Buddhist Council of Canada: Activities

Click Here to view our request to be allowed to display a Buddhist symbol (variable) on the South Lawn of Queen's Park for 7 days, honoring the 7 weeks the Buddha spent under the Bodhi Tree (under which He attained Enlightenment).

WESAK 2012

(Buddha’s Birth, Enlightenment & Parinibbàna)

32nd year of celebration in Toronto

Saturday, May 05 (2012)
6 pm to 8 pm
Queen’s Park Grounds

Sponsored by the
Buddhist Council of Canada

The Significance of Wesak
Perhaps the best known date on the Buddhist calendar, familiar to even non-Buddhists, is the thrice sacred day of Wesak, now with formal recognition by the UN. Wesak (< Pali Vcsakha; Sanskrit Vaishaka), drawn from the ancient Indian calendar, usually falls in May, although sometimes in late April, or extending to early June. In some countries it is also known as Buddha Day. Wesak Day holds special significance for the millions of Buddhists who comprise a fifth of the world's total population.
Wesak in Canada
First held in 1981, the annual joint Wesak celebration, now in its 33rd year (with gaps in between), continues to prove itself the most public expression of intra-Buddhist communication. Initially organized by the Buddhist Federation of Toronto (formerly Toronto Buddhist Federation), it has, over the years, come to be organized by the Buddhist Council of Canada, the Buddhist Communities of Greater Toronto, the Sangha Council of Southern Ontario and Nalanda College of Buddhist Studies (Canada). Now, it comes to be celebrated by the newly revived Buddhist Council of Canada.
A Thrice Sacred Day
On Wesak Day, Buddhists all over the world commemorate three great events: Birth, Enlightenment, and Final Passing Away (Uppatti, Samma sambodhi and Parinibbana) of Gautama the Buddha. As Buddhism spread from India to all parts of the world, the Teachings were readily assimilated into the cultural fabric of the peoples accepting the teachings. As a result, Buddhist art and culture took on a rich variety of forms but always embodying profound gentleness and kindness, the Buddha expressly eschewing violence. The practice of Buddhism was adapted in many ways to suit the nature, customs and traditions of the various cultures that accepted it.
Wesak is thus celebrated in many different ways around the world, though the essence of the practice remains quite universal. Customarily, this sacred day is purely and simply a religious festival and not traditionally a festive occasion. On this day, Buddhists reaffirm their faith in the Buddha and His Teachings, the Dhamma, and renew their commitment to lead the moral life, as minimally outlined in the Five Training Principles (aka Precepts). It is a day for meditation and radiating Loving-Kindness. For the purposes of our annual Canadian joint celebration, it has further become a joyous social occasion for our many communities.

For the history of Wesak, see Turpie, David, “Wesak And The Re-Creation of Buddhist Tradition”, Master's Thesis. http://www.slideshare.net/anthony_morgan/wesak-8648925

 “Roll the Dharma Wheel”

Words by: Bhante Punnaji
Sung by: Brent Titcombe

Buddha with his chief disciple
Sariputra Great 
And all the saints who came
Rolled the Dharma Wheel. 
So let's roll the Wheel 
Beat the Deathless Drum. 
Let us all Buddhists unite 
To roll the Dharma Wheel. 


Roll along, Roll along 
Roll the Dharma Wheel. 
Let us all Buddhists unite
To roll the Dharma Wheel! 

(continued >)

Ethnic pride and prejudice
Is what divides Buddhists.
Rituals and Dogmas, too 
Divide Buddhists to sects. 
True Buddhists give up
Pride and prejudice.
Let us all Buddhists unite 
To roll the Dharma Wheel! 


The Noble Life that Buddha taught
Is free from greed and hate 
If we live this life enlightened
The world will live in peace.  
So let's roll the Dharma Wheel
Beat the Deathless Drum. 
Let us all Buddhists unite 
To roll the Dharma Wheel!


                 WESAK  2012                 
Buddhist Council of Canada  
Saturday, May 05th, 2012,  6 pm -8 pm
Queen’s Park, Ontario Legislature Grounds
Buddha Påjà

01. Processional

02. Buddhist Unity Song


  Opening Homage
Homage to the Buddha
     Three Refuges
     Five Precepts
Bhante Ahangama Rathanasiri
Toronto Mahavihara

  Offerings to the Buddha
     - Flowers / Liquid

Bhante U Kawwida
Mahadhammika Temple,To.
  Bathing of the Baby Buddha
     + Chanting
Thich nu Tinh Quang
Little Heron  Zen Hermitage,

  Amitabha Sutra (Chanting) Yang Zhang
Prajna Temple, Markham
  Heart of Perfect Wisdom Sutra
Sensei Taigen Henderson
Toronto Zen Centre
  Buddha's Golden Chain of Love Thich Nu Tinh Quang
  Four Vows Sensei Taigen Henderson
  Transference of Merit Ven. Abhipasanno
Buddh Vihar (Dr AmbedkarCtr)

04.   Recessional / Circumbulation

05.   Refreshments Buddhist Community


BUDDHA PæJâ (Details)

Homage to the Buddha (Repeat three times)

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammaa sambuddhassa.
Homage to the Exalted One, the Worthy One, the Perfectly Enlightened One.

The Three Refuges

Buddham saranam gacchaami.
Dhammam saranam gacchaami.
Sangham saranam gacchaami.
(Repeat three times)

I take refuge in the Buddha.
I take refuge in the Dhamma.
I take refuge in the Sangha.

The Five Training Principles

I take up the training principle of refraining from harming life.
I take up the training principle of refraining from taking what is not given.
I take up the training principle of refraining from falsehood.
I take up the training principle of refraining from sensual misconduct.
I take up the training principle of refraining from taking intoxicants
            that lead to mental confusion.

Offerings to the Buddha


With these flowers I pay homage to the Buddha
By this merit may there be liberation!
These flowers wither away;          
Likewise this body goes to decay. 

I offer these flowers to the Buddha
Supreme Lord of the World.
By this meritorious act
May I be free from
                   the odour of immorality.



May you partake of this, Sir,
The water respectfully offered.
Out of compassion,
May it be accepted.

I offer this  water  to the Buddha
Supreme Lord of the World
By this meritorious act
May I be free from the thirst  of craving.


The Heart of Perfect Wisdom Sutra

The Bodhisattva of Compassion,
from the depths of prajna wisdom
saw the emptiness of all five skandhas
and sundered the bonds that
caused him suffering.

Know then -

Form here is only emptiness,
emptiness only form.
Form is no other than emptiness,
emptiness no other than form.

Feeling, thought, and choice,
consciousness itself,
are the same as this.

Dharmas here are empty,
all are the primal void.
None are born or die.
Nor are they stained or pure.
Nor do they wax or wane.

So in emptiness no form,
no feeling, thought, or choice,
nor is there consciousness.      

No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind;
no colour, sound, smell, taste, touch,
or what the mind takes hold of,
nor even the act of sensing.

                        (continued >)

No ignorance or end of it,
nor all that comes of ignorance:
no withering, no death, no end of them.

Nor is there pain or cause of pain
or cease in pain or noble path
to lead from pain,
not even wisdom to attain;
attainment too is emptiness.

So know that the bodhisattva
holding to nothing whatever
but dwelling in prajna wisdom
is freed of delusive hindrance,
rid of the fear bred by it,
and reaches clearest nirvana.

All Buddhas of past and present,
Buddhas of future time,
through faith in prajna wisdom
come to full Enlightenment.

Know then, the great dharani,
the radiant, peerless mantra,
the supreme, unfailing mantra,
the Prajna Paramita,
whose words allay all pain.
This is highest wisdom
true beyond all doubt;
know and proclaim its truth -

Gate gate,
para gate
para samgate
bodhi svaha.


Buddha's Golden Chain of Love

I am a link in Lord Buddha's  
           golden chain of love
that stretches around the world.
I must keep my link bright & strong.
I will be kind and gentle to 
          every living thing,
and protect all those who are
         weaker than myself.


I will think pure and beautiful thoughts,
and do pure and beautiful deeds,
knowing that on what I do now depends
not only my happiness but also that of
May every link in Lord Buddha's golden
         chain of love
become bright and strong,
and may we all attain the Perfect Peace.


The Four Vows

All beings, without number, I vow to liberate.
Endless blind passions I vow to uproot.
Dharma gates beyond measure I vow to penetrate.
The Great Way of Buddha I vow to attain.

Transference of Merit

 May this merit accrue to my relatives
May my relatives be happy!

To the extent of merit gained by us
May they accrue to all shining ones,
to all sentient beings, >>>

 to all others in nature
Towards their total happiness!

By this meritorious deed
May I not have bad company
May I have good company
Until I attain Nibbana.


Pleading Forgiveness

For any misdeeds in body, word or mind,
done by me through negligence
May I be forgiven, Oh, the Greatly Wise Tathagatha.

Recessional Circumbulation (padakkhinà)
Devotees go round the Buddha, with their right shoulder in, palms in front of the chest, saying the words saadhu saadhu saadhu, and / or the paritta: Mahamangala, Metta.


Birth of a Noble Prince
The Buddha is an Indian Prince who forsook the pleasures of a royal household to find a way of ending suffering for himself, later sharing His discoveries with others, bringing peace and happiness to the entire world. The Buddha (meaning ‘Enlightened One’) was born in 483 BCE, over 2500 years ago, on the Wesak full moon day. The young Prince of the clan of Gautama was named Siddhartha, meaning ‘wish-fulfilled’. His parents, King Suddhodana and Queen Mahamaya, ruled a small kingdom called Kapilavastu, now Northern India and Nepal.

A Prince of Superior Wisdom and Compassion
Siddhartha Gautama was provided with all the worldly comforts that could be provided in a royal palace. His parents shielded him from the harsh realities of the outside world. He excelled in sports and showed a very superior intelligence, but was not satisfied with such fleeting pleasures.

One day, as tradition has it, when he was outside the palace gates, he sighted an old man bent with age, a sick man and a corpse. The young Prince was horrified when he learnt that the human body which was so well cared for in youth could be subjected to the ravages of age, disease and death. He started to contemplate deeply and was determined to seek a remedy for such sufferings.

The Prince also saw an ascetic, dressed in simple clothes but glowing with inner peace. He was deeply impressed by the sense of happiness and calm that the ascetic radiated.

Upon his return to the palace, the young Siddhartha, then aged 29, decided that He would give up all the riches and power to which He was heir and seek answers to the questions that troubled Him. What was the cause of human suffering - dukkha? What was the path of happiness?

He went to many teachers, but great meditators as they were, they could not help Him gain the liberation He was searching. So He decided to seek out the path on his own.

The struggle for realization of the truth took Him six long years. One of the lessons he learned half-way down this experience was to seek the Middle Path, that is, not going to extremes - neither indulging in worldly pleasures nor subjecting to extreme austerities. In this conviction would He continued to meditate for the next while.

Buddha's Enlightenment
Finally, on the 35th anniversary of his birth, again on the full moon day of Wesak, and seated under the Bodhi tree in Bodh-Gaya, the seeking Siddhartha became the Buddha, the Fully Enlightened One*. For the next forty-five years, the Buddha traveled around Northern India preaching His message of Wisdom and Compassion, and Loving-Kindness for all beings.

The Buddha's Parinibbana ‘Passing Away’
As with all other great religious teachers, the Buddha found opposition to His teaching. But many saw the truth of His teachings and followed Him, learning how to lead a life to free themselves from the chains of existence of the cycle of life, i.e., samsàra. Finally, after forty-five years, lying under two beautiful sala trees, before a large assembly of monks, the Buddha passed away at Kusinara. This passing away is known as Mahàparinibbàna ‘the Great Passing Away’, never to be born again, having cut off the thirsts that keep sentient beings in samsàra. This great event also occurred on the full moon day of Wesak.

The Buddhist Era begins from the Mahàparinibbàna of the Buddha.

* See next 2 pages for a Chart that shows Samana Gautama becoming the Buddha (excerpted from Sugunasiri, Rebirth as Empirical Basis for the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths, 2009, Sumeru_Books).

Buddhist Council of Canada

The Buddhist Council of Canada emerged in the mid-eighties as an outgrowth of the Buddhist Federation of Toronto, formed in 1980, when several Buddhist groups came together to take part in a multfaith service for peace. Characteristically, then as is true now, this pioneering group included representatives from all three major schools - Adiyana, Mahayana and Vajrayana schools.

After the service, the interest was expressed to form an ongoing association and thus, after addressing the structural issues through the development of a constitution and so on, in 1982 the Buddhist Federation of Toronto was born. The Federation's broad objectives (still true today) were to promote the teaching of the Buddha Dharma according to the various schools and traditions, and to facilitate co-operation among, between and beyond the varied Buddhist communities found in the Greater Toronto area.

The change of name of the group to Buddhist Communities of Greater Toronto (BCGT) can be said to be a reflection of this. As the years progressed, relationships have come to evolve among area temples, groups and individuals to our shared benefit. Such mutually beneficial sharing is further characterized by the ongoing development of the social service arm of the BCGT known as Karuna Community Services. This "inter-denominational" co-operative commitment has therefore grown well beyond the annual Wesak celebration, including as well activities such as the production of television programs aired on the Metro Toronto Cable 10 system. An important additional element of the ongoing efforts is the support offered in the area of healthy interfaith sharing and discussion, through vehicles such as the BCGT quarterly newsletter, SUMERU, to help ensure open lines.

The Buddhist Council of Canada emerged out of the Buddhist Federation of Toronto in the mid 1980’s when national level Buddhist representation was called for in helping set-up Vision TV. This itself had been in response to a call by the Canadian Radio and Telecommunication Commission to set up a national level Religious TV station.

After a vibrant few years, the Buddhist Council of Canada had come to be dormant for over a quarter of a century. Revived in 2010, its primary activity has come to be the holding of Wesak at the Ontario Legislature grounds at Queen’s Park. This was an event initiated by Nalanda College of Buddhist Studies (Canada) in 2005, in commemoration of 100 Years of Buddhism in Canada, when the Buddhist flag came to be raised on public property for the first time anywhere in Canada. In 2011, the flag came to be replaced by a Torana (8 X 4) showing the face of the Buddha, and the words, “Buddha’s Birth, Enlightenment and Parinibbana”.

For the history of the Buddhist Council of Canada, see
Sumeru_Books, “Buddhism in Canada / Definitive History”

Buddhist Council of Canada
3 Ardmore Rd,
Toronto, ON M5P 1V4,

Board Members

Phone:   416 487 2777          Prof. Suwanda H J Sugunasiri (President)
              416 923 9409          Bryan Levman (Secretary )
              416 766 3400          Sensei Taigen Henderson (Board Member)
              905 575 5976          Thich nu Tinh Quang (Board Member)


The holding of Wesak on the South Lawn of Queen's Park at the Ontario Legislature rely extensively upon the commitment of time, energy and effort by the participating  Temples,  and individuals. The Buddhist Council of Canada   would like to take this opportunity to thank all those individuals and groups without whose support and involvement this event  could not have taken place.

So our veneration to Bhante Ahangama Rathanasiri of the Toronto Mahavihara, Bhante U Kawwida of the Mahadhammika (Burmese) Temple and to Bhante Abhipasanno of the Buddh Vihar of the Ambedkar Centre for their leadership.

In addition to the Sangha members of our own Board (see page 13), thanks are also due to the Hon. Karunaratna Paranavitana, Consul General of the Consulte of Sri Lanka in Toronto, for not only his  encouragement of our Wesak activity but also by providing refreshments. Charles Lee and Yang Zhang of Prajna Temple and Usha Seer of Buddh Vihar, Ambedkar Centre deserve our thanks for facilitating the participation of their respective temples. And thanks   to Rosie Levman for valuable background help.

To Tai, Jonathan and Johnny of  JT Printing go our thanks for all the printing work done quickly and efficiently. We thank the Trillium Gift of Life Network for their literature.

Finally, we would like to thank the Ontario Legislature for accommodating our request, and its Security  Division for their cooperation in holding the event.   

In Metta!

Buddhist Council of Canada


Sakyadhita Canada

Association of Buddhist Women

Sakyadhita Canada Association of Buddhist Women
7 Bent Tree Place
Calgary, AB
T3Z 3A3
Contact: Jayanta (Shirley Johannesen)
Activities: We are a registered Charitable Association (wth RCA) and plan activities throughout Canada to connect and support those on the path of Dhamma.
Associated with: Sakyadhita International



  • To enable every Ontario resident to make an informed decision to donate organs and tissue, and to support healthcare professionals in implementing their wishes
  • To maximize organ and tissue donation in Ontario in a respectful and equitable manner through education, research, services and support.


  • To be a world-class leader that enhances and saves lives through organ and tissue donation for transplantation.


  • We are an effective, innovative leader in organ and tissuedonation. We work in an environment of honesty, trust, respect, compassion and cooperation.  


Ever considered organ donation for transplantation?

Or your whole body for medical research?
“Then, as the very last citta, the death consciousness arises performing the function of passing away from the present life. With the ceasing of death consciousness, the life faculty is cut off. Then the body remains a mass of inanimate material phenomena born of temperature, and continues as such until the corpse is reduced to dust.” (Bhikkhu Bodhi,  Ed., A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, 1993, p. 223).

Lovingkindness (mettà), compassion (karunà), impermanence (anicca) and the reality of ‘asoulity’ (anatta) all encourage us to consider it. We invite you to register your consent at BeADonor.ca, keeping  your family informed.

May the merits accrued to you guide you to Nibbana!