On December 8th, many Buddhists around the world celebrate the Bodhi Day -- the day that Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha achieved enlightenment under a Bodhi Tree.
Buddhists usually celebrate by eating a bowl of rice and milk, putting a string of lights throughout their house, potting or buying a live ficus tree for their home, and retaking the Buddhist vows.
This is a great opportunity to think about Buddha’s achievement: enlightenment (“to have woken up and understood”).
Although I constantly think about the importance of awakening and understanding, I am in no way searching for enlightenment, especially now that I find myself very grounded to this world. You see, I have a son and I can't imagine detaching myself from him. It also helps that the achievement of such a grandiose act is one in bazillion (don’t quote me on that, the number might be slightly off). Let’s say that earlier on I decided to stick around this world to make sure that, if I can’t be enlightened, I am bringing light to those around me. This Chinese proverb always reminds me that change starts from the inside out:
If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person.
If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house.
If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.
And with the stress of the holiday, I must say that I am a little behind on this task. The more stressed I get, the dimmer my light gets and the uglier I look. That is why today I invite you, in celebration of Buddha’s enlightenment, to join me and my fellow IWJ colleagues in the practice of mindfulness and try to light our souls. It can be as simple as leaving a chocolate treat for your colleague who is working a lot this season or helping IWJ build this amazing social justice movement. It is all compassion. So today we might not illuminate the whole world (not yet), but we will for sure bring light to some dark places.
May the light in your soul brighten your face and those around you.
Your fellow half-light-at-the-moment-but-sure-to-be-bright-soon sister.