Birthday Dana

Venue: House of the Wong Family

Today’s dana is held to celebrate Mrs. Wong’s birthday. Celebrating birthdays is actually a westernized concept that we have all come to accept commonly. Realistically, however, if we were to look at it from a Buddhist point of view and in the light of the Four Noble Truths, birth is considered part of the First Noble Truth of suffering. The act of giving birth causes untold pain and suffering to the mother as well as the baby.

However, to be reborn as a human being is, by itself, a reason for celebration especially so when one is reborn in the time when the Buddha or the Buddha Dhamma is present in the world. If, however, a person is reborn outside of this time period, he may not be able to learn about kamma vipaka and the virtue of merits and will find it almost impossible to walk the righteous and right path towards enlightenment.

The Buddha not only taught us about the Cause of Suffering but also showed us the Cessation of Suffering as well as the Way to reach it. For monks, the way to Nibbana is through the cultivation of sila, samadhi and pañña. It is not an easy path. For those whose paramis are near perfection, listening to Dhamma being expounded is enough to attain liberation. For others, hearing the Dhamma encourages them to renounce so as to have more time, less distraction and fewer obstacles along the path.

It is a fact that in any dana, the merits gained are enhanced by the virtue of the recipient. However, the practise of dana goes hand in hand with the cultivation of metta. One should not be calculative when performing dana, otherwise one is actually practising greed and not charity. As such, the merits obtained from the practice of ‘ordinary’ dana is not comparable to the practice of the perfection of the parami of generosity where one gives as and when appropriate and when needed with no regard as to whom the recipient may be.

Again, in dana, the virtue of the donor is equally important. That is why we start our dana with the chanting of the Tisarana follow by the Pañca Sila. When a person listens to and practises the Dhamma, e.g. takes refuge in the Triple Gem, undertakes to observe the 5 precepts, practises Metta Bhavana and develops Vipassana meditation, the merits he gains continually increases in value each step of the way. To encourage this, we have regular Saturday night meditation classes. There is transport readily available up to SBS so I sincerely hope that many of you will make an effort to meet us at Hor Yah Temple at 8pm every Saturday night.

Let us now share the merits we have accrued today.

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