When people think of Buddhism, they tend to picture a bald-headed person in loose-fitting robes and beads sitting cross-legged on the ground or floor with their closed and humming softly as they meditate while trying to reach enlightenment. Well first of all, stop peeping through my bedroom window! And while most of that may be correct in a rudimentary sense, there are many observances, traditions and ceremony surrounding Buddhism as a whole. As I’ve explained in a previous post (Oh, You’re THAT Buddhist!), there are different branches and sects of Buddhism. And with those branches come some observances that the Western world refers to as holidays. Today is one of them.
Bodhi Day, otherwise known as the day that Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) reached enlightenment, is today. Depending on which background you hail from, it can also be observed in early December, although I don’t pretend to understand why. I’m not big on observing holidays. But the December date and today’s date have something to do with one date being the secular holiday and the other one being related to the lunar calendar, causing it to change date with every passing year.
As far as I’m aware from a Zen Buddhist perspective, I’m meant to observe it on December 8th, which is when the observance is meant to be done based on the Gregorian calendar being introduced by the Meiji Restoration in the late 1800’s. I’m writing about it on this day since it’s when I had an open spot in my postings. Of course, I probably could have written this post instead of one about weightlifting as I did, but I digress…
Bodhi Day is observed by Zen Buddhists by staying up overnight the day before and practicing meditation. I can’t say that I’ve been able to practice an overnight meditation in years, as life simply doesn’t allow. But depending on the branch, sect and what country you observe it from, it can also include fasting, chanting, studying the dharma, sharing traditional meals and performing good deeds.
As with most holiday posts, I’ll keep this one short. If any of my readers are interested in learning more about Bodhi Day, there are plenty of Buddhist websites that can provide further and deeper detail. I just wanted to provide a little insight on some of our practices that go beyond meditation. ☯