Saga Dawa, the Sacred Month of Merit

“Throughout my life, until this very moment, whatever virtue I have accomplished, I dedicate to the welfare of all beings. May the roots of suffering diminish. May warfare, violence, neglect, indifference, and addiction also decrease. May the wisdom and compassion of all beings increase, now and in the future. May we clearly see all the barriers we erect between ourselves and others be as insubstantial as our dreams. May we appreciate the great perfection of all phenomena. May we continue to open our hearts and minds, in order to work ceaselessly for the benefit of all beings. May we go to the places that scare us. May we lead the life of a warrior.” ~Pema Chodron – “Go to Places that Scare You”~

Saga Dawa is the most holy month of the year for Tibetan Buddhists. During this very special time, meritorious action is multiplied 100,000 times, so positive actions are especially powerful.

Tuesday, May 31st, starts the sacred time of Saga Dawa, which is called the “month of merits” for Tibetan Buddhist practitioners.

The Tibetan calendar is lunar, so in the West it’s not exactly the same time every year. This year, 2022, it falls mostly within the month of June.

Saga Dawa starts on May 31st and ends on June 29th this year.

Dawa means “month” in Tibetan, and “Saga” or “Saka” is the name of a star prominent in the sky during the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar when Saga Dawa is observed.

Many important events are said to have happened during this month including the birth of the Buddha, the Buddha’s Enlightenment, and the Buddha’s death. Because these great events are said to have happened during this month, Buddhists throughout the world celebrate by recalling the kindness of the Buddha and making extra efforts to practice generosity, virtue, and compassion. This is also a good occasion to light some extra incense, recite some extra prayers to thank the Buddha for coming to this world, and to do some extra meditation.

The Merit Power of This Enlightened Month

Saga Dawa is the Month of Buddha Shakyamuni’s Birth, Enlightenment, and Parinirvana.

During this auspicious month, the power of positive and negative intentions and actions increases one billion (1,000,000,000) times or more. Thus, we encourage all virtuous beings to practice Dharma and engage in virtuous activities every day for the whole month.

This is a month especially dedicated to “making merit.” Any practice, offering, and positive action taken during this time is multiplied and offered to all beings.

What is Merit?

From the Teachings of Lama Tsultrim Allione – “The word for merit in Tibetan is SONAM. Merit is an interesting subject and is unique to Buddhism. The idea of merit in the teachings is that every action creates a result of some kind. A positive action creates a positive accumulation in the mindstream of an individual. It is like when you give someone a gift, you see the response to the present, and there is a feeling inside. You might think, “Oh, I did something good. I was able to help or make a difference.” We can feel in our system somethng positive accumulating, a positive result from our action. That’s what MERIT is.”

“When you offer kindness, patience, generosity, meditation or when you do anything positive . . . you accumulate merit. This causes the veils of obscuration that covers our true condition to part. It is almost like washing our obscurations away.”

If we see ourselves as mindstreams occupying this body right now, all these positive actions, these impressions of those positive and karmic traces remain in the mindstream. They lead to more positive actions, which we emphasize in our practice.”

“Merit creates the interdependence with your practice so your mind does clear and you can see the true condition of the nature of mind.”

Please check our Calendar page for examples of our practices and teachings during this sacred month!

2 thoughts on “Saga Dawa, the Sacred Month of Merit”

  1. Thanks for this different way of looking at merit. I’ve always thought of merit as a thing. Something we get or give. Thinking of it as a stream of energy changes the view.

    1. Ellen Booth Church

      Thank you Martha. Yes, I too find it interesting to look at merit in many different ways. The concept of an “energy stream” is so essential to the Tibetan Buddhist teachings.

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