Bodhi Day 2017

Bodhi Day Christmas Cookie of Siddhartha Gautama.
Siddhartha Gautama Bodhi Day cookie.

Today, December 25, Christmas Day and the Lunar Bodhi Day of 2017. Merry Christmas!! Happy Bodhi Day!!

Mrs. Hanamoku made me Bodhi Day “rice pudding”, rice and milk, that Sugata gave to Siddhartha either before he started his long meditation under the Bodhi tree or on the 8th day when Venus rose in the morning with the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

Siddhartha was fed a meal of rice and milk by a girl in the village concerned with how emaciated he was.

I hope I’ve helped a little in guiding you to the path, as the Rubber Ducky Buddha of Joliet had done for me and Fishnu had done for him. This last post is my parting guidance for staying on the path.

If you ask a black belt in a martial art whether they would rather fight another black belt or fight a brown belt, the response could a surprising “Black Belt”. In normal life thinking, one would probably choose the lower-ranked brown belt as he would probably be an easier opponent to beat. This is normal life thinking, where the objective is to win at whatever cost. But this is about Enlightenment, where the objective is to hone yourself to better blend in with the One, eliminate Dukkha. This is in large part accomplished through concentrating your focus on Now through your Zen art. The logic of normal life is thrown out the window.

In Enlightened thinking, the reason for a black belt to choose to fight another black belt, even better, choosing to fight a higher ranked black belt, is that this is a much more effective way to improve your skill than fighting the lower-ranked brown belt. However, that black belt must remember that some time ago he too was a brown belt who benefited from the superior skill of the higher-ranked black belt who didn’t have much to gain. That is the Enlightened reason for a black belt to choose the brown belt to fight.

There is a non-enlightened reason why a black belt would choose to fight another black belt instead of the brown belt. This is to avoid the type of brown belt who “knows everything” but in reality knows only enough to be dangerous. This sort of brown belt is kind of unpredictable, throwing out dangerous moves, resulting in unnecessary injuries. A black belt who avoids the “knows everything” type of brown belt for these reasons is unenlightened since this presents much learning opportunity to the black belt that he would otherwise be ill-prepared for in the “real world” of randori, where there are no “rules” as in the dojo. Running away from exposing weaknesses is Dukkha – clinging to your illusion of over-estimated skill.

The type of brown belt who knows everything rarely ever reaches an expert level because his cup is already filled, having no room left for improvement. This sort of brown belt will instead abandon this martial art and move on to another one, where he will again only reach brown belt. One unfortunate path the brown belt who knows everything may move to is management. In a place of management their misconceptions of the finer points of something, for example, enterprise-class software architecture, may lead to unfortunate decisions.

I write this fully aware that I’m throwing stones in a glass house. We are all white belts in most things, green belts in some things, brown belts in a few things, and black belts in a one or two things. What I’m saying is that when we reach the level of brown belt, we’ve traveled the 90% of the path which in most cases ends up accounting for only 10% of the total effort. And that can give us a false sense where we really are.

At any level, the key to Enlightenment begins with emptying your cup and at least acting like it’s always empty, always listen as if we don’t know anything. Never opinionated, no expectations. This goes for the type of brown belt who knows everything as well as the black belt protecting his precious status. In fact, black belts should purposefully seek out the sort of brown belt who knows everything.

Being a Buddha means that you are as comfortable in your Zen art as a wild tiger is being a tiger. A tiger is a Buddha, honed into its native environment as can be. Part of being a tiger is you don’t choose the time and place for anything.

Keep Calm, Merry On!
Reverend Dukkha Hanamoku
Ordained Zen Priest of the Order of the Common Area Ponds

Links to each of the Bodhi Season 2017 days: