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The Message of Great Celebration of Vu Lan-Parents’ Day

Ven. Thích Trừng Sỹ


Namo The Original Master Sakyamuni Buddhaya

Dear the Venerable Buddhist Monks and Nuns

Dear Dharma Sisters, Brothers, and everyone,

We all know that in Buddhism every year, there are many important festivals bearing deep humanity, culture, spirituality, education, virtue, drinking water to remember the source, thanksgiving, gratitude, remembrance, etc. With the above-mentioned meanings, Vu Lan – Filial season  – Parents’ Day is one of the most important festivals of Buddhism presented as follows:

First, Vu Lan – Filial season reminds us to remember the spirit of drinking water to remember the source, namely our spirit of grateful kindness, thanksgiving, and remembrance to the light of insight of Buddha Jewel, Dharma Jewel, and Sangha Jewel; to the gratitude of the parents’ nurture and upbringing; to the gratitude of education and teaching of Dharma as well as secular teachers, those who have the ability to transmit the source of knowledge and wisdom; to the places where we were born, grow up, live, and work; to the national heroes, those who have the merits to found and defend the country from ancient time until today; to students and disciples, those who have the ability to connect and light up the source of knowledge and wisdom in the present and in the future; to children and descendants, those who have the ability to connect the family temple; and to the dharma realms of beings all over the planet.

Indeed, all living things and living beings in this world have interrelationships, interdependent origination, interdependent arising, and inter-being very closely. With the deep vision and practice of meditative contemplation, we know the insightful sources of grateful kindness and gratitude are always in us and they are never outside us. When born and growing up in life, without them, we cannot become intelligent, talented, and virtuous people for the world. Therefore, we are the continuation and inheritance of the ancestors, the parents, the Three Jewels, the Patriarchs, Teachers, etc. We can bring all to the future brightly, beautifully, and gloriously through Dharma learning, Dharma practice, Dharma understanding, Dharma joy, and Dharma happiness.

In everyday life, in order to become the sources of love and understanding for the many, as well-trained practitioners, we have to happily sympathize and smile for ourselves and other people. We know how to breathe, how to walk, stand, lie down, sit, think, speak, and act in mindfulness and awareness to bring joy and happiness to ourselves and other people. We know the way to practice loving speech and deep listening effectively and practically to build happiness for the many right in the present life.

Second, Vu Lan – Parents’ Day also reminds us to remember the morality of cause and effect and the morality of filial piety to make people between us and our loved ones and relatives. Vietnamese folk song has stated:

If we are filial with our parents,

then in near future, our children are also filial with us in the same way.

If we are not filial with our parents,

do not expect our children to be filial with us at all.”

According to the morality of cause and effect, and according to the Buddha’s teachings, in the present life, the parents are two Buddhas living in the house. The Buddha has taught that we were born in the world without seeing the Buddha, but we skillfully worship, take care of, and serve our parents with the right Dharma, advise the parents to do good, avoid evil, advise the parents to know the way to take refuge in the Triple Gem, and practice the Five Ethical Trainings, then we have met the Buddha right in life. When understanding and practicing so, we are really filial children with our grandparents and parents. On the contrary, when parents still live in the world, we do not know the filial way with our parents, not spend proper time taking care of the parents when the parents grow old and weak.

Waiting for our parents to pass away, we start visiting and crying, at that time, it is too late. Sometimes, to cover everyone eyes, we care about holding the funeral for the parents too big. After finishing organizing the funeral for the parents, we get indebted, causing argument and discord between us and our loved ones. It is not correct with the right Dharma and not filial with our parents; therefore, we should avoid that.

Third, after three months of Summer Retreat or Rains Retreat (Vassa Vassa), according to the tradition of Mahayana Buddhism, Vu Lan – Filial Piety – Parents’ Day reminds us to remember the day when the Buddha is happy; the day when everyone renews and refreshes the body and mind; the day when the monks and nuns get one more age of the Dharma; the day when lay devotees have a good chance to create the blessing and make offerings of food, drinks, robes, sleeping things (blankets, pillows, beds), medicine, transportation to monastic people; and the day when everyone has a wholesome opportunity to offer the robes of the Kathina merit.

Finally, Vu Lan – Filial Piety – Parents’ Day includes the ceremony day of the Roses pinned on the pockets initiated by Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh and it has originated in the 1960s so far through the different meanings and colors of the roses as follows:

  1. Yellow roses symbolize the monks and nuns putting on the saffron robes of the merit and deliverance, consider all the dharma realms of sentient beings as their parents, as their Bodhi Dharma friends and relatives.
  2. Red roses symbolize those who have enough both parents.
  3. Pink roses symbolize those who lose either father or mother.
  4. White rose symbolizes those who lose both parents.

No matter what color the roses bring when being pinned on our chests, remind us to know that when the parents are still in life, we live filially with the parents and when the parents pass away, we are aware to take care of the funeral for the parents in accordance correctly with the right Dharma. We are breaths, smiles, life, fresh flowers, and the good and happy continuation and inheritance for our parents. The parents are always in us. With the practice of right mindfulness and awareness, we can bring our parents to the future stably in this world. Therefore, we are aware clearly that we cannot separate our parents from us.

Today, the great celebration of Vu Lan – Parents’ Day reminds us to remember the gratitude and nurture of our parents. If we are far away from our parents, by the media today, we can make a call to our parents and ask them about their health. If we are near our parents, we often visit our parents when our parents are old and weak. Whether we are Buddhists or not Buddhists, whether we are religious or not religious people. When the Vu Lan – Parents’ Day comes back, we all remember the spirit of the filial Dharma, filial piety, good kindness, gratitude, drinking water to remember the source between us and people, between us and all living things and beings right here and right now in the present life.

Namo the Buddha Jewel, Dharma Jewel, and the Sangha Jewel being permanent in the Three Lifetimes and Ten Directions.

We wish you all to be dwelling in and imbued with the Dharma of the World-Honored One.

By Ven. Thích Trừng Sỹ

Thông Điệp Ngày Đại Lễ Vu Lan

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