the value of each other’s respective traditions. As far as one truth, one religion is concerned, this is relevant on an individual level. However, for the community at large, several truths, several religions are necessary.
Thirdly, His Holiness is a Tibetan and carries the name of the ‘Dalai Lama’. Tibetans place their trust in him. Therefore, his third commitment is to the Tibetan issue. His Holiness’ has a responsibility to act as the free spokesperson of the Tibetans in their struggle for justice. As far as this third commitment is concerned, it will cease to exist once a mutually beneficial solution is reached between the Tibetans and Chinese. More about His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
July: First Turning the Wheel of Dharma
Chokhor Duchen commemorates the Buddha’s first sermon and the teaching of the Four Noble Truths.
(Cho-khor Düchen): the 4th day of the 6th month, the "First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma" (first teaching) is celebrated. For the first seven weeks after his Enlightenment, Buddha did not teach. Encouraged by Indra and Brahma, he then gave his first teachings at Sarnath on the Four Noble Truths.
On this day, Tibetan Buddhists make pilgrimages to holy places, offering incense and hanging prayer flags.
November: Buddha Shakkyamuni Descent from Tushita Heaven
(Lha-Bab Duchen): Buddha Shakyamuni's descent from Tushita Heaven. This celebrates the anniversary of the Buddha’s descent from the heavenly realm to earth. Buddha Shakyamuni ascended to The Heaven of Thirty-Three in order to give teachings to benefit the gods in the desire realms and to repay the kindness of his mother by liberating her from Samsara. This is considered to be one of the great deeds of the Buddha among eight great deeds. On Lha-bab Duchen, the effects of positive or negative actions are multiplied ten million times. It is part of Tibetan Buddhist tradition to engage in virtuous activities and prayer on this day.
December: Anniversary of Lama Tsongkhapa
Lama Tsongkhapa's passing day The Anniversary of Lama Je Tsong-khapa, 1357 - 1419 AD, is celebrated on the 25th day in the tenth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar. In remembrance of Lama Tsongkhapa, Venerable monks of Gyuto Center will be performing the Guru puja (Tsog Offering).
Lama Tsong-khapa (Je Rinpoche), The precious Lord), was one of the most famous and holy of the Tibetan masters who successfully integrated into his life his knowledge of the Buddha’s teachings, and his accomplishment of true spiritual insight or realization. As the founder of the Gelug-pa order of Tibetan Buddhism, Tsongkhapa’s presence was not only of great service in the preservation of the dharma, but also in thoroughly refining the teachings. To this day, his life and work profoundly inspire millions of people around the world. Je Tsongkhapa founded Ganden Monastery – one of the greatest monasteries in Tibet – and his popular Gelugpa tradition gave rise to many others following in this same order (such as is studied and practiced at Drepung, Sera, Gaden and Gyuto and Gyudme Tantric monasteries.
Lama Tsongkhapa, the founder of Geluk School of Tibetan Buddhism, -who was considered to be an emanation of Manjushri- passed away on the 25th day of Tenth Tibetan month in the year 1419. Jamchen Choeje Yeshi, one of the main disciples of Tsongkhapa, who founded Sera Monastery, passed away on the 24th day of the same month in the year 1443.
To practice purification, accumulation and making special aspirational prayers on these special occasions are said by the past masters to have stronger energy in purifying our bad karmas, reviving broken commitments and accumulating vast amount of merits.
Mönlam Chenmo (Tibetan: 'Great Prayer') is the most important Tibetan Buddhist celebration of the year, held annually as part of the New Year festivities. The Great Prayer Festival was established by Lama Tsongkhapa in 1409, when the first Great Prayer Festival was held in Lhasa. Lama Tsongkhapa invited all the people of Tibet to a two-week-long festival of prayer, auspicious rituals, teachings, and celebrations from the first new moon until the full moon of the lunar New Year. Many hundreds of thousands, perhaps more than one million, people came from near and far. This first full moon of the year is celebrated in the Vajrayana tradition as the Day of Miracles (Tibetan: 'Chotrul Duchen') to commemorate the final day of miraculous display by the Buddha which lasted 15 days.
That time of the year was chosen because Lama Tsongkhapa firmly believed in the life story of the founder Guru Shakyamuni Buddha told in the Indian Buddhist Sutra of the Wise and the Foolish called 'Overcoming the Six Teachers':
"Buddha was challenged by six rival teachers to a contest of miraculous performances. For many years, Buddha evaded their challenges, letting people believe that he was afraid of their magical powers, losing his royal patrons, and causing doubts and worries to grow among the people.
Finally, in the city of Shravasti, Buddha accepted the challenge and stood before a huge assembly of people from the entire central north Indian area. He proceeded to perform miracle after miracle during the first fortnight of the lunar New Year. The rival teachers were eclipsed almost immediately, as Buddha produced spectacular manifestations. He threw down a toothpick and grew a giant wish-granting gem tree. He rinsed his mouth with scented water, and celestial lakes with divine ducks and jewel lotuses appeared. He concentrated and emitted rays of light, and hosts of Buddhas, bodhisattvas and gods filled the skies.
Teachings of liberation and awakening, reverberating in every language known to man, illumined the minds of all assembled. He even manifested a vision of himself multiplying infinitely, his compassionate energy becoming clearly present to everyone's awareness."
It is said that during that first Great Prayer Festival in 1409, all the people who gathered in Lhasa had visions of Buddhas and divine beings filling the sky. Everyone got into their most religious mood and spent the whole time as if on a spiritual retreat, praying, studying, making offerings, teaching, learning, and debating meaningful philosophical topics.
This noble tradition is preserved and is practiced in the same way to this day in most of the Gelug monasteries. On the full moon, the Day of Miracles is the most special day of the Festival where thousands of people, lay and ordained alike, come to pray, view the big butter sculptures, and make offerings to the Sangha.
The main purpose of the Great Prayer Festival is to pray for the long life of all the holy Gurus of all traditions, for the survival and spreading of the Dharma in the minds of all sentient beings, and for world peace. The communal prayers, offered with strong faith and devotion, help to overcome obstacles to peace and generate conducive conditions for everyone to live in harmony.
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