memory – Bodhgaya

Today is the Snow Moon, and I think of Sensei’s decision to go to Bodhgaya around the age of 45 (in the late 1970’s). Why did he go? He said he wanted to understand the Buddha’s original teachings in contrast to the more modern Mahayana of Zen in Japan. Remember Bodhgaya is where Buddha sat under the Bodhi Tree until he was enlightened. Many countries have representative Buddhist temples there including Japan, and Sensei taught meditation in that one until around 1980. One day Sensei told me to memorize “Khantī paramaṁ tapo tītikkhā” (patience/perseverance is the greatest virtue). Well it turns out that this full moon day is celebrated in Sri Lanka, Thailand, etc as “Sangha day” or Māgha Pūjā, and commemorates Buddha’s Ovāda-pāṭimokkha teaching which includes that statement. Here, Buddha, 10 months after enlightenment, refers to the plural Buddhas, meaning all Awakened ones:

Patient forbearance is the highest austerity.
(Khantī paramaṁ tapo tītikkhā).
Unbinding is highest: That’s what the Buddhas say.
He is no monk who harms another;
nor a contemplative, he who oppresses another.

The non-doing of all evil,
the performance of what is skillful,
the cleansing of one’s own mind:
This is the Buddhas’ teaching.

Not reviling, not injuring,
restraint in line with the monastic code,
moderation in food,
dwelling in seclusion,
devotion to the heightened mind:
This is the Buddhas’ teaching.

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