Mid-Autumn Celebration at IBC 2018-09-22

THE LIGHTS UNDER THE FULL MOON                                  by Chong Lee Suan

Mid-Autumn Festival is traditionally a harvest festival celebrated notably by ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese peoples. The festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar with full moon at night. Marking the end of the autumn harvest, the Mid-Autumn Festival was traditionally a time to express gratitude to the gods. Notably, the story of Chang E, the wife of a merciless king who downed the elixir of immortality he had intended to drink, to save her people from his tyrannical rule. The tale goes that she ascended to the moon after that, and has been worshipped by the Chinese as a Moon Goddess ever since.

It is also celebrated by Buddhists dating back to when the Eastern Han Dynasty Emperor MingDi rejoiced over the arrival of sacred Buddhist texts from India. Since then, the lanterns became a symbol of the lights of wisdom in Buddhism, showing the right path to the world for the benefits of all beings. In the secular beliefs, it is said that the spirits move around under the light of the full moon and by lighting and carrying the lanterns, the people help to illuminate the spirits’ way. 

The lights of the lantern is related either to happiness, fortune, longevity, hope or goodness. Not only Chinese see the light as a symbol for happiness, prosperity and auspiciousness, almost all traditions around the world hold the light as a torch of wisdom and hope that shines for a brighter future. This tells us humans realize and understand the ups and downs, obstacles and mishaps in life. Hence, since the ancient time, humans had begun to develop religious and philosophical studies, striving to acquire deeper knowledge and wisdom to find the path towards forever lasting happiness and peace. 
In Buddhism, the brightness of candle lights during the prayers is something quiet special and profound. It can be seen as the lights of the full moon as a symbol of perfection and liberation. It brings not the wealth, fortune or prosperity. It is not meant only for the happiness of this present short term of life time. Buddha brought us beyond our death to make us think about the possibility of a continuous life after life; and a leap out from the samsara, to seek for a truth beyond the birth and death. Everyone hopes not to experience any sufferings and fear in life. Buddha’s teachings intend to lighten our path to escape from what we all find suffering in this human life.

Different colours of lights are also found emanated from the Yidams, Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. These lights are serene, blissful and powerful to help cleansing and eliminating the defilements and bad karma of the practitioners and all sentient beings. It is taught that the Buddhas’ lights may purify one’s mind, help him or her to be awakened to virtues, and also open one’s eyes to understand his or her inner pure nature and wisdom. Buddha’s light is limitless as it needs to shine as vast as it can to reach all sentient beings. It is considered a great blessing if someone is always mindful of Buddhas’ holy and luminous qualities, and learns the virtuous acts in the body, speech and mind of the Buddhas.

Some may not believe as these are as though fairy tales that cannot be proven at all. However, Buddha had wisely said, “Do not blindly believe my teachings. Put my teachings into practice and prove it before you believe it.”

There is no harm to cultivate virtues and altruism in the teachings of Buddhas. With our common sense, we know it will somehow benefit ourselves and the society. So, it seems to be quite worthwhile to give it a try and journey the wisdom of the Buddhas to see what we may discover at the very end where the lights rest.