Hello Aspiring Buddhas!
The “secular” Bodhi Season starts in 62 days, on December 1, 2018! By “season”, I’m talking about Bodhi Day itself and the days of meditation prior to that day of awakening – which is December 8. In our industrialized world, Bodhi Day has been standardized to December 8, as opposed to swinging around over a 30-day period year to year based on the Lunar Calendar.
Mrs. Hanamoku and I celebrate both the Secular and Lunar Bodhi Days.
For these modern times, many Zen/Buddhist traditions take seven days of meditation, with Bodhi Day on the morning of the eighth day. If you think about it, seven days of meditation is awfully short for something as grand as enlightenment. Especially for an enlightenment that you hope will stick. So really, Bodhi Day starts way before and continues forever.
Unlike the days of the Buddha, these days we have jobs with a mere two to four weeks of vacation per year. And even with that, most of us have a big backlog of vacation days because we can’t get the time off. So even just seven days is tough! Add to that, when was the last time you took a vacation without the heavy cloud of being called on your cell phone?
So with that in mind, we can at least prepare ourselves over the next couple of months so we can hit the ground running with the few short days we can realisitically hope for.
There are two major categories of preparation – logistics and our frame of mind.
It’s ideal to take the entire time off from work – that is, from December 1 through December 8. You probably would have had to reserve that time weeks ago or even a year ago! If not the entire eight days off from work, at least try to plan early to avoid critical deadlines and rollouts around that time, and to at least take a couple of days off before and on December 8. December 8 is a Saturday this year, so at least Thursday to travel and Friday to fully meditate.
It’s also ideal to get away to somewhere away far from civilization,such as wide-open a desert, bluff along the ocean, or high up at an alpine lake. Mrs. Hanamoku and I live in the Western U.S. where such places are plentiful.
You’ll likely end up needing to camp out on the night of December 7, unless you find a remote cabin or something like that where you can just get out and hike a couple of miles. Don’t worry about the discomfort of camping out even if it’s in a car. As Clark Griswold said when he took his family to the country to cut down their Christmas tree, “It’s all part of the experience.”
If Venus is the Morning Star at the time, look for a place where you can watch it rise, as had Siddhartha Gautama on his Bodhi Day. It looks like in the U.S. Southwest, Venus rises around 3:00 AM on Saturday, December 8, 2018. That’s a little early for our purposes, but it should still be in a nice place around 5 AM.
Since you may be chanting and ringing bells, it should be a place where you won’t disturb others who may not like being awaken in the wee hours of the morning … but the chanting and ringing bells aren’t mandatory.
I love the deserts of the U.S. Southwest. It doesn’t need to be Zion or Bryce Canyon, just open and far away.
Don’t worry if it may be too cold in early December. Or maybe a little scary because of being remote. All the better to feel alive. Bring a good coat, gloves, cap for the cold, and a good raincoat in case it rains.
Preparing your mind requires much more. The best advice I can give is to give yourself a dry run or two or three. Don’t worry about the results of these dry runs. Don’t even worry if you life sucks worse than ever at this time. Don’t worry if you fail the dry runs miserably. It will get your mind wrapped around things and give you time to work out issues you may not have been aware of.
There’s nothing to lose by having dry runs over these next couple of months. In fact, I had the good fortune of a dry run with the Enlightenment of the Rubber Ducky Buddha of Joliet (November 3, 2017) before my own Bodhi Season from December 1-8, 2017. I wrote of the experience of the Rubber Ducky Buddha’s Enlightenment in a series of blogs during November 2017. (Remember, the blog posts are in reverse-chronological order, so start at the bottom with Tori and Uke.)
As I just mentioned, my own Bodhi Season occurred the following month from December 1st through the 8th. I wrote much about that experience during those days:
- Day 4 – Illusion of Fragmentation
- Day 5 – Levels of Reality
- Day 6 – Pitifully Inadequate Models of the Universe
- Day 7 – Secular Bodhi Day Eve
- Koan: How to Prepare for an Unknown Event
- Beginner’s Mind: Listen
- Enlightenment is Switching on the Light
Following are links to messages I wrote for others to meditate upon for the Lunar Bodhi season of 2017, which began on December 18, and Bodhi Day coinciding with Christmas Day that particular year. I think these messages will provide a very nice third dry run, as well as an outline for your actually Bodhi Season:
- Day 0 – It’s Bodhi Time
- Day 1 – The One
- Day 2 – The Yin and Yang
- Day 3 – The Three Jewels
- Day 4 – The Tidy Symbolic World
- Day 5 – Impermanence
- Day 6 – Perfection
- Day 7 – Enso
- Bodhi Day 2017
Use those links above as a dry run of your Bodhi Season. There’s nothing to lose by having a dry run over these next couple of months. In fact, I had the good fortune of a dry run with the Enlightenment of the Rubber Ducky Buddha of Joliet before my Bodhi Season. I wrote of that experience in a series of blogs during November 2017.
Lastly, please check out and subscribe to Zen Teachings of the Eternal Fishnu, where I post many articles on Zen. Those articles should help prepare your mind for your Bodhi Day. This site is targeted at Bodhi Day itself, whereas Fishnu.org covers Zen to a deeper level.
Along the next few weeks, I’ll write more about what to do during the Bodhi Season as well as offer more guidance to prepare. And I will coach you along with daily posts from “Day 0” (November 30) through Bodhi Day on December 8.