After the combination of daylight savings time a couple weeks ago, the leaves fallen off the trees, and the motion of Venus herself, I was able to see her for the first time this year as the Morning Star at about 6am.
Venus is a big part of Bodhi Day. Siddhartha Gautama awoke from his meditation on the morning of the 8th day of the 12th moon to “the Morning Star”. Whether or not it was Venus – it could have been Jupiter – I prefer the much brighter Venus for Bodhi Day.
The Morning Star is also important to me, having grown up as a Shingon Buddhist. Kobo Daishi, the founder of Japan’s esoteric Buddhism, Shingon, reached enlightenment reciting the Morning Star mantra a million times – in one sitting:
Nobo akyasha kyarabaya Om arikya mari bori sowaka.
It takes a while to recite it without stumbling. I think it took me about a week of one hundred reps per day before it suddenly gelled and I could recite it smoothly.
So for my Bodhi Day celebration, I try to be somewhere with great odds for a clear morning. I live in the Western U.S, so there are very many deserty places where there is that high probability for clear skies as well as a far horizon (no pesty mountains and trees blocking my way – hahaha).
Only three weeks to go before Bodhi Day!! Although I consider this first sighting of Venus as the start of Bodhi Season. So get on the wagon, go vegetarian, double-down on your faith and patience – or wait until after Thanksgiving.
Today is the first anniversary of the Rubber Ducky Buddha of Joliet’s enlightenment. His Bodhi Day!
I believe this is the first photo I took of Rubber Ducky after this enlightenment.
Here is a little story from a few days after Rubber Ducky’s enlightenment. I think it was November 6, 2017.
When I got “home” from an incredibly fun day with my new friends … I thought I lost Rubber Ducky. I know Rubber Ducky was in my pants pocket as usual when I got in the car to come home. But he wasn’t there as I changed to go to bed. I hadn’t been home long, so there weren’t many places he could be. I looked through the car first, then along the path from the car to the house, rifled through stuff I brought in, my backpack, grocery bags. No Rubber Ducky.
It seems like folks who become enlightened soon leave this realm and I thought that was the case with Rubber Ducky. Well, if Rubber Ducky did leave, it was a day of fun suitable for his last day.
Then I thought I’d check the car one more time. I put on my shoes, jacket, got the keys, and there he was in one of those “compartments” by the gear shift. That’s not too odd, but I really don’t remember taking him out of my pocket.
He said it was a test of losing my dukkha. At least for this test, I guess I did very well. I readily accepted that Rubber Ducky moved on. “Is that so?”, as Hakuin would say.
However, counter-intuitively much more impressive, is that when I found Rubber Ducky, I was equally accepting as when I thought I lost him. This part is hard to grasp that it sounds like life is supposed to be this even-keeled, dull, thing lacking incredible rushes. But there is a Universe of difference between the freedom not-clinging brings and the very temporary high of a victory, that “dopamine rush” (or whatever) or even a “meth high”.
Lastly, I wrote a new post on our sister site, The Teachings of the Eternal Fishnu, titled, I’m a Buddha Trapped in a Man’s Bodhi. It’s dedicated to the 1st anniversary of the Rubber Ducky Buddha of Joliet’s enlightenment,
Whether your purpose for visiting this site is to simply celebrate the Buddhist commemoration of the morning Siddhartha Gautama awoke into reality, became enlightened, or you wish to be Enlightened, please read on. If your purpose is the former, you may change your mind. If it’s the latter, you’ll see there’s no need to wait for December 8 for Bodhi Day.
You are Buddha now. Meaning that you are a phenomenon of this Universe dependent on everything around you and vice versa. Your body goes along with what Is, even if brain is under the impression that it controls everything. You just need to empty your mind, accept what Is, and enjoy the ride. You can do it right now. If you’re serious about enlightenment, waiting for December 8 is just procrastination.
If you’re new to Buddhism, that previous paragraph probably sounds like utter, flowery nonsense, platitudes. And that’s exactly what it is to someone who only listens to that overgrown analytical cortex part of the brain of we humans.
See that we were always Buddha, always part of everything, and that it was just the model we call our brains that thought otherwise. It’s as enlightening as it was for astronomers when Copernicus realized the Sun does not revolve around the Earth, but the other way around.
Astronomers tried all sorts of convoluted schemes to force things to add up with the Earth at the center. But it just kept covering up one mess with another. Similarly, we suffer convoluted lives because we futilely attempt to control the Universe with our brain thinking it’s reality, not the other way around. It’s that simple.
So if I say you should just be enlightened, not wait for some magic on Bodhi Day, why have a site dedicated to Bodhi Day? For my Bodhi Day last December 8, 2017, it was more of a final exam. I went into that Bodhi Season (the seven days prior to Bodhi Day) already pretty much there. A month earlier I tagged along for the Enlightenment of the Rubber Ducky Buddha of Joliet. Then for a few weeks I benefited from access to his mastery as well as that of his teacher, The Eternal Fishnu.
Likewise, spend these next few weeks before Bodhi Day learning from the Bodhi experience of the Rubber Ducky Buddha of Joliet and myself – NOW. Start with What is Dukkha? and read the other posts on fishnu.org (in chronological order) going back to the first post on November 5, 2017, Tori and Uke.
My favorite movie since it came out in 1979 is Being There, starring the late Peter Sellers. To adapt a quote by Robertson Davies, it’s one of those movies that one must see in youth, middle age, and old age 1. Well, I’m a couple of blocks from old age and enjoy that movie on a profoundly different level than when I last saw it almost a couple of decades ago.
The movie is about a very simple man named Chance who was cared for by a benefactor who dies at the beginning of the movie and a housekeeper/nanny/cook. It’s never mentioned what their relationship was. We just know the benefactor was much older – Chance referred to him as “the old man”. And the housekeeper knew Chance since he was a boy.
Chance never left the house and seemed to spend all of his time just watching TV and tending to the gardens. Everything he knew about the world was from TV. When the benefactor dies, no one properly represents Chance and he ends up evicted from the home, which happens to be in D.C.
From there, his unworldliness (and I mean that as a compliment) leads him to be almost run over by a car. The passenger of the car is the wife of a very rich, powerful man; a powerful man who is very near death. Chance meets many associates of this powerful couple, who take a great liking to him. His simple approach to life, based on care for a garden, was very appealing, refreshing sage wisdom to those D.C. folks.
No one suspects Chance is really just a gardener, who until a few days before never left his house. He became known as Chauncey Gardiner, when someone asked his name and he replied, “Chance … [cough] … th … [cough] gardener”.
This “sage wisdom” finds its way to the top tiers of the government – sounding profound, but unknown to all he encounters is that it’s based on a sentience knowing nothing beyond gardening. At the end of the movie, it seems Chance is a very viable candidate for the U.S. Presidency. I think what I took away from the movie all those years ago as a young adult was that the world often doesn’t make sense.
Unlike how Siddhartha Gautama was when he left his royal life as a prince seeking something, Chance left the safety of his home when his benefactor died already an enlightened Buddha, not seeking anything – although that’s not quite right because it’s more a matter of Chance’s light never having gone out. He never lost his empty cup and 100% acceptance of what is.
The scene where he is walking down the median of a big city freeway as if it’s a stroll through the woods is a marvelous illustration of the Buddha. I sometimes visualize this as I’m ping-ponged about the busy halls of my workplace or Downtown.
Give it a try. Don’t worry about outcomes, consequences, needing to get somewhere. Just walk. The world won’t come to an end, but you’ll get a nice break from yourself.
As Ringo says (in response to commentary of his drumming), “Don’t mistake simple for inferior.” In the world of functional programming it’s said that complexity is composed on top of simplicity. Complexity built on top of complexity is what human designing, desiring minds have created. But the One is the complex wonder, the self-sustaining system, built on top of the most elegant simplicity.
Watching this movie is a great way to prepare for Bodhi Day. Today, at near old age, I understand it as a brilliant example of seeing what an empty cup, 100% acceptance of what is, and walking the path with no agenda looks like 2. I can’t think of any movie that I as a Buddhist enjoy and relate to more.
1 “A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.” – Robertson Davies
2 The core of The Eternal Fishnu’s Teachings is encapsulated in Three Zen Stories, of an empty cup, 100% acceptance of what Is, and walking the path.
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.
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:
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:
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.
Below is Mrs. Hanamoku’s recipe that we enjoy every Bodhi Day! However, leftover rice and milk heated, nothing else, over the stove is fine if you want to live hard-core ascetic.
4 C whole milk
½ C rice – Basmati, Jasmine, or Japanese Sticky rice.
½ C sugar
2 tsp cardamom powder
1. Wash and soak rice for 30 minutes.
2. Bring milk to a boil.
3. Add drained rice to milk on medium heat. Cook until rice is done and mushy.
4. Add sugar and continue to cook until mixture thickens. Keep stirring during this stage.
5. Add cardamom powder and cook for 5 more minutes.
6. This desert can be served warm like oatmeal or cold like custard.
Why this Rice and Milk?
Most accounts I’ve read on the Internet of Bodhi Day state that Siddhartha Gautama was presented with a meal of rice and milk before he went into deep meditation under the Bodhi Tree. However, The Eternal Fishnu says that The Buddha received the meal upon his awakening from the meditation on Bodhi Day.
I believe The Eternal Fishnu’s version as he was there, and it seems to make a little more sense to me anyway. The accounts that state Siddhartha received the meal before says that it invigorated him for his meditation. To me, that would have disrupted his resolve to find Enlightenment. He really was in such bad shape that he was right at the door.
It seems more appropriate that this rice and milk meal symbolizes a literal breakfast (breaking of his long fast) than just nourishment, certainly not enough to make much of a difference over the seven days. The meal, so simple, so unassuming, is a perfect gesture to a brand new Buddha.