As the year quickly comes to an end and we prepare for the busyness of the holidays, we are
reminded of how this is truly a season of reflection. This is an opportunity to pause and reflect on our lives and the gifts of the spirit that we enjoy throughout the year.
On Bodhi Day (December 8th) we celebrate the Enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha, and
we rejoice in the promise of universal liberation through the Dharma. Meditating under the Bodhi Tree, the Buddha declared, “As earth is my witness. Seeing this morning star, all things and I awaken together.” He had become the Buddha—the Awakened One.
We are fortunate to receive this gift of the Buddha’s teachings which enable us to awaken to the working of Wisdom and Compassion in our lives. When we receive the life-giving Dharma as a spiritual gift, we naturally share our appreciation and joy through our thoughts, words, and actions. We spontaneously embody the Buddha’s Path which is grounded in deep self-reflection and a profound kindness towards all.
The Buddha’s Enlightenment was truly a journey within himself in which he discovered the potential for awakening that everyone possesses. We are all equally able to encounter and appreciate Wisdom unfolding as Compassion continually within our lives. This is why no experience is ever wasted. There is always an opportunity for learning and growth in all that we encounter throughout our lives.
Rev. Kenryu Tsuji shares a profound understanding of how Enlightenment is truly a process of continual growth in the following passage from his book The Heart of the Buddha Dharma,
It is a common belief that Enlightenment occurs suddenly and that it is the single great religious experience in life, but Enlightenment is a growing experience that never stops. Each day we experience the joys and sadness of life, and with each living experience we come to a deeper understanding of the totality of life—its beauty and ugliness, success and failures, victories and defeats, birth and death. Every activity of life has absolute meaning, for every motion, however significant, is the Enlightenment experience.
The world of Awakening is present in each moment of our ordinary everyday lives. We are so fortunate the Buddha shared the way to keep our hearts and minds open so we can fully experience the gift of life and the wonder of living.
As I reflect on the past year, I am grateful for my Sangha. We have experienced much and have grown together as fellow travelers. The living Dharma flows through our lives and has helped us face our many challenges with equanimity and grace. May we always find comfort, inspiration, and resilience within Amida Buddha’s compassionate embrace.
This season of reflection is something we should cultivate every single day. This is the heart of the Buddha’s Path. We can always take refuge in how the Buddha’s Enlightenment is the ultimate promise of our own.
Namo Amida Butsu.