April 22 2014 Buddhism Newsletter
Happy Earth Day! In many versions of the Buddha's life story, the Buddha reaches towards the earth with his right hand when he is sitting under the bodhi tree and challenged by Mara, the king of delusion. The earth roars back "I bear witness", referring to the Buddha's awakening, and Mara is banished. I love this story, and the associated mudra, or sacred hand position, of reaching towards the earth, as it demonstrates our sacred interdependence with the earth and nature.
Speaking of Buddha, on April 8th, Buddha Day was celebrated in Japan, and the corresponding holidays of Vesak and Saga Dawa will follow in May and June. Here is an article describing this day as it is celebrated around the world:
Vesak or Saga Dawa - Celebrating the Buddha
My other new article this month is an overview of a book that I'll also be offering teachings from in the forum on an ongoing basis:
The Way of the Bodhisattva by Shantideva
The Way of the Bodhisattva, also called the Bodhicaryavatara or Bodhisattvacharyavatara, is an eighth century teaching particularly honored in Tibetan Buddhism. It teaches the way to cultivate and maintain both relative and ultimate bodhicitta, or 'awakening mind.'.
I hope you'll join me in the forum as I explore this text in an ongoing thread. I am doing the same with Bhante Gunuratana's Mindfulness in Plain English, a class on mindfulness and insight meditation. The forum may be found here:
In closing, and in honor of Earth Day, here is a beautiful quote from Buddhist environmental activist Joanna Macy:
"Because the relationship between self and world is reciprocal, it is not a matter of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the Earth, the Earth heals us. No need to wait. As we care enough to take risks, we loosen the grip of ego and begin to come home to our true nature. For in the co-arising nature of things, the world itself, if we are bold enough to love it, acts through us. It does not ask us to be pure or perfect, or wait until we are detached from all passions, but only to care to harness the sweet, pure intention of our deepest passions, and, as the early scripture of the Mother of the Buddhas says, 'fly like a Bodhisattva.'"
- Joanna Macy
Lisa Erickson, Buddhism Editor
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