By Julie Dieterle
All of us living in the northern climes look forward to spring. Where there are four seasons, I think we are more in touch with the cycles of the seasons. As we come out of winter, with its long, cold hours of darkness, muted colors, lack of vitality in plants, animals hunkered down, and birds that have flown south, we hunger for signs of life, renewal, birth and re-birth.
We all have a favorite sign of this — light of longer days, warmer temperatures, first Robin, Snow Drops, Scylla flowers, water cress and spinach, flocks of geese, tulips, sandhill cranes, green grass and bird songs, first day of baseball, first day of golf, etc.
Our senses are flooded, we feel the aliveness, and every day there is change and growth. We feel uplifted, lighter. We come out of our houses to be in the sunshine. We begin to plan gardens, get out our bikes, and take long walks.
There are celebrations of spring in every tradition. May Day a northern hemisphere festival, Beltane from the Gaelic tradition, Hanami from Japan, Nowruz from Iran. Something stirs the human spirit.
One of the festivals that celebrates the return of light, recognizes the sun’s course as it is closest to the earth, and according to the Buddhist tradition, brings the energy of the hierarchy – higher spiritual energy – more available to us, is called WESAK. It is one of the most important Buddhist festivals. They celebrate it as Gautama Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death. It celebrates the energy of wisdom. Some believe that the Buddha and Christ appear together to re-affirm the love and wisdom they represent.
The festival of WESAK is celebrated all around the world by many non-Buddhists as well. WESAK is officially celebrated at the time of the Full Moon in Taurus. This year this occurs April 29th at 7:58pm in the central time zone. In the Buddhist tradition, this is the second of three spring festivals. The first we experienced as Easter, the Christ festival, celebrating the energy of love, the Aries Full Moon. The third festival is the Gemini Full Moon, celebrating the energy of goodwill to humanity.
WESAK is often seen as a time of “springing” forward with renewal of the virtues of love, wisdom, and goodwill to all of mankind.
I think of New Years as a time of reflecting on our year and correcting our course of action. We “resolve” to do better—lose weight, eat better, exercise more, read more, watch less TV, eat more chocolate.
WESAK is a time of spiritual reflection. How can we grow and expand our inner awareness? How can I serve humanity in an expanded way? Can I be kinder, calmer, and more appreciative? Can I share more, be more respectful? Can I accept things as they are? What inspires me? How do I want to spend my energy? What meaning do I want to give to my life?
On WESAK, many gather together and meditate or pray. There are celebrations on-line and live around Wisconsin. There are opportunities to celebrate locally as well. Check it out!
The Imagineers present Wesak on Sat. April 28, 2018 at 6pm at 108 S. Jackson St, Janesville (The Woman’s Club). Look for our ad on the front cover.