Vesak Day - Commemorating the Birth, Enlightenment and Death of the Buddha.
Every year, temples in St. Louis have Vesak celebrations for their congregations, but there is also a large gathering, sponsored by the Greater St. Louis Buddhist Council, that brings devotees from all Buddhist traditions together to celebrate.
Only two of the local temples are large enough to accommodate the crowd, so each year the location alternates between them. This year, it was held at Fo Guang Shan's St. Louis Buddhist Center, and included monastics from Thai, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese temples.
The morning started with "Bathing the Buddha", a Vesak ritual meant to purify the mind.
The first talk was given by Don "shu-shu", one of the teachers at the Mid-America Buddhist Association (Chan tradition), about the Chan story "Finger Pointing at the Moon."
After the first talk was a 15 mins break, so people could walk around & chat.
The second speaker, Ven. Daigaku Rumme, is a priest from the new Confluence Zen Community (Soto Zen tradition) in St. Louis, and gave a talk about the Three Dharma Seals. He joked that, in previous years, they would have 3 or 4 Dharma talks by different teachers; one or two before lunch, and one or two after lunch. But 2/3 of the people would leave after lunch. This year, they only had two talks in the morning, so people could listen to the talks BEFORE they had lunch!
After the Dharma talks and dedicating the merit, FOOD! A vegetarian buffet.
Steve's sister was in town, and decided to join us when "vegetarian lunch" was mentioned. :-)