Bodhi Day, Rohatsu, or Waking Up

Beliefnet Buddhism contributor Britton Gildersleeve gives personal insight into Rohatsu.

BY: Britton Gildersleeve

 

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I believe in the day I drove into honeyed golden light -- it might have been November -- and drank in the air and the blue Oklahoma sky and thought: this is enough. This moment, this light ~ it's enough. Or the night when I listened to my heart breaking, felt it fall to pieces for my mother's old age, and realised: we are all this fearful. And in the ragged breathing for all of us, I was comforted. Or the moment I held my aging mother-in-law in a tight hug, and inhaled deeply, grateful for the material presence of her fragile, birdbone body. You're still here. Dimming mind does not shadow bright heart.

None of these is enlightenment, not by a long shot. They're each only a tiny glimpse along a journey full of detours (my anger at injustice, my frustration with my own impatience), a path strewn with obstacles my vanities, my prides. A life lived with a fallible human heart.

And the point to Bodhi Day?It celebrates possibility. Ours. Because a guy named Siddhartha achieved enlightenment, we know it's possible. Because he laid out some fairly simple suggestions life is transient/ desire is suffering/ compassion is the way we can live better lives. Become better people. Leave this world better for our having breathed into it.

I'm so far from anything other than tiny glimpses of possibility that I'm profoundly grateful for Bodhi Day. For the knowledge that someone else managed to get it together. That he thought some of us might be able to, as well. And Bodhi Day is like a promise to a child (at least for me): when you grow up? Things will be different. You'll make it. I promise.

Happy Bodhi Day. Happy Rohatsu, if you're in the Zen tradition. Happy Possibility.

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