Saturday, October 1, 2011

October 5th - Bodhidharma Day

ink painting by Sesshu Toyo (1496)
From what I've been able to gather, this is the one Buddhist holiday that is a Zen holiday. The others seem appropriate for Buddhists only. Now, strictly speaking, the whole idea of a holiday or day of commemoration is probably nonsensical from a Zen standpoint. I wonder what Bodhidharma would have to say about 'Bodhidharma Day'. Somehow, I think he would find the whole idea preposterous and mightily disapprove.

My idea of celebrating this day was to stay home and meditate for a while. And this really does suggest a bad mindset. How is sitting in zazen a 'celebration'? Why would I want it to be? Why do I need an excuse to sit in zazen? How is sitting is zazen on this day any different from any other? The real driving force behind me wanting to celebrate this day is not celebrating Bodhidharma at all. It's that I've not sat in zazen for a long time, and I'm deluding myself with the notion of a holiday to get back into it. What a tangled web we weave, huh? Eeeesh.

Once I realized that, I decided that I would still take the day off as a way to start reasserting some control over my work-life balance. And I will meditate as part of that, because I do need to get back into it.  I've lost a good deal of my sense of peace, perspective, and discipline of mind without it.

And whether Bodhidharma would have approved or not, I do like the idea of a day to think about him specifically.  Despite all the mythos around him, Zen did spring from him. So what's wrong with taking a bit of time to think kindly of someone I owe a lot too?  More than the whole Zen thing, he has become a symbol of kind in my life.  As the cartoon below humorously illustrates, he represents the idea that my spirituality, my intellectual life, and my physical self (in terms of activity and fitness) are all part of the same thing and that they should all spring from the same place.

No comments: