“WHAT! Spend the first day of Chinese New Year away from family and friends? You must be crazy!” – That would be the normal response of most Chinese. There is, however, a growing trend among Chinese Buddhist to participate in spiritual cultivation activities on the first and fifteen day of the lunar month; more so on the first day of the Lunar New Year!
On the First Day of Chinese New Year (29 January 2006), about two hundred and fifty devotees turned up at the Multi-Purpose Hall for a One Day Retreat from 9.00am in the morning till 6.00pm in the evening. The cultivation activities included Buddha Name Recitation, circumambulation (walking meditation), and meditation. At noon, they partook of the noon meal offering and then it was back to more Buddha Name Recitation and meditation.
In the evening, Venerable Wei Wu gave earnest advice to the assembly to be constantly mindful, wholeheartedly take refuge in the Amitabha Buddha of the Western Paradise and seek rebirth in the Pure Land. Amitabha Buddha vowed that should any sentient being, who wished to be reborn in His land, failed to be reborn there then He would not attained Supreme Enlightenment.
By virtue of this mindfulness of the Buddha, we should strive to eradicate all iniquities and increase our wholesome deeds so that when approaching life's end, our mind would not harbour any attachments, our senses would not yield any confusion and we would remain calm and serene and be reborn in the Western Paradise.
In the Western Paradise we would be in the presence of Amitabha Buddha, hear the Dharma, understand the Buddha's Teachings with penetrative wisdom, and help all other sentient beings achieve Buddhahood. In the Western Paradise, the journey towards enlightenment would be smooth and inevitable as not only is the environment conducive to the attainment of enlightenment but we would have the company of countless Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Therefore by reciting Amitabha Buddha's name, Pure Land practitioners hope that they will be born in this Pure Land after their lives on earth.