Sunday, June 20, 2010

enduring everything

These pictures are of two dear friends who seem to be able to endure whatever comes their way. One is our big granite Temple Buddha, who sits smiling, on the day of his arrival, at the packing strap that lifted his two and a half ton body from the delivery truck to the stone garden where he now rests comfortably. He sits through rain, sun, daylight and starlight, with the same lovely smile. The other picture is of my friend Anne, who is in her late 80's, and has recently had a couple of hospitalizations based on the usual endlessly long list of the side-effects of aging. On this particular visit, she had to wear an EEG monitor on her head for 24 hours. You may have seen the picture of the Tibetan monk, Matthieu Ricard, after enduring a functional MRI, his head covered with a network of sensors, smiling beatifically. Anne, not a long-time meditator, but surely a Buddha, went up and down in mood during her ordeal, but here she is smiling. She has always made the best of things in her long life. I bow to her cheerful endurance, as I bow to the Buddha. May we all smile to our suffering, knowing we are more than our suffering.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Buddha visitors

Buddhas are attracted by Buddhas. The new big Buddha at the Temple is inviting curiosity from animals, birds and all beings -- children, walkers, drivers, dogs. There's something magnetic about his solid serenity. We all want to be with him and sit with him.

The name Buddha derives from a Sanskrit word that means "awake." The big Temple Buddha is a Chinese sculpture of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, who lived around 2600 years ago. He stated very clearly that he was not a God -- simply a human being who had discovered a way to realize the truth of this life, to see beyond his own delusions and find clarity.

Buddha images are meant to inspire us to awaken to this unvarnished reality, not to be worshiped or venerated. And yet we human beings forget that this awakened nature exists inside every one of us, and so we look to others, rather than to ourselves. The invitation of the big Temple Buddha is to recognize him as a mirror, not as an image of something outside of you.

Buddhas are attracted by Buddhas. When you stand or sit before a Buddha figure, when you bow or offer incense, please know that you are bowing in gratitude to the awakened nature within you. May you see Buddhas everywhere!