Saturday, December 08, 2007

Bodhi Day

For people new to my blog, I like to learn about different religious holidays as they come up on my calendar, so I share what I learn here. I wasn't originally doing Christian holidays because I already knew about most of them, but I have started including those as well.

Bodhi Day is the Buddhist holiday commemorating the day that Siddhartha Gautama experienced enlightenment (bodhi).

In the 6th century BC, Siddhartha (age 29) left his home and family and all his possessions to discover the meaning of life. After 6 years of rigorous discipline and study under the guidance of a number of spiritual teachers, he still hadn't found what he was looking for. He finally decided to just sit under a pipul tree and meditate until he understood. On the eighth morning, he came to the realization which became the founding principles of what the modern world calls Buddhism. He became Enlightened and experienced Nirvana. Having done so, Siddhartha now became a Buddha or "Awakened One".

During his enlightenment experience, Siddhattha attained 3 types of knowledge:

  1. He saw that he had died and been reborn many times

  2. He saw that all beings are reborn according to their deeds, the law of kamma (karma); and

  3. He saw the nature of suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering and the way leading to the cessation of suffering (the Four Noble Truths)

From that point on, he was referred to as the Buddha, the Enlightened One. He is also referred to as Shakyamuni (the sage of the Shakya clan) Buddha, Gautama Buddha, Shakanyorai (in Japanese), and many other names to distinguish him from Amida Buddha, who is not seen as a historical figure but the idealized Buddha of unlimited wisdom and compassion and is equated with all of life itself, and thus signifies all of us.

Customs for the holiday vary according to culture, but Bodhi Day is widely seen as a reminder to Buddhists that with the right effort and understanding any person can become Enlightened.


1 comment:

  1. How cool! Thanks for posting this. The kids at my school learn a lot about other religions in their Theology and Philosophy courses, but this is an area where my education has a big hole in it. I try to tie my art classes in with these holidays whenever I can (makes their Theology lessons more relevant) and will add this one to my calendar!