With all of the fuss and political correctness about what to call or say at this time of year, those of us on the Dharma path can remember that our important date occurs early in December, usually around the 8th. Bodhi Day celebrates the enlightenment of our historical founder, Shakyamuni Buddha, some 2500 years ago. It is an important date all over East Asia, a key celebration on the Buddhist calendar.
In many countries Bodhi Day or, as we in the Tendai tradition call it, Jodo-e, includes marking the event with coloured lights and candles. This provides us with an opportunity to re-interpret some of the familiar Western/Christian celebration traditions in a way which speaks to us. We can likewise display such lights, and understand them as symbols of the moon and morning star which figure so prominently in the Buddha’s awakening narrative.
It is crucial for us to find such ways to make our faith resonate with our present context. We ought not merely imitate what happens in Japan or Korea, as if this is the correct way. All symbolic activity arises from what speaks to practitioners in our own time and place.
May this Jodo-e period remind all of us of the remarkable event of the Buddha’s awakening and call us to find ways to make that present in and through our daily lives.
Yours in the Dharma,
om namo amida butsu
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