Bodhi Day is the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment, also known as bodhi in Sanskrit and Pali. According to tradition, Siddhartha had recently forsaken years of extreme ascetic practices and resolved to sit under a peepal tree and simply meditate until he found the root of suffering, and how to liberate oneself from it.
Traditions vary on what happened. Some say Siddhartha made a great vow to Nirvana and Earth to find the root of suffering, or die trying. In other traditions, while meditating he was harassed and tempted by the god Mara (literally, “Destroyer” in Sanskrit), the demon of illusion. Other traditions simply state that he entered deeper and deeper states of meditation, confronting the nature of the self.
In the Pali Canon, there are several discourses said to be by Buddha himself, relating to this story. In The Longer Discourse to Saccaka (MN 36), the Buddha describes his Enlightenment in three stages:
During the first watch of the night, the Buddha discovered all of his past lives in the cycle of rebirth, realizing that he had been born and reborn countless times before.
During the second watch, the Buddha discovered the Law of Karma, and the importance of living by the Eightfold Path.
During the third watch, the Buddha discovered the Four Noble Truths, finally reaching Nirvana.
In his words:
“ My heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, was released from the fermentation of sensuality, released from the fermentation of becoming, released from the fermentation of ignorance. With release, there was the knowledge, ‘Released.’ I discerned that ‘Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.’”
All traditions agree that as the morning star rose in the sky in the early morning, the third watch of the night, Siddhartha finally found the answers he sought and became Enlightened, and experienced Nirvana. Having done so, Siddhartha now became a Buddha or “Awakened One”.
Bodhi Day is observed in many mainstream Mahayana traditions including the traditional Zen and Pureland Buddhist schools of China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. In Japanese Zen, it is also known as Rohatsu. In Tendai and other Japanese sects, it is called either Shaka-Jōdō-e (釈迦成道会?) or simply Jōdō-e (成道会?).
Services and traditions vary amongst Buddhist sects, but all such services commemorate the Buddha’s achievement of Nirvana, and what this means for Buddhism today. Individuals may choose to commemorate the event through additional meditation, the study of the Dharma, chanting of Buddhist texts (sutras) or performing kind acts towards other beings. Some Buddhists celebrate with a traditional meal of tea, cake, and readings.
The word Rōhatsu (臘八) is Japanese and literally, means 8th Day of the 12th Month. It is typical for Zen monks and layman followers to stay up the entire night before Rohatsu practicing meditation, and the holiday is often preceded by an intensive sesshin. It is observed on the Gregorian date of December 8 as a result of the Westernization of Japan during the Meiji Restoration (1862–1869).
Karma, when it comes down to it, is basically the simple process of cause and effect. Our suffering for the effect is a result of our attachments. We must not become blinded by what we have lost so much so that we forget what we still have. Sometimes our suffering leads to more bad Karma based on how we chose to react to said effects. Some times too we have to deal with OPK (Other People’s Karma), but we suffer less when we are prepared to lose everything, lesser still when we have little to begin with.
Gosh, it is very difficult talking to some vegans in a Buddhist group I follow lol. They are quite quick to insult others who do not readily agree with them and advocate abandoning right speech in favor of angrily making their points.
Why am I suddenly reminded of Kim Davis, the clerk who is willing to abandon one teaching and angrily cling to another?
Remember friends you cannot expect anger to be accepted with open arms, anger only brings up anger. When you insult others who do not agree with you, you only make them dig in further. Abandoning right speech will never work in your favor or keep you on the middle path.
“By doing this you are like a man who wants to hit another and picks up a burning ember or excrement in his hand and so first burns himself or makes himself stink.” Buddhaghosa -Visuddhimagga IX, 23.
Today I find myself pensively mulling over questions instead of coming to any answers. I will keep things brief in my explanation. I had a troubling experience online today with a perspective romantic partner. Needless to say things ended abruptly and in order to keep the peace and not fall into temptations I had to cut off communications. I cannot help but wonder if the reason for the ending of the relationship might have been do to fundamental differences.
When it comes down to it I really cannot know what other people are thinking, what is on their minds so like anyone else I have to take actions and words at face value. With that in mind I have been brought up, even before embracing Buddhism, to believe that violence solves little, and mostly serves to insight more violence, whether it is violent action, or violent speech. To that end I do my best to avoid using profane words because lets face it, they are called curse words for a reason. I wont go into the history of the curse word, but I am sure we are familiar with it being touched on very lightly and satirically in an episode of South Park.
Today’s incident had me thinking about the Dhammapada, especially the verses where the Buddha advises us that it is better to walk alone if one cannot find their equal, a quote I have shared before in previous posts, It has me pondering, as it were, if a practicing Buddhist can find a successful relationship with some one of a different faith. I do not want to argue the semantics on whether or not Buddhism is a philosophy or a faith, so I implore you, my readers, to ignore my syntax if you would be so kind!
I find myself asking if a relationship can be found that meets the following criteria:
- The understanding that Equality is not based on statistics. Equality is based on shared values, shared communication and shared self-respect. With full knowledge that One does not sacrifice himself, or herself, to the other.
- The acceptance that the only thing that ever stays the same is the fact that there is always constant change in the universe. Change must be embraced and explored, a relationship must be free to evolve with time, that it is commitment that keeps it alive.
- The realization that when obstacles do arise, not if, that they can only be overcome by honestly accepting our faults and mistakes and apologizing with sincerity, we practice compassion towards ourselves and others.
- The need to stay present, we all have our pasts, but if we continue to listen to our past stories in our minds we can never hope to rewrite the. Our freedom from past mistakes comes only by moving on not reliving them.
I do not know if there is an answer to this question, I suppose my experience is limited to the fact that I have never attempted a date with another Buddhist. Perhaps this is simply an issue of just not finding the right person rather than a shared faith, perhaps this is an issue only we westerners come across because there are so few of us Buddhists in our more remote areas.
I do not think I will glean the answer tonight despite meditation or study, but perhaps I am not meant to know just yet. I do hope however that the individual I had a conflict with does find the peace they are looking for, I do not wish them any animosity but I suppose I must continue to evolve myself spiritually to better prepare. Perhaps I am too sensitive towards anger yet.
Two monks sit before a spiritual man they have never heard before, he speaks what is in his heart, his motivations known only to himself. Some of what he says is similar to the Dharma, others not, his own journey along the path is still in progress.
When he is finished, one monk nods and smiles, contemplates what is said, and moves on with his day; forming not judgment or attachments to what has been told. He continues to serve all he sees and mediates on the teachings he knows to be true.
The second monk frowns and shakes his head, spending the rest of his day telling the spiritual man how he is wrong, then walks from village to village telling others not to listen to the spiritual man.
“What should we do about the evil natures Bhiksus?” Asked Ananda.
“Oh, that,” said The Buddha, “is very easy. You should be silent and they will go away. Don’t talk to them. After all aren’t they bad? aren’t they boisterous and disobedient? Ignore them. Don’t speak to them. They’ll become bored and leave on their own.”
Atman (self) and Anatman (no-self) depend upon one’s own philosophical interpretations of the Buddha’s teachings… The middle way is so called because it avoids the extremes of both absolutism and nihilism. -H.H. The Dalai Lama
Light is itself a duality, possessing qualities of both a particle and a wave, as such the self also exists and does not exist. We are an interdependent existence manifesting itself in a humanistic experience, for a short time.
As a rule, I generally only post what I practice, or at least what I strive to practice. I know I am not a perfect individual and I still struggle with the ego mind that acts as my own worst critic. Often, however, I have to “kill the Buddha I see in the mirror” as it were because I have turned my practice into an extension of my own ego. When ever it goes too far to the opposite tangent I tend to step back and pull away from sharing what I learn when I start to feel that I need to lead others, especially when I am lacking in my own practice. Namaste my friends!
A disciple once asked, “Master, what is the value of silence?” The master told the disciple, “ So long as the bee is outside the petals of the lotus, and has not tasted its honey, it hovers around the flower, emitting its buzzing sound; but when it is inside the flower, it drinks its nectar silently. If a man quarrels and disputes about doctrines and dogmas, he has not tasted the nectar of the Tao; when he has tasted it he becomes still.”
Very seldomly do I have any involvement with politics, but in this case I feel I will make an exception. There is a petition to the White House for US citizens to place pressure on China to free Tibet. I know it’s a saying that has gone on for quite a few generations. I also know that not everyone is Tibetan Buddhist. (I myself am a more broad term Buddhist) But I believe that all sentient life should be free from suffering, not just a select few the “free world” wants to exploit for resources.
So please if you live in the US and cold spare a minute, please sign this petition and share it with your friends! It has to reach over 150 signatures before it even becomes publicly listed in search results.
Speaking from my own views and thoughts, Buddhism is a faith based on individual experience and responsibilities, there for there is never one easy or simple answer. Instead the focus is not on what others think, but rather what the individual thinks.
Buddhism is also a community based faith, The Dalai Lama says it best when he says “I am but a simple Buddhist monk!” Everyone can be come enlightened and every person you meet can be your teacher. You are also solely responsible for your experience in this existence, you have to do the work.
Buddhism teaches us as we indulge our desires we increase our suffering and frustration with this existence.
But most importantly Buddhism is a faith based on getting out of your own self, and into the world around you, living your life not for yourself, but for your community. For Buddhism believes that true happiness is found not by living for your own benefit but for the benefit of others.
Here are but a few, enjoy!
I am a man, I do not wear pants down past my belt line, I am not in a prison yard expressing my willingness to find a mate. If I found a mate, I would hope that it would be for my mind and spirit not my bare buttock.
I am a man, I do not ware tight pants, instead I prefer a relaxed fit for the ample cargo pants carry do not need any more crushing or busting that life doesn’t already give .
I am a humble man, I do not need to drive an ego extension, I drive a simple quite humble car that is smooth and comfortable to ride in.
I am a poor man, I do not afford the luxuries, nor do I wish to waste my parents money on revving my engine needlessly or rapidly accelerating down the road, for all cargo in all vehicles is precious and so is the joy my family gets for being able to afford family outings.
I am a straight man, I know I apologize that fact, for like you, I was born the way I am, I will not try to convert you, I will not put down your gender or orientation, I will not force my body, or my views on anyone, for we all deserve to find our own happiness in this life.
I am a man, I know it is ok to feel, to find passions, to love, and to sometimes cry.
I am an adequate man, I do not feel the need to bring you down to build myself up.
I am a wise man, I know that my truths are not your truths, and so I say Namaste!