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.
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.
aware that the history behind “Thanksgiving” is really not something to be thankful for, especially for the indigenous American community, I instead like to call this day “Gratitude Day”…which is worthy of celebration, and available everyday.
there is so much to be grateful for.
I am grateful for family and friends both near and far. …
I am grateful for my practice, the stillness within the chaos.
I am grateful for nature, so humble and present just by Being, pointing us to the inherent beauty of all things.
I am grateful for empathy and compassion, which break down walls and borders, both from the outside and from within our own making.
I am even grateful for the darkness, which provokes and challenges our light from within to come forth.
may it come forth.
may the gift of gratitude, the practice of gratitude, expand our ever opening hearts to a world in need. may we journey forward in that love, together.
grateful for you all. may you be happy, may you have peace, may you be free from suffering.
#repost from last year of my art and some thoughts that still seem appropriate today, in honor of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday anniversary:
The law of love governs the world. Life persists in the face of death. The universe continues in spite of destruction going on. Truth triumphs over untruth. Love conquers hate.
~ Mahatma Gandhi
I believe this to be true.
But I also believe love and life itself call on us to engage and perhaps even depend on our participation.
Nothing, No Thing, can be taken for granted.
There are times when silence just isn’t an option.
Speak and act in solidarity. With nonaggression, with nonviolence, yes. But also with inexhaustible, fierce, formidable compassion and commitment to justice and equality.