Bodhi Day is the Buddhist holiday of meditation and remembrance. It is the day of honoring the original Buddhist Siddhartha Gautama who showed the way to enlightenment after sitting under the Bodhi or Peepal tree, discovering the “roots of suffering”, and how to transcend from this state of being through meditation and reflection.
“While meditating we are simply seeing what the mind has been doing all along.” – Allan Lokos
- On Bodhi Day, practitioners are focused on meditation and remembrance of the Buddhist way. Before this is done, an environment is prepared by decorating a Ficus tree with small colorful lights and beads to symbolize the way all things are united. Three shiny balls are added to symbolize “The Three Jewels”: The Buddha, The Dharma and The Sangha.
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath”. – Amit Ray
- When Siddhartha sat under the Bodhi tree for seven days and achieved enlightenment, he reached Nirvana. On Bodhi day, one will meditate on the self. One way of doing this is to sit with legs crossed or in a chair with feet flat on the ground and fingers touching in an oval in front of the belly. If possible, the buddhist will meditate under a tree, particularly a Ficus or Bodhi. Meditation can be of a single object such as breathing, posture, the tree in front of you. Or meditation can be to follow the thoughts, not dwelling in any one, skipping from one thought to the next like skipping over leaves across a river. The idea is eventually you become the river itself, allowing yourself to let go of your thoughts through breathing and observation.
“You should not be carried away by the dictation of the mind, but the mind should be carried by your dictation”. – A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami
Breath through your nose, with eyes closed, tongue touching the roof of your mouth and count for each breathe in and out, one. Breath in and out, two. Breath in and out, three. You will do this up to ten and back down to one again, holding each breath for a three count in between inhaling and exhaling.
“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are”. – Ani Pema Chodron
- Practices on Bodhi day include gathering with other Buddhists and joining in a small meal of rice, milk, tea, cake and readings.
Those who follow the Dharma greet each other by saying, “Budu Saranai!” which translates to “may the peace of the Buddha be yours”.
“If you have time to breathe you have time to meditate. You breathe when you walk. You breathe when you stand. You breathe when you lie down.” – Ajahn Amaro
- Acts of kindness towards other beings are practiced on Bodhi day. Buddhists will meditate before Bodhi day to gain visions of what type of acts they are able to perform and plan their acts towards others. Meditations and acts will continue for 30 days after. Every day a candle is lit to represent and remember the enlightenment.
“Through meditation, the Higher Self is experienced”. – Bhagavad Gita
- Buddhists will stay up all night and meditate, study the way of Dharma and chant Buddhists Sutras. These meditations, studies and chanting can be carried on daily for the entire month. Guided visualizations are common and can encorporate various techniques. For example, ” You are a sitting on a grassy knoll in the sunlight. A gentle wind brushes against your body and softly moves the grass around you. You are completely comfortable and content…”
“If you want to find God, hang out in the space between your thoughts”. – Alan Cohen