Saturday, May 20, marked the beginning of the month of Saga Dawa, which will end on June 18, 2023. This is the most auspicious month in the Tibetan lunar calendar. In Tibetan, “Saga” means fourth and is also the name of a star which is prominent in the sky during the fourth lunar month; “Dawa” refers to the whole month. Saga Dawa is sacred because in this month, three monumental events — the birth, enlightenment, and nirvana of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni — are all believed to have taken place. Because of this, throughout the month of Saga Dawa, there is a great multiplying effect of the meritorious and demeritorious actions of body, speech, and mind by 100,000 times. Throughout this month, any positive actions such as doing solitary retreats, meditation, prostrations, or any other form of virtuous Dharmic activities made through the body, speech, and mind will be multiplied by 100,000. In the same way, any unwholesome or negative activities will also be multiplied by 100,000.
The 15th day of this lunar month is a full moon and is called Saga Dawa Duchen. This year, Saga Dawa Duchen will take place on Sunday, June 4th. Saga Dawa Duchen, the “Great Occasion” of the month of Saga Dawa, commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni, the supreme and perfect Guru. The fifteenth day of the month is very special as the birth of Buddha Shakyamuni, which refers to the day the consciousness of the Buddha entered his mother’s womb rather than His physical birth. At the age of 35, the Buddha attained enlightenment at Bodhgaya. This day also marks the anniversary of His parinirvana at Kushinagara at the age of 80. This is the single most important day of the year for all Vajrayana practitioners and Tibetan Buddhists. Therefore, this month represents a great opportunity to commemorate and honor the Buddha, and to accumulate merit and purify our body, speech, and mind. This month only occurs once a year, so please wholeheartedly practice the Dharma during this precious time! Tashi Delek