Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters


Bodhi Day :: December 8 A Day for Awakening

posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak

Thumbnail image for buddha_studio_1.jpgToday is 8 December and Bodhi is being observed around the world. It marks the day of Siddhartha Guatama’s enlightenment sitting under the pipal tree in what is now Bodhgaya India. This event occurred somewhere between 527 BCE and 444 BCE.

In the Zen traditions, today marks the end of the Rohatsu Sesshin (retreat) that begins on 1 December. What better way to commemorate the Buddha’s attainment than reproducing it yourself!
What happened under that tree was the culmination of approximately seven years of concentrated effort and the resolution of thirty six years of unhappiness. When Siddhartha rose from his spot under the tree he became the Buddha — the enlightened one or the awakened one.
Of course, these are two different images — enlightenment and awakening, and as Stephen Batchelor points out carry very different metaphorical connotations. Enlightenment suggests turning the lights on — illuminating what was previously dark. You might imagine the heavens opening and a arc of sunlight emerging from the clouds accompanied by trumpets and harps heralding the emergence of a profound and irrevocable way of being. Awakening is more ordinary, we do it everyday. And as we do in our life, we go into and out of sleep. If we pursue the path the Buddha laid out, we, too, will go into and out of sleep. At times we will awaken, if only for a moment. Here is how Batchelor describes it:
Now
you see, I think all of this is implied, in a way, in the idea of awakening
itself. Awakening, waking up, is waking up to multiplicity, complexity, the
world. And the Buddha’s teaching, I think, constantly tends in this direction.
It tends away from some unitary experience, an experience of singularity, some
privileged spiritual or religious truth or object, such as emptiness,
Buddha-nature, you name it. And instead moves into complexity, moves into
relationships, it moves into sets of ideas that are somehow connected. 

In the traditional story of the Buddha, after defeating the armies of Mara under the pipal tree (Mara is the metaphor for all attachments and desires, including attachment to the idea of self), Siddhartha was radiant. He walked around redolent of transformation. When people saw him they asked, “Are you a man?” “No” he replied. “Are you a god.” “No” he replied. “What are you then?” “I am buddho” (awake).


So we salute this magnificent accomplishment and the revolutionary insights and practices that were born this day so many centuries ago. We need them as much today in the Digital Age as Siddhartha and his compatriots needed them in the Axial Age. The awakened one found a way to cut through the anguish of being alive; to see through the ceaseless vicissitudes of experience. 

By understanding that we construct our suffering through our relationship to experience he outlined a method that permits us to deconstruct this suffering. We do so by opening to the uniqueness of each moment and guard against imposing memory and fantasy onto this moment. When we can be here now without expectations and agendas we can experience the same liberation that Siddhartha experienced this day. 

Today could just as well be observed as Independence Day — independence from the conditions that give rise to unhappiness. It could also be seen as a birthday — the birth of his new life of freedom and happiness. So, Happy Birthday! Happy Independence Day! Happy Bodhi Day. And, thank you!



  • Kitty

    True freedom – beautiful!

  • http://1person7billion.blogspot.com/ Sonja

    Thank you for this wonderful post! Bodhi is indeed a celebration of Independence. I have quoted you in my humble blog post on Bodhi Day.
    http://1person7billion.blogspot.com/2010/12/happy-bodhi-day.html

  • Matt

    Today is actually my birthday. No wonder I am so drawn
    to buddhism. I think it is great how you provide all these services(blogs, weekly sits) for free. Great post Arnie!

  • Colleen

    HAPPY AWAKENING MATT!

Previous Posts

Citizen of the Cosmos
I recently heard Ann Druyan interviewed on Radio Lab. She spoke of falling in love with Carl Sagan when they were working together on the Voyager mission in the late 70s, where she was in charge of developing the content that would be sent out into space for alien cultures to discover. It was a touc

posted 9:59:05am Oct. 14, 2014 | read full post »

The Present Heart: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Discovery
Polly Young-Eisendrath has a new book out, her fourteenth. This is a book like no other that I've ever read. It is a memoir and it recounts events that I lived through as dharma friends of Polly and the love of her life, Ed Epstein. The Present Heart is a statement on the nature of love. It defin

posted 8:41:37am Oct. 09, 2014 | read full post »

Mindfulness and Climate Action
One Earth Sangha presents Mindfulness and Climate Action, a series of online conversations. These are free and start today and will continue through October into November. I am especially excited that Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield will be presenting today. I hope you can catch it. You can regi

posted 8:31:51am Oct. 05, 2014 | read full post »

A Chilling View Inside the Quiet Room: Electric Shocks Preferred to Sitting Still
A study recently published in Science provides a window into the restless soul of Americans and a compelling case of why we need mindfulness. University of Virginia psychologist Timothy Wilson and colleagues conducted a series of experiments where subjects spent time alone in an unadorned room. We

posted 8:53:12am Aug. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Drive by Shooting: Mindfulness on NPR
It's not surprising when a feature on mindfulness appears in a major media outlet. Mindfulness is popular. This time it is a sub-four minute interview on NPR. Tamara Keith spoke with Sharon Salzberg, one of the co-

posted 6:25:54pm Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.