Over 2500 years ago, deeply moved by the suffering he saw in life (sickness, aging, and death), disenchanted with the excess from which he came, and the practice of extreme ascetism, the historical Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) set out to meet life face to face, as it is. He sat until he woke up. And in waking up he became the Buddha, which means awakened or awakened one. Seeing the middle way – not running away from or grasping at life, rather meeting life with an open heart – he found freedom from suffering.
Today, December 8th, we Buddhists commemorate the Buddha’s awakening under the Bodhi Tree, as Bodhi Day. A day to remember the event, but to also be reminded that we too can wake up, we too have within us the ability to be with life as it is, to be free and at peace.
This morning I practiced, I sat and meditated, and then painted this “wake up” enso to honor not just this one man who decided to sit beneath a tree and meet life authentically with an open heart, but to honor all who sit, all who practice, all who meet this passing life with all of its beauty and heartbreak with an open heart.
May we all wake up to the preciousness of this life, may empathy and compassion be born from our open hearts, to light the world with our love.