It’s pretty neat to live in a country that deems Buddha’s birthday as a national holiday. It means the city is filled with lanterns, and if you hike to a temple at night you will be mesmerized by the illuminated temple sky. Buddhism has been a part of my life since college. I found this book in the library, Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies and the Truth About Reality. It changed my life. Here is the part that pulled me in,
“Sitting in the back of your grandma’s VW Bug, in that little indentation there by the rear window, you’re three years old and the world is big. Suddenly, as the engine warms up and the car begins to back down the driveway, you look out at the clear blue sky and for an instant see you YOU ARE EVERYTHING. You want to say something, but none of the words you have will stick at all; nothing will come except for a wide, wide smile that crosses all of space and time — and the moment is utterly forgotten. Then one day you’re walking along the banks of a river somewhere far, far from that driveway and all at once it comes rushing back, though it never really left. But still, none of the words you have will stick to it at all”.
You can see a series I wrote starting with, What is Enlightenment?
Now in 2012, I am covered in tattoos. I refer to my Geri Larkin books in time of need. And I have spent a total of 6 days with Buddhist monks in Korea. This isn’t exactly what I had hoped for, however I am still holding on to all the lessons I have learned thus far, and Buddhism remains a comfort and truth. My tattoos serve as a reminder of what I strive for. On my left arm I have taken designs from various temples that I saw in Thailand, Japan, Korea, and China and covered my arm with them. In the middle of these patterns is the word Bodhisattva. This is what I strive for,
a person who is able to reach nirvana but delays doing so out of compassion in order to save suffering beings.
ORIGIN early 19th cent.: Sanskrit, ‘a person whose essence is perfect knowledge,’ from bodhi- ‘perfect knowledge’ (from budh- ‘awaken’[see Buddha]) + sattva ‘being, essence.’
I wake up, look at that word. I go to sleep, look at that word. I get frustrated, angry, jealous, sad, lonely, and I look at that word.
When I see a street cat that needs my help, I look at that word. When friends tell me about someone who is speaking badly about me, I look at that word. When work gets complicated and I feel helpless I look at that word. When I get pushed, confused, or ignored in my day to day routine, I look at that word.
So this day is special to me, just like every other day really. I try my best to live in the present, and serve as an example of compassion. I want others to see this in me, and I want to share it with everyone.
To celebrate now, I head to Japan for the weekend! I have some exploring to do with two very special people.
If you live in Korea I hope you are able to visit a temple this weekend, and see all the beautiful decorations.