Yesterday was the beginning of a week-long period we call “Spring Paramita” in my homeland – three days before and after the Spring Equinox (it is designated “spring” because we have another around fall equinox). In this period, we are supposed to: A) try to master the six parami (perfections) taught in Buddhism needed to arrive at the goal of enlightenment (the Further Bank) on the three days before and after the Spring Equinox, and B) celebrate the lives of our ancestors who have already arrived at the Further Bank on the Spring Equinox.
Nowadays, I think very few of us practice part A (I don’t either… I had to look up what the six perfections were!), and less and less are doing part B (I do this part, but I never knew the underlying meaning to the things we do on this day). I cannot speak for all my people, but I think it is because we are too busy living this life we have no time left to worry about the afterlife and beyond.
Maybe we are too busy having too many desires that crush against one another and cause too many sufferings, never allowing us to be enlightened in the Buddhist sense.
Or maybe we are too busy working around the clock using the latest technological advancements that resulted from scientific revolution, and we do not reason and act on own will but instead have gadgets tell us how to think and what to do, never allowing us to be enlightened in the Western sense.
Then, maybe it is not such a bad idea to take a few days to think about enlightenment, in whichever sense you like.
Stop for a moment from wanting so much, and start thinking about the ways in which we can ease pain… perhaps generosity, discipline, patience, diligence, contemplation, and wisdom, the six perfections.
Or stop for a moment from flicking on the display so much, and start thinking about the ways in which we can challenge the authorities and dogmata and propagandas that we have been overlooking.
It is unfortunate that a tradition is on the brink of extinction. But it would be even more unfortunate if the thought behind it is lost as well. I hope that, even if it is only days and not ages, our search for enlightenment will remain with us in some form because, well, I am too afraid of the dark!