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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Bodhi Day

Today, December 8th, is Bodhi Day, which is the Buddhist holiday that celebrates when Siddhartha Gautauma (the historical Buddha) reached enlightenment. The day is in remembrance of his coming to realization of the Dharma (wisdom) foundations of what would become Buddhist philosophy. Namely, a rejection of the asceticism he had been involved in, in favor of the Middle Path of moderation, and the deep understanding of suffering and how to relieve it through non-attachment. This is referred to as ‘the Great Awakening’.

Traditionally, the day was “the 8th day of the 12th lunar month” but this has been set to December 8th in Western and Western-influenced countries using the Gregorian calendar. Of course, it doesn’t really matter which day Buddha’s enlightenment actually occurred. Shocking to many of other beliefs perhaps, some monks will tell you it doesn’t really even matter if the story is even true. What matters are the teachings, and whether they work in alleviating suffering and promoting happiness. The existence of these teachings are the real thing worth celebrating for the Buddhist.

The reason you’re reading about this in an article by a Humanist is because most of the core, earliest documented teachings of the Buddha are Humanistic in nature; focused on human happiness in this life, through a series of practical practices and principles. This is why Humanist contemplatives have begun to meditate and explore mindfulness and its role in human well-being more and more.

Also, we’ll be having a traditional celebratory dish, rice pudding, tonight! Happy Bodhi Day!

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