April 8th marks the birthday of the Buddha, Shakyamuni, in Japanese culture. This is often known as Hanamatsuri (花まつり) or the “flower festival”. Even in these tough times, it is a time to rejoice for us Buddhists, even if you observe the day on a different calendar.
I admit that I almost forgot this year, if not for my calendar reminder. Growing up in the west, there aren’t a lot of reminders of the Buddha, so it can feel kind of lonely at times, and frankly a little guilty too.
But, I am reminded of this lovely quote from the 3rd chapter of the Lotus Sutra (法華経):
The Tathāgata [the Buddha], freed from
The burning house of the triple world,
Tranquilly lives in seclusion,
Abiding in peace in the woodland.The Threefold Lotus Sutra, translated by Bunnō Kato, Yoshirō Tamura and Kōjirō Miyasaka (12th ed., 1992)
For me, this quote reminds me that holidays or no holidays, gifts or no gifts, the Buddha dwells in peace beyond the turmoil of life, and looks back toward us with goodwill who have not yet completed the path. And that’s Buddhism at its finest. This is the true legacy that Shakyamuni left us: a vision for peace of mind, goodwill and a path to attain it.
So, happy birthday, Lord Buddha!
P.S. These are just among some of the great Twitter posts I saw in Japanese for Hanamatsuri. I wish I was this creative. 😀