Thursday, September 17, 2009

Washing up

I missed Vesak at Blue Cliff Monastery, but I have this picture from the event. A sister is pouring water over the baby Buddha.

Vesak is the spring holiday that celebrates the birth of the Buddha. Our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, teaches "no coming, no going, no birth, no death," which means, cosmically, that the man we call the Buddha was never born and never died, as all is in continuation. Less cosmically, the man was born about 2,500 years ago and died about 2,420 years ago. Either way, we're happy that he taught what he taught and so we say, "Happy Birthday." Or, as Thay would say, "Happy Continuation Day."

In this practice we also say,

Washing the dishes is like
bathing a baby Buddha.
The mundane is the sacred.
Everyday mind is Buddha mind.

Which is sort of like this old Gateless Gate koan:

A monk said to Joshu, "I have just entered this monastery. Please teach me."
"Have you eaten your rice porridge?" asked Joshu.
"Yes, I have," replied the monk.
"Then you had better wash your bowl," said Joshu.
With this the monk gained insight.

Happy continuation day yet again, dear dirty dishes.

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