• By Nhat Quan
    The old year has passed with many hardships, worries, and sorrows. The new year comes, and people's hearts are full of dreams, hopes, and faith in a newer, brighter life. That is your general mood when facing life.
    Spring comes, heaven and earth change, all things revive, and new life covers all things. In the face of the transformation of the universe, each of you's consciousness is filled with aspirations and happiness for yourself, your family, your relatives, your neighbors, and society.
    Indeed, the beginning of Spring is the time of sprouting new flowers, new fruits in nature, and fortune, virtue, happiness, and peace in your wishes and hopes. It is the time that makes your heart the deepest and gentlest of the year. At that moment, each person around you, from their thoughts to their actions, must keep from creating evil things during those sacred days, so that everything will go smoothly in the new year.
    Spring, therefore, is the season of love, the season of hopes, desires, and dreams. In spring, wishes will easily come true. The spring air makes you more sociable, more pleasant and your heart more altruistic. On this occasion, as Buddhists, everyone knows that going to the New Year's peace ceremony is a custom with many meanings, above all is to find a place with spiritual value to pray for peace for the whole family in the future new year. That has become a cultural habit, and especially a long-standing Vietnamese cultural custom.
    Praying for peace at the beginning of the year is the wish to have a peaceful and happy life, free of illness, suffering, and fewer risks and uncertainties... Every one of you wishes for three peaces:
    - Security in each of you must be body security, that is, healthy, long life, no illness, no accidents, risks...,
    - Peace of mind means your mental state is peaceful, and comfortable, with no anxiety, depression, no fear, no crisis, no stress...,
    - A peaceful situation means your family is prosperous, and happy, good living conditions, good living circumstances, good relationships, and many favorable conditions in life...
    Based on doing good, if you want to achieve those things, you need to cultivate and train your body and mind, and actively build your personal life and social life in the spirit of cause and effect. This means that each person must practice:
    - Right view means you see, know correctly, perceive correctly,
    - Right thinking means your thinking is correct, positive,
    - Right speech means your speech is truthful, gentle, compassionate, and has practical benefits for you and others.
    - Right action means your actions are righteous, the three actions of body, speech, and mind are pure.
    - Right livelihood means you support your body and life through your right career and work
    - Mindfulness means your thoughts are right, always remembering to think good things, not having crazy thoughts, not thinking about greed, anger, or ignorance. Practice meditation to have the ability to control emotions, feelings, and psychology, and not be easily attracted or tempted by negative and unwholesome behavior and lifestyle. Wisdom, clear perception, ability to understand correctly and positively. You know how to determine what is good and what is bad, and what actions bring peace and happiness to you and others.
    Even higher, you see the nature of dependent arising life, impermanence, suffering, emptiness, and no-self, and then escape the illusions and illusions of ordinary people. From then on, there will be no more constraints or consequences, no more insecurity and suffering. And if you want to build a happy and peaceful life, there is nothing more than each of you trying to create a lot of good karma, not giving rise to bad karma and leaving behind the bad karma you have created.
    Therefore, praying for peace to eliminate bad karma at the beginning of the year has an extremely vivid and truly beneficial meaning. In addition to each of you, pray for peace, calm down, and repent of your evil karma. In addition, you also receive the blessings and protection of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Sangha, good deities, and the entire Dharma Assembly. In Buddhist scriptures, these powers are called inconceivable. That means its function and power are inconceivable or inexplicable.
    Ceremonies to pray for peace and eliminate bad karma are held at the beginning of the year at pagodas, which are places with quiet surroundings, thus increasing the effectiveness of the ritual's content. The Medicine Buddha vows to save sentient beings and relieve suffering and diseases. Therefore, the ceremony to pray for peace at the beginning of the year is also called the Festival of Medicine Buddha
    At the beginning of the new year, with the thought of wishing peace and happiness for all Buddhists, it is important that as a Buddhist, you must always keep this in mind:
    - Buddhism is most precious because of the mind. If you maintain a good mind and sincerity, praying for peace and eliminating bad karma will bring about the desired effect. If the mind is not good and the heart is not sincere, the results will never be as desired.
    If done correctly, you will create an environment following the spirit of Buddhism, so that your spiritual life will progress more and more, quickly reaching enlightenment and liberation. That is the most correct motto to contribute to building a healthy and good living environment as taught by Buddha. Therefore, monks and nuns hold the peace praying ceremony at the beginning of the year with the thought of praying for peace, luck, and happiness for everyone in the new year. The meaning of holding a ceremony to pray for peace at the beginning of the year is not beyond the desire for the ceremony to be an opportunity for everyone to sincerely repent, abandon evil, and do good in that moment of praying for peace. Urgently and sincerely pray for the blessings of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and good gods. At the same time, let you vow to do many good things for life and religion such as:
    - Releasing living beings, giving alms, making offerings to the Three Jewels... and vowing to dedicate the merits of those good deeds and Buddhist deeds so that you and your family can overcome disasters and can eliminate disasters and reduce sins.
    When everyone participates in the peace prayer ceremony, they will live in moments of mindfulness, visualization, and following the Buddha's teachings. All blessings in this life have been cultivated and cared for many lifetimes ago. When you know how to speak kind words, do good deeds, and be compassionate to help others, your life will be blessed and peaceful in the present moment.
    Praying for peace in the first days of the year is a legitimate activity and following the spiritual needs in the daily life of Buddhists in particular, and Vietnamese people in general.
    As a Vietnamese, you have such a tradition of preserving, unconsciously you have understood and implemented in a very natural way the ethics of cause and effect and karma. Avoid thinking and doing evil things so that the new year will bring sweet fruits and good things for a peaceful and happy life.
    The issue of praying for peace and liberating karma in Buddhism meets the thoughts and actions of true Buddhists since Buddhism existed within the nation. So the issue of praying for peace on the first days of the year is a legitimate activity and following the spiritual needs in the daily life of Buddhists. In special situations like when your family has to deal with difficulties, conducting a peace ceremony requires a ritual, doing some Buddhist work, and some good deeds to achieve the goals such as getting blessings, avoiding disasters, etc. are necessary for everyone.
    Buddhism explains the principle of cause and effect as the law that governs everyone's life. Good actions of each individual, and good actions of the collective. Combined with the blessing power of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and good gods can bring about the elimination of accidents and sins for those who wish to achieve the goal of true peace. Awareness of the effectiveness of such a ritual to pray for peace does not contradict the cause-and-effect principle of Buddhism. Of course, the prerequisite for an effective ritual of praying for peace is that the person praying for peace and the relatives of the person involved must have a correct understanding of the doctrine of cause and effect. Talking about the principle of cause and effect, Buddhist scriptures teach:
    - Suppose hundreds, thousands of lifetimes
    Creating karma is not lost
    When you meet the fate
    The retribution you have done is yours to bear
    Thus, an accident that happens to your family and relatives is not a random event. Still, it is the inevitable result of some bad, evil action committed previously in the present life, or many past lives. Now is the time to ripen, and it's not like any god has descended for you.
    Therefore, you and your family must sincerely repent, abandon evil, and do good in that moment of peace, earnestly praying for the blessings of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and good spirits. At the same time, do many good deeds for life and religion such as releasing animals, giving alms, making offerings to the Three Jewels... and vow to dedicate the merits of those good deeds and Buddhist deeds to help yourself and your family overcome disasters and accidents. And so the ability to eliminate disasters and reduce crimes will be effective.
    Each of you is born because of karma. If karma is good, the retribution in this life will be a perfect body, a relatively abundant material life, and a comfortable and happy spirit. If you create a lot of bad karma, this life will have an imperfect appearance, a poor material life, an unstable spirit, and less happiness.
    Karma has a very strong appeal, attracting and leading you into a world of peace or suffering. The karma of the past shapes your present life. It is the power of past evil karma that has brought disaster to yourself or your family in the present. However, current actions such as Buddhist work and peace offerings are all good and good karma has the power to eliminate sins and reduce disasters.
    With this viewpoint, Buddhism tells you that there is no supreme god who created this universe. Buddhism rejects the concept of such a supreme deity, but Buddhism acknowledges that there are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who are enlightened and liberated beings who regularly bless sentient beings. Guide sentient beings to abandon evil and do good, moving forward on the path of enlightenment and liberation. At the same time, Buddhism also acknowledges that many good gods protect and bless you for taking refuge in the three jewels, being diligent in keeping the precepts you have received, and people who regularly do good deeds. Looking at daily life in society, you can relate to that. In life, people who live seriously and ethically, who often help others and do useful things for society, are always respected, respected, and protected by society. Buddhist scriptures also specifically say that, for those who have taken refuge in the Three Jewels, done good deeds, and regularly made offerings to the Three Jewels, 25 good gods help and protect them.
    So the negative karma that you have to suffer in the present is because you created the cause from the past. Therefore, praying for peace, or to put it more simply, praying for peace and liberation from karma, or praying for peace and eliminating karma. The main thing of this ritual is that each of you and your whole family must sincerely repent, vow to abandon evil and do good, and vow to follow many Buddhist and good deeds such as releasing animals, giving alms, making offerings... dedicating merit. Virtue will help you overcome disasters. Therefore, in Buddhist scriptures, it is often taught:
    - Crime arises from the mind
    Repent with your heart
    Mind has repented
    That sin immediately disappeared
    Sin is eliminated and the mind is pure
    That is true repentance
    The Buddha often taught:
    - If you give alms out of joy, you will be happy later.
    This mindset has entered the living traditions during festivals, especially Tet. On spring days, Buddhists in particular, and Vietnamese people in general often prepare new money and small denominations to give alms to people who are less fortunate than you in everyday life.
    Often you do not understand the principles of cause and effect and karma of Buddhism, because you believe that your life is placed by God and determined according to God's will. Buddhism, as stated above, rejects the theory of destiny. Buddhism uses the theory of karma to explain the concept of human life and the universe. Realizing the guiding power of karma created by the mind, once the karma is eliminated, the karma is eliminated by the mind of repentance, the disaster will be reduced or eliminated.
    Maybe your current life is facing many difficulties, suffering, and unhappiness, which is due to karma from previous lives or the past of this life. But good karma created in the present can partly neutralize previous bad karma. Because from cause to effect, there are factors, there are good or bad causes and conditions involved, so karma and results will change. There are also cases where bad karma does not form due to too strong intervention of good conditions.
    Therefore, you need to understand that everything in the present is not entirely determined by the karma of past lives but is also created by the karma of the present. It is a life attitude, concept, negative or positive thoughts, and behaviors in the present. So if you do not create bad karma, creating a lot of good karma in the present is a wise attitude to improve your unsatisfactory life and build a happy and peaceful life for yourself. That is a positive way to pray for peace.
    You can turn heavy karma into light by repenting for the karma you have created and making an effort to practice and create good causes and conditions to reduce or eliminate the formation of bad karma. By practicing good dharmas, by cultivating morality, concentration, and wisdom, you can neutralize the light karma that you should have received as a result.
    Only those who have good intentions, whose actions of body, speech, and mind are all good, will have those karma under the Buddha's original nature. By the great compassion of the Buddhas, one should receive good retributions, manifested in praying for inspiration, effectiveness, meeting many favorable conditions, etc., Not being blessed by Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, or eliminating bad karma for you.
    No one can bless you or bring disaster to you, not even Buddha. If a person creates a lot of unwholesome karma that others can bear for them, or help them escape the consequences of suffering, then the law of cause and effect and karma no longer exists. Buddha saves you to help improve yourself, thereby changing the situation. When you generate a good mind, you create good karma, which leads to good consequences:
    - Life is peaceful and happy, with many satisfying things.
    The act of going to the temple to make offerings to the Three Jewels, respecting the Buddha, and respecting the Sangha is a good action, a good karma that of course leads to good results, but in fact, no one gives it to you.
    In short, on the first day of the year, going to the pagoda, praying for peace, and picking fortune is an opportunity for you to cultivate blessings and practice to accumulate merit. You are someone who understands the law of cause and effect, so you know that each of you is born because of karma. If karma is good, the retribution in this life will be a full body, a relatively abundant material life, and a comfortable and happy spirit. If you create many evil karma and live an unrighteous life, an unwholesome life such as: Stealing, robbing, defrauding, appropriating, buying and selling fraudulently, lying and deceiving, getting rich on the bones and blood of others... If you live carelessly and without responsibility towards yourself, your family, or society such as alcohol, gambling, debauchery, debauchery, causing suffering to you and others... then no matter how much you pray for peace, there is no peace, no matter how much you pray, no one can save you. Remember, the meaning of praying for peace in Buddhism is different from folk beliefs and theocratic religions.
    Therefore, the first day of Spring is a new opportunity, the time when people's hearts are the most profound, gentle, and beautiful. At that moment, each person around you, from thoughts to actions, must always keep from creating evil things during those sacred days to have a smooth new year. Understanding that and doing that, traveling in spring, picking fortune, praying for peace, and receiving blessings will have a big effect on peace and happiness.
    If you have any recommendations, please e-mail to: