Sunday, January 25, 2009

Life of Buddha: Death

There were quite a few people in the class, some new, so I took some extra time with meditation instruction:
  I want everybody to do their absolute best to be very quiet. No talking, and no body language talking. By that I mean no silent talking to your friend. We're going to do some meditation that's all about focusing on your own breath and your own body. Like the Buddha under the Bodhi tree, we're gonna allow those distractions to float on by. ...even with the drums going on next door, we're just gonna let that float on by.
 I began the lesson speaking of the ceremony Nehan, which we would celebrate at the next Dharma School.  We remember those who have died in our lives, whether people or pets.

I shared various pictures of the gathering that happened when the Buddha died. The Buddha was about 35 when he experienced enlightenment, but he died when he was around 80 years old. He knew he was going to die, and accepted a tainted bowl of food despite knowing that. His cousin Ananda nursed him, and wished to save him. He was always the one who remembered what the Buddha said. Ananda begged, "If you leave us, who will be our teacher? Who will show us the way to Nirvana and Enlightenment that conquers all suffering?"

Everybody gathered round, they didn't want the Buddha to die. They were wailing and suffering. The Buddha smiled. He gave the most important talk of his life. He said, "Don't be sad, my friends. Remember, all things that have a beginning must have an end. And haven't I taught you that the only way to Nirvana lies in you. You must find if for yourself." He said, "Be a light unto yourself. You'll find your own wisdom in yourself, and you can pass that on to others, just as I have to you."

For checkin I had asked the girls to share one thing of the truth in their life...something of their own wisdom. I reminded them of the song, "This Little Light of Mine." I asked, "What is your light? What is something in your life that is your light that you can offer, your wisdom? It could be a word, like joy, or peace, or happiness. You could surprise me. What is your light? What is your truth?" I got such answers as caring, animal lover, kindness, generosity, music, creativity.  I told them this was why, to remind them of their own wisdom that they already have, and that they can pass on to others.

The Buddha taught us a way to uncover that truth and that wisdom. When Buddha reminded Ananda of that, Ananda nodded. Buddha said, "Keep the light that glows within you burning, for it alone will lead you to truth." Keep the light that shines within you, like the song.

This is how we get the Dharma of Buddhism, like one light passing to another, from teacher to student.

For a craft, I had little heart-shaped tins (favor tins) with a lid with window to see inside. They could paint with paint pens or use sharpies. They could choose 3 polished decor stones to put inside, for use in meditation.

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