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30 Days with a Madrona - Day 10 - Full Moon Buddha

Today is Buddha’s birthday. It is also the full moon, a blue moon, the second full moon of the month. 2,500 hundred years or so ago, Siddhartha, the prince raised in luxury, went on a quest to discover freedom from the inevitability of human suffering. His six year journey eventually brought him to a tree. That tree was an Asiatic fig or ficus religiosa, which we now know as the Bodhi (“being awake”) tree. He sat beneath it and vowed to stay until he attained enlightenment.

He had spent the previous six years along with five followers practicing extreme deprivation, denying the body as a means of spiritual enlightenment. He discovered that his path did not provide answers but simply hastened the deterioration of the body. He had lived in the lap of luxury as a prince and now extreme deprivation as an aesthetic. Neither path was the Way.

When he sat down under the tree and accepted food from a woman (because of which his five followers abandoned him) he had discovered the middle way between entrapment of the material world and extreme denial of it.

For forty nine days he stayed under the fig tree, suffering all the privations and temptations of mortality that Maya, the Goddess of illusion could throw at him. We know her today as the sirens of the seen world (commerce, social media, advertising, (most) relationships, cell phones and objects of desire) that keep us locked into distraction, desire, disappointment and dissatisfaction.

For seven weeks the tree was his only companion. I came across this description of his time under the tree from Moyra Caldecott (Myths of the Sacred Tree):

He could feel the great tree drawing nourishment and energy from the earth. He could feel it drawing nourishment and energy from the air and the sun. He began to feel the same energy pumping in his heart. He began to feel there was no distinction between the tree and himself. He was the tree. The tree was him. The earth and the sky were also part of the tree and hence of him.

He had achieved the supreme goal: absorbsion into the ever-present soul of creation. He had achieved oneness, an unbroken state of union with god. From this experience he developed the four Noble truths and the Eightfold path.

I am no Buddha, but here I sit on his birthday. Reliving in the tiniest way the age old tradition of sitting beneath a tree. Just sitting. I feel the tree settling down my mind. Every time I sit and tune into the tree my mind quiets down. More and more it feels as if this is how the mind is supposed to be in its natural state. It is designed to take time to sit. It is designed to take time to watch clouds. It is designed to watch wind move tree limbs.

I sit beneath Madonna, “My lady” and breathe, just breathe. “Patience,” she tells me. “All is well. All is well.”

Tree Haiku - Day 10 listening to birds the jangled world disappears rooted in the way

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