Sunday, December 9, 2012

Buddhas Day (sic)

Zen Master Wonji Dharma (Paul Lynch).
December 8th is commonly celebrated among Western Buddhists as the Buddha's Enlightenment day. For the Buddhist community, it is kind of like Easter is to Christians. (When I told one of my high school students that, he said, "Oh, I didn't know Buddhists had an Easter Bunny too." I hope he was kidding.) It's a magnificent celebration of the day that the Buddha Awakened to the Dharma, the universal law of how things are.

But this was only the beginning. There are many Buddhas, awakened beings, in this world. When we cut through the religious esotericism and idealism about what a Buddha is or looks like, we are free to become one.

I remember the first time I met a Buddha. It was a chance meeting on Google Hangout. There were three of us test running the conferencing app to see how useful it would be for the sangha to communicate. Eventually the host left, leaving me and Zen Master Paul Lynch to chat.

This was the first time I had ever met or spoken to him, so naturally I was nervous. But quickly my trepidation melted beneath his calm and inviting disposition.

Let me stop and tell you something about my teacher: he's the most amazing Bodhisattva I have ever met. I spend no less than two hours per week in interview with him; that's how much he cares about his students and the Dharma. And I am not his only student; at any given time he has upwards of ten students, with whom he spends the same amount of time. That's at least 20 hours of interviews per week!

He has unwaveringly encouraged me to reach my potential as a father, husband, monk, and now a Zen teacher; and most uniquely, he has empowered me to do so.

What began as a (perhaps) chance encounter that day years ago unalterably transformed my life from that moment on. Buddhas are not people who levitate or have mystical powers or features; they are simply people who have awakened to their true nature.

And then dedicate themselves to helping all beings awaken to theirs.

Don't get me wrong, they are not common. In fact, maybe it's the skeptical American in me, but I would be cautious of anyone who says that he or she is awakened. But they're not as rare as most people think they are. I am fortunate to have met one.

To me, Bodhi Day, Rohatsu, whatever your tradition calls it, is not only a celebration of the Buddha's enlightenment; it is a reminder that we are all Buddhas. Everything else is just upaya, or skillful means. 

Thank you Sonsanim for your teaching me this. And especially for all of your time, dedication wisdom, and support. I love you, great teacher. I'd still be staring at a wall if it were not for you.


  1. Are there any podcasts of his available? I would love to listen to them. Thank you, Megan

  2. Megan,

    There are some of his talks recorded floating around on the web; I'll find them for you. For now, here's his latest print talk:


  3. Thank you Andre!! _/\_