Bodhi Day or Rohatsu

This upcoming December 8th is Bodhi Day or The Buddha’s Enlightenment. Bodhi Day is not as popularly celebrated as Wesak Day, the Birth of the Buddha, however, it is still observed in many mainstream Mahayana traditions including the Zen and Shin Buddhist schools, where it is known as Rohatsu.

Among the Mahayana Buddhists, this holiday celebrates the Buddha’s attainment of Nibbana. Which is the understanding of the truth of existence, freeing himself from all human suffering, and finding perfect happiness.

The date, 8th December, is based on the Japanese Buddhist calendar but Buddhists elsewhere celebrate it on different days.

During this holiday there are many retreats some lasting for 10 days. In general the retreat ends on Bodhi day.

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Filial Duties

Today, talking with my daughters we discussed what Buddhist children’s Duties to their parents were and what Buddhist parents Duties to their children were. Below is what the Buddha has to say in the Sigalovada Sutta: The Discourse to Sigala, The Layperson’s Code of Discipline

“In five ways, young householder, a child should minister to his parents.

(i) Having supported me I shall support them,
(ii) I shall do their duties,
(iii) I shall keep the family tradition,
(iv) I shall make myself worthy of my inheritance,
(v) furthermore I shall offer alms in honor of my departed

“In five ways, young householder, the parents thus ministered to by their children, show their compassion:

(i) they restrain them from evil,
(ii) they encourage them to do good,
(iii) they train them for a profession,
(iv) they arrange a suitable marriage,
(v) at the proper time they hand over their inheritance to them.
“In these five ways do children minister to their parents… and the parents show their compassion to their children.”

In the next blog I will offer up a interpretation of the above Sutta.

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Together forever

In my readings I have been wondering about being with my wife in future existences as it took me so long in this one to find her. The Buddha discussed of this in the Pancavudha pyo Sutta.

At the time of the Buddha there lived a wealthy man, Nakulapita and his wife, Nakulamata. They had been together for many existences. They had become Sotápanna Ariya (stream-winners) since they first pay homage to the Buddha. This couple had been the parents, or elder uncle and aunt of the Bodhisattva in many previous existences. They were very fond of the Buddha like their own son and were granted privilege of asking any
question. Once the wealthy man said, “Venerable Sir, I took Nakulamata as my wife since my youth, since then I hadn’t even thought of infidelity, let alone actually being so. I had always wanted to be in the presence of Nakulamata in the present life and I always want to be so through out the samsara.”

On hearing the words of Nakulapita, his wife also said frankly, “Venerable Sir, I came with him to his house since my youth. Since then I hadn’t thought of anyone. I had always wanted to be with him in the present life; and I always to be with him through out the samsara.”

The Buddha said, “If man and wife, who are leading a harmonious life, wish to be together in the next existences, they should have the same faith (saddha), the same morality (síla), the same liberality (caga) and the same level of knowledge (paññá).”
“As the husband has pure morality, just so she should have. If one of them wishes to give charity, the other must comply. If she donates, he encouraged her. If he donates, she should be delighted. Their wisdom and knowledge must be the same too.

For further clarification, the passage from Pancavudha pyo is translated as follows:

“In the human abode, if husband and wife are in harmony and willing to be together; if they have the same liberality, morality, faith and confidence, they will be together in samsara like glorious Devas and Devis who are together in the heavenly abodes all along the cycle of rebirths.”

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Daily Thanksgiving Meal Prayers

Well, another Thanksgiving has passed. But, we should not forget to be thankful every day. Below are 5 prayers to recite before every meal.

1. This food is the gift of the whole universe—the earth, the sky, and much hard work.

2. May we live in a way that makes us worthy to receive it.

3. May we transform our unskillful states of mind, especially our greed.

4. May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness.

5. We accept this food so that we may realize the path of practice.

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Taming The Bull

1. The Search for the Bull
In the pasture of this world, I endlessly push aside the tall grasses in search of the bull. Following unnamed rivers, lost upon the interpenetrating paths of distant mountains, My strength failing and my vitality exhausted, I cannot find the bull. I only hear the locusts chirring through the forest at night 

Comment: The bull never has been lost. What need is there to search? Only because of separation from my true nature, I fail to find him. In the confusion of the senses I lose even his tracks. Far from home, I see many cross-roads, but which way is the right one I know not. Greed and fear, good and bad, entangle me.
2. Discovering the Footprints
Along the riverbank under the trees, I discover footprints! Even under the fragrant grass I see his prints. Deep in remote mountains they are found. These traces no more can be hidden than one’s nose, looking heavenward. 

Comment: Understanding the teaching, I see the footprints of the bull. Then I learn that, just as many utensils are made from one metal, so too are myriad entities made of the fabric of self. Unless I discriminate, how will I perceive the true from the untrue? Not yet having entered the gate, nevertheless I have discerned the path.
3. Perceiving the Bull
I hear the song of the nightingale. The sun is warm, the wind is mild, willows are green along the shore, Here no bull can hide! What artist can draw that massive head, those majestic horns? 

Comment: When one hears the voice, one can sense its source. As soon as the six senses merge, the gate is entered. Wherever one enters one sees the head of the bull! This unity is like salt in water, like colour in dyestuff. The slightest thing is not apart from self.
4. Catching the Bull
I seize him with a terrific struggle. His great will and power are inexhaustible. He charges to the high plateau far above the cloud-mists, Or in an impenetrable ravine he stands. 

Comment: He dwelt in the forest a long time, but I caught him today! Infatuation for scenery interferes with his direction. Longing for sweeter grass, he wanders away. His mind still is stubborn and unbridled. If I wish him to submit, I must raise my whip.
5. Taming the Bull
The whip and rope are necessary, Else he might stray off down some dusty road. Being well trained, he becomes naturally gentle. Then, unfettered, he obeys his master. 

Comment: When one thought arises, another thought follows. When the first thought springs from enlightenment, all subsequent thoughts are true. Through delusion, one makes everything untrue. Delusion is not caused by objectivity; it is the result of subjectivity. Hold the nose-ring tight and do not allow even a doubt.
6. Riding the Bull Home
Mounting the bull, slowly I return homeward. The voice of my flute intones through the evening. Measuring with hand-beats the pulsating harmony, I direct the endless rhythm. Whoever hears this melody will join me. 

Comment: This struggle is over; gain and loss are assimilated. I sing the song of the village woodsman, and play the tunes of the children. Astride the bull, I observe the clouds above. Onward I go, no matter who may wish to call me back.
7. The Bull Transcended
Astride the bull, I reach home. I am serene. The bull too can rest. The dawn has come. In blissful repose, Within my thatched dwelling I have abandoned the whip and rope. 

Comment: All is one law, not two. We only make the bull a temporary subject. It is as the relation of rabbit and trap, of fish and net. It is as gold and dross, or the moon emerging from a cloud. One path of clear light travels on throughout endless time.
8. Both Bull and Self Transcended
Whip, rope, person, and bull — all merge in No-Thing. This heaven is so vast no message can stain it. How may a snowflake exist in a raging fire? Here are the footprints of the patriarchs. 

Comment: Mediocrity is gone. Mind is clear of limitation. I seek no state of enlightenment.
Neither do I remain where no enlightenment exists. Since I linger in neither condition, eyes cannot see me. If hundreds of birds strew my path with flowers, such praise would be meaningless.
9. Reaching the Source
Too many steps have been taken returning to the root and the source. Better to have been blind and deaf from the beginning! Dwelling in one’s true abode, unconcerned with that without — The river flows tranquilly on and the flowers are red. 

Comment: From the beginning, truth is clear. Poised in silence, I observe the forms of integration and disintegration. One who is not attached to “form” need not be “reformed.” The water is emerald, the mountain is indigo, and I see that which is creating and that which is destroying.
10. In the World
Barefooted and naked of breast, I mingle with the people of the world. My clothes are ragged and dust-laden, and I am ever blissful. I use no magic to extend my life; Now, before me, the dead trees become alive. 

Comment: Inside my gate, a thousand sages do not know me. The beauty of my garden is invisible. Why should one search for the footprints of the patriarchs? I go to the market place with my wine bottle and return home with my staff. I visit the wineshop and the market, and everyone I look upon becomes enlightened.

The illustrations reproduced here are modern versions by the noted Kyoto woodblock artist Tomikichiro Tokuriki, descendant of a long line of artists and proprietor of the Daruma-do teashop and are the most common ones seen today. Each is beautifully descriptive of the journey and a whole story in itself.

If you are wondering why I posted this please read Mr. Eckhardt’s article. HERE

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The Three Conditions explained by Buddha

In the the Visualization Sutra, we hear how Queen Vaidehi, suffering from terrible family misfortunes, complained to the Buddha, saying, “Life is filled with suffering. Is there not a place without suffering? I wish to live in such a world.”

The, Buddha Shakyamuni was able to show the queen all the worlds, of all the Buddhas in the Universe. After seeing this she vowed to be born into Amitabha Buddha’s Western Pure Land, the world of Ultimate Bliss, and requested that Buddha teach her how to accomplish this.

The Buddha taught her to practice the Three Conditions explaining that they were
“the true causes of pure activities of all Buddhas.” Therefore, they are a crucial part and foundation of your practice. This important statement tells us that all Buddhas of the three time periods of the past, the present, and the future, rely on these Conditions as the foundation for their cultivation and attainment of Buddhahood.

The First Condition is as follows:

  1. Be filial to and provide and care for parents
  2. Be respectful to and serve teachers
  3. Be compassionate and not kill any living beings
  4. Cultivate the Ten Virtuous Conducts. Which are:
    1. Physically, (1) killing, (2) stealing, and (3) sexual misconduct.
    2. Verbally, we are to refrain from (4) false speech, (5) harsh speech,
      (6) divisive speech, and (7) enticing speech.
    3. Mentally, we are to refrain from giving rise to (8) greed, (9) anger, and (10) ignorance.

The Second Condition is as follows:

  1. Take the Three Refuges
  2. Abide by the precepts
  3. Behave in a dignified, appropriate manner

The Third Condition is as follows:

  1. Generate the Buddha mind
  2. Believe deeply in causality
  3. Study and chant the Mahayana Sutras
  4. Encourage others to advance on the path to enlightenment

For a glossary of any terms above visit the Amitabha Buddhist Retreat website.

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Change is occuring

In reflection tonight I realized that my buddhism has evolved. When I started my search I was looking for direction. I went to temple and listened to Dhamma talks, I spoke with Monks and laity alike. I asked questions and gave donations thinking that someone might be able to point me in the right direction.
Then tonight as I was practicing. A calm and peaceful smile appeared on my face. For me it was a moment of complete happiness and contentment.
After I was doing sitting I thought about what happened and I realized that what the Buddha said about discovering what Buddhism means for yourself meant and the Vipassana meditation I have been doing is doing just that.
As for questions that I once had, I now realize that they are not important because things cannot be known are of no consequence as I need to be concerned with the present moment.

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