Today in Thailand Buddhists celebrate Asahna Bucha day commemorating the Buddha’s first sermon after his enlightenment more than 2,500 years ago. This day is celebrated on the first full moon of the eighth lunar month which is 19 July in 2016 ; this day is also referred to as Dharma Day with “dharma” meaning the teachings of the Buddha.
In this specific sermon, the Buddha spelled out the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, both major aspects of the Buddhist religion.
Four Noble Truths comprises the essence of all the Buddha’s teachings:
- the truth of suffering – there IS suffering
- the truth of the cause of suffering – craving causes suffering
- the truth of the end of suffering – there is a state of non-suffering
- the truth of the eightfold path which leads to the end of suffering (nirvana)
The Noble Eightfold Path consists of 8 concepts which develop insight into the true nature of reality, achieve liberation from rebirths and attain nirvana. The 8 elements can be classified as follows:
- Right Understanding- Learning the nature of reality and the truth about life.
- Right Aspiration- Making the commitment to living in such a way that our suffering can end.
- Right Effort- Just Do It. No Excuses.
- Right Speech- Speaking the truth in a helpful and compassionate way.
- Right Conduct- Living a life consistent with our values.
- Right Livelihood- Earning a living in a way that doesn’t hurt others.
- Right Mindfulness- Recognizing the value of the moment; living where we are.
- Right Concentration- Expanding our consciousness through meditation.
Asahna Bucha Day is an observed National Holiday where Buddhists donate offerings to temples and listen to sermons. It is also a popular day for young Thai men to enter the monkhood; something considered an ideal way for a man to make merit for himself and his family.
The day after Asahna Bucha is another important day (and also a National Holiday) marking the beginning of Buddhist Lent (Wan Khao Phansa); a three-month period where monks should stay in their temples and not travel. The lent period is also known as ‘Rains Retreat’ and originates from ancient times when monks stayed in temples during the rainy season to avoid killing the growing seeds; monks can go out during the day but must sleep in the same temple every night for the lent period.
The 18th and 19th July are National holidays in Thailand this year so beware that numerous stores will not be open for two days. However, all of our Active Thailand tours will continue to operate.