Day 1 of the Lunar Bodhi Season of 2017, the 12th New moon of 2017, the year Bodhi Day coincides with Christmas.
The first of the Bodhisattvas to go into the world providing guidance is fittingly the Bodhisattva of Infinity, otherwise known as One. This is symbolized by the circle on his chest. There is only One Universe, but saying “One” sounds like we could ask, “As opposed to Two? Three?” By saying “I am One with the Universe”, we’re saying we understand that carving nothing we imagine – not people, objects, concepts – exists in isolation. Everything past and future is related in a limitless Whole – Infinity.
Rather than “I am One with the Universe”, it is better to say “Infinity is indivisible.” How many oceans are there? Four or five depending on when you went to school. But isn’t there just one body of water? Can your liver survive without the rest of you, or vice versa? OK, fine. However, we may insist that the mug on our desk is unequivocally a recognized thing. But we judge it by a small set of criteria, not by ALL the ways it is related to other things.
The concentric circles of the circle on the Bodhisattva’s chest represents the different levels of existence. There are infinite levels of existence, but let’s say for example, the innermost represents the atomic level, the red represents the cellular level, the green represents the level we humans normally play in. Beyond that would be the level of the level of Life on Earth. Beyond that, the way planets and stars form solar systems, etc. What is of great interest in the levels of existence is that phenomena at higher levels are almost impossible to imagine from the point of view of the lower levels. For example, could human behavior be predicted based on “cell physics”? Could cells be predicted by “atom physics”? And, the levels aren’t limited to smaller to bigger things either – it can be levels of dimensions too – but that’s for another time.
The concentric circles say, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” That’s something people often quip in a requirements gathering meeting to sound smart. But it tells us that at the puny level of human existence, it’s almost laughable to think we can understand the Universe, the Infinity, through our human-level logic. It takes a higher-level logic to truly see, and to answer koans that sound idiotic with our human-level logic.
So here is the first line of the “Great Blue Heron Sutra”, given to me by Rubber Ducky:
“Infinity is all that is real, it is indivisible, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
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: