Monday, May 7, 2012

Buddha Purnima

Yesterday the full moon was so close to the earth, it hung low and glowed larger than the sun.  An amazing sight, made more special because of the darkness everywhere else.

Yesterday was also Buddha Purnima, a celebration of the birth and 'becoming' (for lack of a better word) of the Buddha over two thousand five hundred years ago.  Perhaps this is why the  night felt especially peaceful and compassionate, with thousands of Buddhist prayers rising up all over the world, more so in the East.  Last night we recalled the trip that we made to Myanmar some years ago.  We happened to be in Yangon, at the Shwedagon Pagoda (a beautiful, gold gilded 2500 year old Buddhist temple) quite by chance on Buddha Purnima.  The pagoda was filled with people silently meditating or praying, offering incense and flowers, lighting tiny candles.  It was serene and heart warming at the same time.

As with all else, once the Buddha began to be used to symbolize a kind of path, the path split up-- with vehement supporters and opposers and the evolution of different ways to interpret and act on his words.  His words (what we know of them) appear simple yet profound (for example: "If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete").  Yet the words are difficult to follow, the path is sometimes hazy until one steps on it.  As I think about this, a verse from Lao Tzu's writings comes to mind:

Of old he who was well versed in the way
Was minutely subtle, mysteriously comprehending,
And too profound to be known.
It is because he could not be known
That he can only be given a makeshift description:
Tentative, as if fording a river in winter,
Hesitant, as if in fear of his neighbours;
Formal like a guest;
Falling apart like thawing ice;
Thick like the uncarved block;
Vacant like a valley;
Murky like muddy water.
Who can be muddy and yet, settling, slowly become limpid?
Who can be at rest and yet, stirring, slowly come to life?
He who holds fast to this way
Desires not to be full
It is because he is not full
That he can be worn and yet newly made.

(Translated by D.C. Lau)

No comments:

#Header1_headerimg { margin: 0px auto }