Once upon a time, there was a poor and destitute woman. Her name was Nanta and she wished to offer something for Buddha. But, she was so poor that she could not serve Buddha. In spite of little money in her hand, she gave a lantern with her true heart. Her lantern was small and plain, however, it was shining brighter than anyone else's and it lasted a long time, despite the strong wind which blew the other people’s lanterns away.
The Lotus Lantern Festival’s history can be traced back to Nanta. The history of the lotus lantern goes back to the time of Buddha. Since then, every year around Buddha’s birthday, all Buddhists lighten lotus lanterns and take part in lantern festivals. Again in this year, lotus lanterns shined on the road. On May 20, there was the Lotus Lantern Festival. To greet Buddha coming to us, many people paraded holding a shining lotus lantern from Dongdaemun Stadium to Jongno. Hundreds and thousands of lanterns remind people of the wisdom which removes the suffering-ridden nature of existence and find Buddha’s nature in their own bodies. The lantern means enlightenment on this mundane world and it has been the symbol of wisdom. Specifically, the lotus symbolizes a pure truth not contaminated at all, even though it grows in dirty pond. Therefore, shining the lotus lanterns has a meaning to deliver the compassion for other living beings to the world and to realize Buddha’s dharma.
Buddha taught that all sentient beings are originally enlightened and would be reborn as Buddha in the future. I am a Buddha and you are also a Buddha. Buddha’s birthday is our birthday too. Crawling insects, flying birds, even floating clouds, all of us share a birthday.
I bowed with my hands clasped and threw my eyes upon a lotus lantern in celebration of Buddha. Seeing the lanterns, I learned the love for others and for myself to be innate Buddha’s nature. When everyone knows Buddha’s heart, a lotus in each one’s mind would bloom throughout the world.