Happy Bodhi Day 2011

Bodhi Day 2011

Tomorrow is December 8th or Bodhi Day, which celebrates the Enlightenment of the Buddha. After decorating the regular Christmas tree this week, I pulled out a mini-Christmas tree (the same as used last year), and we started decorating that too. My daughter chose most of the ornaments, including the DIsney ornament at the top, featuring “Tiana” from The Princess and the Frog. πŸ™‚

I plan to do a little “Christmas-like” ceremony tonight with my daughter by leaving some cookies for the Buddha, symbolizing the offering of food to Shakyamuni by the peasant girl before he meditated under the tree. Tomorrow I have a gift-wrapped present for her containing arts and crafts. I am also taking the day off from work since it is a religious holiday and so I can spend time sight the family.

Bodhi Day in the US sometimes gets confused with Rohatsu which is a Zen-specific monastic ritual for Bodhi Day centered around more intensive meditation practice. But for lay-Buddhists (including Zen Buddhists) with family this isn’t normally feasible. Me? I’ll endeavor to follow the 8 precepts tomorrow and otherwise just try to be a good father and husband. πŸ™‚

I know some folks might be expecting the usual sermons I like to give on days like this, but the truth is is that I have no time or energy for it. Frankly, I don’t feel particularly qualified to do it anymore (that’s why there are trained, professonal clergy) nor do I feel I have the energy to write anything about Bodhi Day that hasn’t already been said in past posts.

But for Buddhists everywhere I wish you Happy Bodhi Day!

P.S. Part Two.

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Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

11 thoughts on “Happy Bodhi Day 2011”

  1. The term Rohatsu is not unique to Zen, as the name comes from the date of the holiday itself; this holiday (much like Christmas) has its origins in a Chinese holiday (θ‡˜ε…« Laba) which predates Buddhism in China. Much as Christians have done with the Christmas holiday, Buddhists have fully appropriated Rohatsu, so much that there are several revisionist Buddhist origin stories for cultural practices associated with this holiday. The strong association of Rohatsu with Anglophonic Zen probably has to do with Western Zen’s preoccupation with Japanese nomenclature. I wonder how many Zennies are aware of Rohatsu’s non-Buddhist roots. So much for dropping Asian cultural baggage, I suppose!

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  2. Hi guys:

    Arun: Wow, good call. I wasn’t aware of that one either (and Wikipedia certainly didn’t have it). To be honest, in my experiences of Japanese Buddhism, I’ve never heard “Rohatsu” outside of a Zen context, and usually only to refer to the special meditation sessions they do. Then again, any term in Japanese for Bodhi Day is complicated and kind of obscure (i.e. not everyday Japanese), so maybe it’s just one of many terms used.

    In Japanese, “hanamatsuri” is the generic term used for the Buddha’s Birthday in April, but each sect seems to have its own obscure, formal terms for it too, complicating things. :p

    Kendall: Thanks very much. πŸ™‚

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  3. Happy Bodhi Day to you and your family! My husband and I have never celebrated Christmas, but this year for the first time we put up a (fake) tree and trimmed it with ornaments I’d accumulated over the years. Also added a couple of nenju. Instead of a star we put a scroll with the six-character Name at the top. Seems a little weird but it works for us and we are getting great pleasure out of it.

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    1. Hi Wren,

      Great to hear from you! The nenju-ornament idea is really clever. I might try that next time, as well as the hanging scroll. πŸ™‚

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  4. Happy Bodhi Day to you too!

    Doug said, “I know some folks might be expecting the usual sermons I like to give on days like this, but the truth is is that I have no time or energy for it. Frankly, I don’t feel particularly qualified to do it anymore (that’s why there are trained, professonal clergy) nor do I feel I have the energy to write anything about Bodhi Day that hasn’t already been said in past posts.”

    Doug, I am a “trained” Lay Minister and although I may understand certain things, I don’t always communicate them as well. This is a skill that you have and I have enjoyed reading your posts. Even when there is only so much that can be said, it is nice to share thoughts. Thank you!

    Wren: Cool idea! I have used a small ceramic statue of Hotei under the tree as I like to identify him with Santa Clause.

    In Oneness,
    Shinyo

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    1. Hi Shinyo and Happy Bodhi Day to you too.

      My concern with my own pontification is that there’s plenty of charismatic Buddhist bloggers on the Internet who have 0 training and only a half-baked understanding, but garner lots of readers. I feel I fall into this category (albeit with less charisma and fewer readers), and thus shouldn’t be talking about things which I only have some understanding. Compare this to an actual priest who’s invested time understanding the Buddhist doctrine and (ideally) putting this into practice. They may be less charismatic, but more experienced and thus more trustworthy in my opinion. I don’t mean fake guru-types, but people with lots of “on-the-ground” experience. I can’t even commit to a Buddhist practice or the precepts all that well, so why would be crazy enough to self-appoint myself as a Buddhist expert, like I did in older blog incarnations?

      I think that’s what I am getting at. :p

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      1. Understood. By becoming more of a student, we are able to be more open to the Dharma or teachings that are all around us. I would like to recommend a book. Maybe you have already read it. I have too, but am reading it again. Dharma Breeze by Nobuo Haneda.

        _/|_

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      2. Thanks Shinyo for the book suggestion. My backlog of books is getting pretty long but I will check if out. πŸ™‚

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