• By Nhat Quan
    Every season Buddha's birthday comes, there are images of Buddha everywhere, and the atmosphere is very cheerful and bustling. Those are festive days when all Buddhists joyfully celebrate Buddha's birthday. Celebrating Buddha's birthday is to remember, review, and be grateful for the great birth of Buddha.
    The aspiration of all sentient beings is to want happiness and avoid suffering. The desire or tendency to be happy and avoid suffering knows no bounds. It is a very natural event, and also very legitimate. The existence of Shakyamuni Buddha on this earth nearly twenty-six centuries ago with the purpose of guiding sentient beings to escape suffering and live a happy life.
    As a disciple of the Buddha, surely all of you have at some time heard the meaningful teaching about the image of the Buddha taking seven lotus steps. Those seven steps are steps on the true path, leading to perfect, endless happiness.
    In a solemn and respectful atmosphere with thousands of hearts of Buddhists, they shared with each other, on the occasion of Buddha's birthday, the meanings they had heard from the Masters about the meaning of Buddha's birth. Through that, you will be able to understand something, which can help you have more happy qualities in this interrelated existence. There are two theories about the meaning of Bodhisattva walking on seven lotus flowers:
    1- First Theory:
    When Bodhisattva Siddhartha was born, he took seven steps on seven lotus flowers, meaning:
    - Each lotus flower represents a Buddha, seven lotus flowers signal that seven Buddhas have appeared in the samsara world to save sentient beings. And also to signal to sentient beings that Shakyamuni Buddha is the seventh Buddha. In the Dirghagama Sutta, the first sutta says:
    - The causes and conditions of the birth, enlightenment, and transformation of the seven Buddhas in the Saha world, there are three Buddhas of the past life called the Dignified Life. And the four Buddhas of the present life are called the Present Life. The sutra does not mention future kalpas, that is, stellar kalpas. The seven Buddhas include:
    1- Vipassi-buddha of the past life
    2- The Sikhin-buddha of the past life
    3- Buddha Vairocana of the past life
    4- Buddha Kakuda-Katyayana of the present life
    5- Buddha Kanakamuni of the present life
    6- Kassapa-buddha of the present life
    7- Buddha Shakyamuni in the present life teaches and transforms sentient beings in the samsara world.
    2- Second Theory
    In another theory of the Upasaka Sutra, the chapter on pure conduct says:- After being pregnant with Queen Maya close to giving birth,  followed custom Queen Maya returned to her homeland to give birth. On the way back to her hometown, the queen stopped at a beautiful park called Lumbini Garden. The queen leisurely walked in the garden enjoying the fresh air, after a long and tiring journey. Coming under a Without Sorrow Tree, she looked at the Udumbara flower that bloomed once in a thousand years, showing off its fragrant flowers. Suddenly, Queen Maga raised her right arm to pick the flower, and then from her right side, Buddha was born, he gently walked seven steps on seven lotus flowers,
    The image of the Buddha taking seven steps on seven lotus flowers is a significant symbol, describing the Buddha's birth. The appearance of a Buddha or to put it more clearly, a sentient being from an ordinary human condition, wanting to reach Buddhahood, must go through that seven-step lotus path:
    1- Step one: Looking to the East, he said:
    - For the sake of sentient beings, be the ultimate guide.
    The East is the direction where the sun rises. The sun represents the light of wisdom and great understanding. That includes the entire journey of forming knowledge, building from ordinary wisdom to the wisdom of saints. That means you must have the knowledge, then from there, with mature reflection, know what is a good, beautiful way to live the life of an intellectual in the position of ordinary people, sentient beings. But different from the chaotic person you were before. The ancients once said that you must become a complete human being before becoming a Buddha. Buddhism only teaches two essential things: compassion and wisdom. And to nurture that love for a long time and truly bring peace to each other, the only and first material must be understanding. If you don't understand clearly and thoroughly, you will easily have clumsy words and gestures that will make each other suffer. And to have a wise attitude to live and love, you must learn and understand and love.
    2- Step two: Look to the south:
    - For sentient beings, He is a good field of blessings.
    According to Buddha's teachings, if you want to have a good life, you start creating merit for yourself, which means you start practicing, start changing karma, to create good karma. Buddhists who want to do this must first take refuge in the Three Jewels.
    Taking refuge in the Three Jewels means turning back and relying on them, living according to the Three Jewels in your mind. It is an important and beneficial decision for your life. From here, you give up the confused and disorderly way of living, often causing suffering to each other, with your body (beating)..., with words (harsh words, stabbing, scratching at both ends...), with intention (cunning, evil) but instead by living an enlightened way. You are aware of karma and know how to consider the consequences of your actions to create happiness for each other. So when you take refuge, it means cutting your life in two and ending the life of reincarnation and suffering; and opening a life of liberation and happiness, while also serving as a refuge for other sentient beings.
    Step three: Look to the West:
    - For sentient beings, this is the last body.
    Once you have stopped the creation of your mind, making your body and mind pure and quiet is considered the way to the end of suffering. Here you see that your mind is very important in your practice, determining your happiness and peace. Obviously, there is only an attitude of acceptance within your reach, within your limited capacity and ability for what you desire. That is what sets and determines your happiness. That is a simple standard for you to have such joy and lightness without the ambition to cover everything. Purifying your mind to end the flow of negative karma and liberate yourself from birth and death has given you some very practical life lessons.
    The West is the direction where the sun sets. That means you should calm down your mind's disturbances, unjust thoughts, comparisons, jealousy, and hatred, then those bad thoughts will only have a chance to arise one last time, right away when you realize their true side and they will be gone forever. So it gives way to universal love, great understanding, and sympathy in your soul, and then you have come to the end of this third step. That is the burden that has been put down, from now on there will no longer be a return to the state of suffering of life and death.
    4- Step four: Look to the North:
    - For sentient beings, the Buddha manifested this world of five impurities in a human body, to achieve perfect enlightenment and liberate sentient beings from suffering.
    The North is a cold, gloomy direction, representing places where sentient beings have never met the Three Jewels. Because they do not meet the Three Jewels, sentient beings continue to follow their worldly desires to create evil karma and then dive into the sea of suffering of birth and death for many lifetimes, not knowing the way to escape.
    According to Buddha's teachings, the human body is the most ideal for practice. Every one of you has the ability to become a Buddha:
    - All sentient beings have Buddha nature
    This saying is metaphorically like a lotus in a pond, each person is a lotus. Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and saints are lotus flowers that have emerged from the mud of the five desires in life and death, filled with the light of truth, blooming to beautify and ease the pain of life. You are also lotus flowers but have not yet emerged from the water. Therefore, this North speaks of attaining Supreme Enlightenment for the sake of sentient beings. This clearly states the concept that appeared in the lives of the Buddhas, an eloquent proof of Buddhahood that each of you has a part in, so you must practice according to Buddha's teachings.
    5- Step five: Look to the downward:
    - Because sentient beings subdue all kinds of demons.
    Demons are things that always hinder your body and mind, hindering your progress in practice and doing good deeds. There are internal demons and external demons. Let's not talk about external obstacles. Look into your own inner demons. These are weak demons that cannot overcome lust, arrogance, contempt, greed, jealousy, and selfishness, such as:
    - When you see someone successful, you feel jealous. When you see someone lonely, you bully them. Meeting people in need but not knowing how to share alms even though you have more than enough strength, on the contrary, you manipulate and exploit...
    All of these demons prevent you from doing anything that benefits anyone but yourself. Therefore, you cannot do any good deed, no matter how small, your mind is forever imprisoned in selfishness. Here you can see more clearly, that once you take refuge in the Three Jewels and return to wisdom and love, you will untie yourself and save yourself from the three realms of hell, hungry ghosts, and animals. .
    6- Step six: Lookup:
    - For sentient beings, to be a refuge for heaven and people.
    The scriptures teach:
    - The four saints and six mortals are all in your mind.
    The heavenly realm and the human realm, too, are realms in your consciousness. Those are states of consciousness in which you have sublimated many good qualities within yourself. Do you try and control the lowly mentalities that are compared to the lower realms such as Hell, hungry ghosts, animals, and asuras. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are present in all those realms to set an example, to lead sentient beings out of the harsh siege of that Self. That is the meaning of the deeds of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who exist throughout the realms to save sentient beings. Coming here also lets you understand one thing:
    - As long as you are completely free from ego, then you will become a Buddha no matter what position or status you are in.
    7- Step seven: Buddha declared:
    - In heaven and under heaven, I am the only one above all.
    You can understand that the reason for floating up and down in the three realms and six paths is due to the deep attachment to a self at the bottom of your mind. But the true meaning of that statement, in terms of perception and practice, you can draw two meanings, which are:
    - The truth of meaning The mundane or ordinary modes of expression and individual treatment or adapting his teaching to the capacity of his hearers.
    According to the meaning of The mundane or Ordinary modes of expression, it is the event of the Buddha's appearance in this world as the most noble and supreme being, something that has never happened before, and will never happen again in the future. But with the meaning of individual treatment or adapting his teaching to the capacity of his hearers, this sentence also means that your life and death are all decided by you. How your life is, pleasure or suffering, rich or poor, noble or vile... it's all up to you to decide.
    That is the main meaning of what the Buddha said in the sentence:
    - In heaven and under heaven, only I am supreme.
    He wants to inform you that every action, right or wrong, good or evil, suffering or happiness... in this life is up to you to do, to decide your own life. He compassionately gave back the right to self-determination to humans amidst the voices of divine power and vague mystery.
    In short, the seven steps of walking on seven lotus flowers, according to Buddhist teachings, represent the seven good deeds of Buddha when he appeared in the world. He brought the teachings of the three times of the Buddhas, just like the true Dharma, to save sentient beings. A Buddha born into the samsara world must have enough qualifications to save the world. Buddhas before and after all taught in the same way, without distorting the Dharma of the three generations of Buddhas.
    According to Buddha, each step you take is also supported by a lotus flower, each step is a lotus step in this life. It has pure qualities, not being wet by life. Buddhists practice according to Buddha's teachings, each step you take is a lotus step. Following those 7 lotus steps means you start a new life walking in the world without depending on the world. And the moment you take refuge or are on the path to practice according to the teachings, peace is immediately present in every step you take. Each step you take is peaceful and steady towards your happy destination. And that joy will not only be enjoyed by you, the joy that comes from practicing according to Buddha's teachings, of Buddhists, you have the ability to share with others, with all humanity.
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