Heedfulness Is the Path
June 02, 2004

Tonight is Visakha Puja, the night that marks the full moon day in the month of Visakha, which straddles May and June. The Buddha was born on the full moon day in Visakha, and thirty five years later on the same night he gained awakening, and forty five years after that on the same night he passed away into total nirvana. So we’re commemorating a lot of events tonight, and there are a lot of things to keep in mind in connection with those events. But one very useful teaching connected with them comes from the Buddha’s last words before he passed away: “Obtain completion in the practice through heedfulness.” He could have ended his teaching career with some nice platitudes about emptiness or nirvana, but instead he emphasized heedfulness as the essence of the practice, the most essential part of the practice. When you look back through the Canon, you find many places where he said that heedfulness is the quality that underlies all the other skillful qualities you develop in the mind.