Monday, March 23, 2009

Buddha's Birthday

"Buddha's Birthday" 3 of 200 from Robert Aitken's book Miniature of a Zen Master.

I had intended not to quote Robert here and yet in this chapter he shows how words can be like Manjushri's sword of wisdom. It cuts away delusion, aversion and longing, to reveal understanding, equanimity and compassion.

"Once a year on the Buddha's birthday we overtly share our promises to restore our own original innocence. Once a moment we share them by example." Robert Aitken

The second part of this speaks to me more than the first. I'm not much for ceremonies and commemorative rituals and I don't discriminate between those that are Buddhist, social or familial. The second part of this quote by Robert points to why. So rarely is it pointed out that the reason for ceremony and ritual is not for the party and presents but to remind us that in this very moment our being is the expression of life. The life that the ceremony and ritual are attempting to point us towards.

My question is do you need ceremony and ritual or can you jump start to the moment by moment expression of life?


  1. Good question. I often wonder about this via my "crutch" of being a maker (really a ceremony or ritual of attention). This activity always seems to accentuate awareness and without it I often lose clarity in momentary lapses in presentness. I often feel that it may be my humanity that requires the activity...with out necessity of the ritual I would be a buddha.

  2. Nik, I too consider myself a maker and yes, in a sense, making is the ritual of attention. My best executions as a maker have been wholly unscripted. It seems to me that the nature of ceremony and ritual is a repetitive scripted interpretation and reinterpretation rather than presence itself.

    "...with out necessity of the ritual I would be a buddha." As my friend Jordon would say "that was pretty!"