November 4th marks an auspicious day (duchen) in Buddhism called Lhabab Duchen, which celebrates Shakyamuni Buddha’s return and descent to earth from the heaven Trayastrimsha. In this post, we will explore the significance of this event, why we celebrate it and how we remember the occasion.
Lhabab Duchen: Background
It is believed that, at the age of 41, the Buddha voluntarily decided to teach the Dharma to the devas in the highest desire realm (kamadhatu) of suffering. This meant leaving the human realm as, though also subject to samsara, the devas are in the second of the six desire realms, whereas humans are in the fourth.
The nature of suffering and samsara in the realm of the devas occurs from their attachment to bliss. The devas are so absorbed in bliss that they have no intent to free themselves from the cycle of birth and death or become enlightened.
The Buddha in Trayastrimsha
Upon arriving in Trayastrimsha, the Buddha’s mother, Mayadevi, came down from Tushita, another desire realm of the devas she was reborn in, to receive the teachings. The wisdom that the Buddha gave, not just to his mother but all the devas, is known as the Abhidharma (“higher Dharma or teachings”).
On earth, people were in despair and in longing as they could not ascend to Trayastrimsha heaven to see and pay their respects to the Buddha. They asked one of the Buddha’s disciples, Maudgalyayana, to approach the Buddha on their behalf and tell him they wished to see him and for him to return to earth out of compassion for them.
Buddha’s return to Earth and the significance of Lhabab Duchen
When, through deep concentration, Maudgalyayana, Buddha’s disciples, reached Trayastrimsha heaven and relayed the message to the Buddha, he agreed to return. Seven days later, he descended to Earth on a triple ladder made of beryl, gold and silver constructed by the chief architect of the devas, Vishvakarma.
It is the compassionate act of the Buddha’s return to Earth, which is celebrated and commemorated on Lhabab Duchen. It helps us remember the accomplishments of the Buddha and feel closer to him. Buddha’s descent to Earth signifies his accessibility, returning to our world and continuing to spread the Dharma here rather than in the higher realms.
The day is also especially auspicious because the merit from our actions is multiplied by 100 million times. Whether helping others, praying, chanting, worshipping, meditating or making offerings, the Buddha’s descent inspires us to uphold the Dharma in all that we do with the same spirit of compassion with which he returned to us.
Celebrating at Jamyang London the Lord Buddha’s Descent from God Realm
we annually celebrate Lhabab Düchen at Jamyang London Buddhist Centre, with the resident teacher Geshe Namdak.
This year, reserve your spot to celebrate with us and Geshe Namdak on 4 November 2023 to practice virtue and accumulate merit during this auspicious occasion.
As a merit multiplying day, the karmic results of actions done on this day are multiplied 100 million times!
Author: Lewis Gwilt