holy days

So I’ve got a couple of things to talk about today. First, some house cleaning. It is the end of the first week of December. I’ve got a lot to do over the next few weeks, and then I’m off for a well-deserved vacation. If updates are a little slow in coming as a result, you now know why. Rest assured, however, that I am planning a massive update to the site early in the new year.

Secondly, I’ve got a little warning. It’s the end of the first week of December. I am, right now, sitting in the office while my office-mates listen to (shudder) KFOG. Every half hour or so I am assailed with relentless ads telling me to go out and buy everyone I know a new DVD player or CD or sweater or God knows what. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend more than 200 billion dollars in the next three weeks. Already, someone has almost been killed over a DVD player at a Wal-Mart in Florida. I’m not trying to be overly idyllic. And I’m trying not to sound like I’ve lived in Berkeley too long. (By the way, I don’t actually live in Berkeley. I just spend too much time here.) So I’m not going to tell you to shake off your capitalist tendencies and not buy your loved ones presents. But try to hold in mind that this is supposed to be a season of compassion, of inner reflection, of thanks, and spirituality, too. Go out there and be mindful while competing for that DVD player.

Lastly, since this is Buddhaworld, I thought I’d let everyone know that this upcoming Monday, December 8th, is Bodhi-Day. This is the day that Buddhists celebrate the enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha, the historical Buddha, 2500 years ago in India. This is a day where we remember that he was, just like us, a human being who was on a quest to answer those fundamental existential questions of life and death and why we suffer. That he was able to attain nirvana gives us hope that we, too, can attain awakening. That he was so kind as to pass these teachings on to us, we give thanks to his benevolent compassion. And since the continuing community of monks and nuns and teachers and fellow-practitioners have been so good as to keep the teachings alive, we give thanks to them as well. The day should begin with a meal of rice and milk, the food offered to the Buddha which gave him strength to keep searching for an answer. And mindfulness is the word of the day.

If you’ve already got lights up around your house, think of them as representing the light of enlightenment. Hang three special bulbs on your tree for the Three Jewels; the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. And light a candle everyday as the light of wisdom for the next few weeks.

And as always, send out your thoughts of peace and compassion for all your fellow sentient beings.

Happy holidays, whatever your faith. May peace find us in the coming year.