Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Full Moon on May 5, 2012

For many Buddhists in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and in the Southeast Asian countries of Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Indonesia, May 5, 2012 marks the celebration of the life of Gautama Buddha, beginning from his birth to his passing away. It is celebrated as Buddha's birthday, Buddha Jayanthi, in India. It is also celebrated to represent Buddha's enlightenment on a Full Moon night, two thousand five hundred and fifty five years ago. Called Vesak or Wesak in many parts of Southeast Asia, it is called Vaishakha in India. Here is a link to find out when the Full Moon occurs for the rest of 2012 and 2013.

"No Water, No Moon", a well known koan, describes nun Chiyono's experienced enlightenment on a Full Moon night. For years, she had been studying to practice Zen under Bukko of Engaku, and yet had not felt the sense of enlightenment. Then, on one Full Moon night as she was carrying home a pail of water she saw the reflection of the brilliant Moon in the water. She could not look up in the night sky to stare at the Moon, for fear of dropping the pail and losing the water. She was happy enough to gaze at the Moon's reflection, see many distortions of the Moon caused by the undulating water, and enjoy the beauty of the Full Moon through its reflection. Suddenly, the old pail made of bamboo fell apart. Water gushed out and the reflection of the Moon instantly disappeared. Nun Chiyono became enlightened.

Enlightenment happens suddenly. There is no step-by-step approach towards feeling enlightened. For Nun Chiyono, perhaps it is a vision that came true through perceiving all the images she could see on the Moon. Her gaze focused on the Moon's reflection. All she saw was a continuous image of the reflected Moon while she walked along a path illuminated by the bright shining Moon. No one will ever know what exactly Nun Chiyono saw and experienced, and that which brought her enlightenment. Enlightenment is an experienced understanding of the truth. No one can share this experience, as no words can carry the inner feelings. Words are merely a way to express a thought. The manner in which the thought occurred can not be expressed. 

In this context, the discovery of the holographic quality images of the Buddha form on the Moon, and the image of Jesus Christ on the Moon are significant to understanding the Zen state of mind. The approximate size of each image is seen in the picture below.

From a scholarly view-point it will be useful for historians and philosophers to articulate greater meaning of the phrase "Pointing finger at the Moon".

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