yesterday (Dec 8th) was Bodhi Day, the day Mahayana Buddhists commemorate the enlightenment of the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, 2600 years ago. as the story goes, the Buddha was moved by the suffering he saw in life and felt upon seeing sickness, aging, and death. disenchanted with the excess from which he came, and the practice of extreme asceticism which he practiced for a time, he set out to meet life face to face as it is. practicing the middle way of neither aversion or grasping, he sat until he woke up. in waking up he became the Buddha, which simply means awakened or awakened one. meeting life with an open heart, with clarity and balance, he found freedom from suffering. my favorite part of the story is when Buddha is tested by the demon Mara who eventually challenges Siddhartha’s ability and right to enlightenment as a mere human. the story goes – after not succumbing to Mara’s temptations, Mara challenged Siddhartha, “What right have you to be enlightened? Who will speak for you, who will bear witness for you?” sitting beneath the Bodhi tree, Siddhartha reached out his right hand and touched the earth, and the earth itself shook saying, “I bear you witness!” this wasn’t just for the historical Buddha – it is for all buddhas, for you, for me. we too can wake up, we too have within us the ability to be with life as it is, to live open-hearted with clarity and balance, to be free and at peace. may it be so.~j
“I want to unfold. I don’t want to stay folded anywhere. Because where I am folded, there, I am a lie.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
this quote very well may sum up enlightenment or waking up, for me – to live authentically, to be in authentic relationship with the arising and passing life around us, to not fold up or close up in fear or anger, but to remain open – both heart and mind – courageously loving all that is suffering.
“Let go of the illusion of control.” ~ Master Oogway
To “let go” may be the greatest teaching and perhaps the most challenging. We find security in control, but it is only an illusion. All things in life arise and pass, all things are changing moment to moment. And control, like all things, is fleeting. Holding on to that which by its nature will change, trying to keep it from changing, brings us suffering. We are chained to a self-imagined outcome. We are not free. Life is not free. This can hurt us and those around us. Letting go, staying open, brings some peace to us and those around us.
I have a phrase I sometimes use when meditating. Breathing in I say in my mind, “May I hold all of life in love.” Breathing out I say in my mind, “And in love, may I let go…”
The great teacher Ajahn Chah has said, “If you let go a little, you will have a little happiness. If you let it go a lot, you will have a lot of happiness. If you let go completely, you will be free.”
Letting go should not be confused with inaction or indifference. Especially in a time of activism, as we are in now. We are still called forth by the suffering in the world, from our empathy and compassion, to tend to this life and those in it, to relieve and end suffering where we can. We do the good work, the kind work, but we do so not dependent on the outcome. We do so regardless of praise or blame. This can be really challenging in a culture such as ours, so driven on outcomes and a particular vision of “success.” Can we do good and kind work, simply because it is good and kind? Can we do good and kind work, knowing that we may not see fruition in our day, but we are perhaps planting seeds that may bring benefit in the days ahead?
so impressed with the multitudes marching yesterday. looking through the pictures i see so much to be inspired by.
a lot of love, passion, light and humor.
this is what democracy looks like.
and the continued persistence of this movement will be needed.
despite my critic friends, i would have loved to have seen the President do an about face and grow into this job, but many of us knew that wouldn’t happen and it hasn’t. i’ve been called out for not being fair and not carrying a neutral position. i disagree with that opinion. i firmly believe that a year in, any fair assessment continues to shed light on the consistent destructive nature of this Administration and Presidency. i believe it cuts through to the moral core of our hearts and the very fiber of our democracy. so being neutral in the face of such harm is not my path and not an option. i will continue to add my voice and my art mindfully and peacefully to #resist any actions that result in the degradation of our planet, any actions that target those on the margins and most vulnerable, and policies that deepen the divide of wealth in favor of the most elite. and i will continue to do so from a place of love and fierce compassion, calling out all forms of aggression and violence as best and consistently as i am able.
the road may be long, but it is well traveled by generations of open hearts before us who stood in the light with love, as they faced darkness.