The full moon of July (2008 is July 18th) is the day we celebrate the teachings of Buddha. This celebration is called Dharma Day. The day marks the first teachings of Siddhartha.
Immediately after Siddhartha gained Enlightenment, he sought out his first five (5) followers to share his experiences with them. When he found them, this marked the first of his discourses in the path to enlightenment thus this is usually referred to as the beginning of the Buddhist religion. These first teachings have been called The First Turning of the Wheel of the Dharma or Dharmachakra. Buddha believed that every man and woman could find the same Path to Enlightenment. He wanted to see the end of suffering to all beings. This time also was the beginning of the rainy season in Nepal. Normally Buddha, his monks and nuns were nomadic. During the three (3) months of the rainy season, they would stay in sheltered areas. They filled their time with meditations and teachings. After monsoon season passed, they would begin their journeys again to spread the teachings of the Buddha.
In present day, we celebrate this day by spending extra time reading the teachings of the Buddha, give thanks to Buddha and our teachers both past and present. Dharma Day is a perfect time to come together at the sangha for celebration through readings and teachings from our elder students, lamas, rinopches, etc. Cleaning of the temple areas and monastery also take place on this day. The activities done on this day are similar to those done on Vesak.
If you are unable to attend sangha on this day, spend extra time in meditation, reflection, reading of Buddha’s teachings. Feeling deep gratitude for our teachers for providing their knowledge to us to enable us to find enlightenment and end suffering of ourselves and to aid others in ending their suffering is what this day marks.
With Every Breath
With every breath I take today,
I vow to be awake;
And every step I take,
I vow to take with a grateful heart--
So I may see with eyes of love
into the hearts of all I meet,
To ease their burden when I can
And touch them with a smile of peace.
Source: Blue Iris Sangha