June 4 this year is SAGA DAWA DUCHEN — celebrating Shakyamuni Buddha’s Enlightenment and Paranirvana! May All Beings Benefit!

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    SAGA DAWA DUCHEN is the day in Tibetan Tradition that we celebrate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and paranirvana on the Tibetan Lunar Calendar (converted this year to June 4, 2023).

    Saga Dawa Duchen is a day of highest merits — may all beings benefit! Every positive karma activity is multiplied many times on this most sacred of days according to sacred texts.


    Buddha Shakyamuni and Lotus Buddha Weekly
    Buddha teaching.


    How important is Saga Dawa Duchen?

    Lama Zopa Rinpoche explains, on the FPMT website:

    “Saka Dawa Duchen is one of the four great holy days of the Tibetan calendar, each of which celebrates an anniversary of Shakyamuni Buddha’s display of extraordinary powerful deeds for sentient beings’ sake. On these four days, karmic results are multiplied by 100 million, as taught in the Vinaya text Treasure of Quotations and Logic.”

    NOTE: This is often confused with Vesak, which is on a separate lunar calendar. Saga Dawa celebrates on the Tibetan Lunar Calendar. For more about lunar calendars, see our full feature “Clearing the Confusion on Lunar Calendars”>>


    Most Important Day of the Year!

    The most important month in the Tibetan lunar calendar is Saga Dawa, the 4th lunar month which runs from May 20 to June 18th 2023, with the biggest celebration on the full moon, June 4, 2023. (Full moon is also a day for taking Precepts and Medicine Buddha and Green Tara pujas)

    The 15th day of this lunar month, the full moon day is called Saga Dawa Düchen (Düchen means “great occasion”) — the most important day in the Buddhist calendar, this year on June 4, 2023 (on the western solar-based calendar).

    Saga Dawa Düchen commemorates the Birth, Enlightenment, and Paranirvana of our Perfect and most Supreme teacher, Buddha Shakyamuni. In other Buddhist traditions, this occasion is known as Buddha Purnima, or Buddha Day — and may be celebrated slightly earlier than Saga Dawa, depending on the tradition.

    From FPMT site: “it is a day when karmic results are multiplied by 300 million times as it commemorates Shakyamuni Buddha’s three major life events.”


    Buddha Weekly Buddha attains nirvana Buddhism
    Shakyamuni Buddha practiced the eightfold path and taught it to his disciples. He attained Enlightenment.


    Saga Dawa Duchen

    The most important day in the month (perhaps for the entire year, for many Buddhists) is Saga Dawa Duchen on the full moon. Duchen means “great occasion,” and this year falls on the full moon day, June 14. It is similar to Vesak in Theravadin Buddhism  — celebrating the birth, Enlightenment and Paranirvana of Shakyamuni Buddha, but is based on the Tibetan lunar calendar. Both are the “4th month” of the lunar calendars, but they are calculated differently. (See this feature on lunar confusion for clarification>>)

    The day of the “Great Occasion” this year on June 4, 2023 is the best day of the entire year for “making merit” for the benefit of all sentient beings. In addition to the 8 precepts, other activities recommended include:

    Taking the 8 Precepts for a day

    The late, great Lama Zopa recommends taking the full 8 precepts — the precepts of a monk or nun — for the day. Traditionally, lay disciples follow five of the precepts — but for the day they take all eight. This should be done in the early morning (earlier the better!) He explains:

    “Taking the eight Mahayana precepts is a way to make life meaningful, to take its essence all day and night, by taking vows,” Lama Zopa Rinpoche has taught. “It is so simple. It is just for one day. Just for one day. It makes it so easy.”

    Here is a video of the late, great Lama Zopa offering the vows:


    From the FPMT site: “To receive the lineage, it is necessary to repeat the words of the following prayers after Lama Zopa Rinpoche:

    • Prayer for Taking the Precepts
    • Commitment Prayer to Keep the Precepts
    • The mantra of Pure Morality
    • Prayer to Keep Pure Morality

    You can certainly take the precepts simply by action and conscious decision. You don’t have to take formal precepts. Just set your mind and, for the day, ensure you do your best:

    1. I undertake to abstain from causing harm and taking life of any kind
    2. I undertake to abstain from taking what is not given.
    3. I undertake to abstain from sexual misconduct.
    4. I undertake to abstain from wrong speech: telling lies, deceiving others, manipulating others, using hurtful words.
    5. I undertake to abstain from using intoxicating drinks and drugs, which lead to carelessness.
    The additional precepts on Wesak and other special ceremonial days (or for non-lay practitioners all the time) are:
    6. I undertake to abstain from eating at the wrong time—the correct time is after sunrise but before noon.
    7. I undertake to abstain from singing, dancing, playing music, attending entertainment performances, wearing perfume, and using cosmetics and garlands or decorations.
    8. I undertake to abstain from luxurious places for sitting or sleeping, and overindulging in sleep.

    Please be aware that by taking the lineage of the eight Mahayana precepts from Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Rinpoche will become one of your gurus.” You can download the PDF text for recitation along with Lama Zopa here>>

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    Lee Kane

    Author | Buddha Weekly

    Lee Kane is the editor of Buddha Weekly, since 2007. His main focuses as a writer are mindfulness techniques, meditation, Dharma and Sutra commentaries, Buddhist practices, international perspectives and traditions, Vajrayana, Mahayana, Zen. He also covers various events.
    Lee also contributes as a writer to various other online magazines and blogs.

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