• SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: The Stories of the Buddha's Birth

    April 8th is traditionally celebrated as Buddha's Birthday in Japan!

    A funny thing about Buddha's Birthday in Japanese Buddhism ... it is on a different day from the day in most of the rest of Asian Buddhism, where the date varies year by year and the holiday is known as "Vesak". Vesak in Japan (known in Japan as Hana Matsuri ... Flower Festival) is celebrated on April 8th each year ... although he was born in late April or May in most other countries (having two or more birthdays is no problem for a Buddha. Truly, his birthday is your birthday, plus he is born every moment). It is not a public holiday in Japan, and is barely noticed by the general population, unlike many other places in Asia. Even in temples, it is usually celebrated rather quietly.

    In some descriptions, the story goes like this ...

    Twenty-five centuries ago, King Suddhodana ruled a land near the Himalaya Mountains.

    One day during a midsummer festival, his wife Queen Maya retired to her quarters to rest, and she fell asleep and dreamed a vivid dream. Four angels carried her high into white mountain peaks and clothed her in flowers. A magnificent white bull elephant bearing a white lotus in its trunk approached Maya and walked around her three times. Then the elephant struck her on the right side with its trunk and vanished into her.

    When Maya awoke, she told her husband about the dream. The King summoned 64 Brahmans to come and interpret it. Queen Maya would give birth to a son, the Brahmans said, and if the son did not leave the household he would become a world conqueror. However, if he were to leave the household he would become a Buddha.

    When the time for the birth grew near, Queen Maya wished to travel from Kapilavatthu, the King’s capital, to her childhood home, Devadaha, to give birth. With the King’s blessings she left Kapilavatthu on a palanquin carried by a thousand courtiers.

    On the way to Devadaha, the procession passed Lumbini Grove, which was full of blossoming trees. Entranced, the Queen asked her courtiers to stop, and she left the palanquin and entered the grove. As she reached up to touch the blossoms, her son was born.

    It is said that auspicious signs herald his birth, the sky was clear with brilliant sunshine, flowers bloomed and birds sang. Directly after his birth nine heavenly dragons appeared and emitted two steams, one cool and one warm, of the purest fragrant rain from their mouths that gently cascaded to bathe the newly born Prince. The baby Prince immediately took seven steps and seven lotus flowers sprang from beneath his feet.

    Flowers drifted down from the heavens. The young Prince purified in body and mind from the rain, pointed one hand towards the heavens and one towards the earth and he said,

    "Heaven above and earth beneath, I am the Honoured One, the One who liberates all who suffer in the Three Realms."

    Anyway, that is one version of the story.

    But whether with or without magic elephants, heavenly dragons and talking babies, we can be inspired by this truly wondrous story (or stories)


    Oh, and today's talk is inspired by David Loy's little book 'The World Is Made Of Stories'

    Gassho, Jundo
    This article was originally published in forum thread: SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: The Stories of the Buddha's Birth started by Jundo View original post
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. Sekishi's Avatar
      Sekishi -
      Lovely, thank you Jundo.

      My current understanding is that in our sitting, we uncover the story before our stories, our "original face", that which comes before "I am", "I need", or "I want" (or even "be", "need", or "want"). Sometimes, maybe we even glimpse it, as it always is (observed or not) - we see the writing on the page instead of only living in the cloud of the narrative itself.

      I was particularly struck by Daiho Roshi's recent talk, and have been carrying it around since last week. Honestly, I sometimes struggle a little with the dichotomy of "fixing samsara" (similarly I struggled with this during Jukai - we cannot possibly "not take life"). How do we engage in a fundamentally broken world? Are we simply telling ourselves beautiful stories? Your analogy of "writing your own story", in which "my hands" become "Kannon's hands" is a beautiful one and has helped heal this illusory divide for me. Seeing the writing on the page (our practice) does not preclude picking up a pen and writing our own book! Quite the contrary, how difficult it would be to create a new narrative without seeing the writing!

      Deep bows,
    1. Heishu's Avatar
      Heishu -
      Thank you Jundo, for this teaching. It is wonderful to have stories to hear and to share that are woven into this tapestry of existence.

    1. Sydney's Avatar
      Sydney -
      Thanks, Jundo.

      I just got the "crazy idea" to upload a 20-minute silent video to YouTube, and put it in a playlist followed by the sit-a-long video on auto-play. That way one could just sit for twenty minutes and then hear the talk.
    1. Myozan Kodo's Avatar
      Myozan Kodo -
      Great! Thanks Jundo. Lovely.
    1. Mp's Avatar
      Mp -
      Wonderful teaching Jundo ... always enjoy your expression, thank you! =)

    1. Daitetsu's Avatar
      Daitetsu -
      Thank you, Jundo!


    1. Koshin's Avatar
      Koshin -
      Thank you... a much needed lesson...now, to write todays story.


      Sent from Tapatalk 2
    1. Risho's Avatar
      Risho -
      Thank you.


    1. Genki's Avatar
      Genki -
      Thank you Jundo!
      Great talk.


    1. Byokan's Avatar
      Byokan -
      Wonderful inspiration, a real kick in the pants! Thank you Jundo

      sat today