Sitting on the steps of the Chau Dai Bi “Compassion Temple,” a small Vietnamese woman approaches me and says, “Thank you for coming, are you happy like the buddha?” Her smiling face is plump and her cheeks are peached by the calming serenity and crisp air of the early November morning.
Happy like the Buddha. Out of all of the different buddha archetypes, I think the most resilient amongst the Chau Dai Bi temple is the happy buddha. This is easily noticeable by the way the patrons of this temple feed the foreigners, like myself, delicious vegetarian soup with smiling, happy faces.
Loving peace is a manifestation of happiness- Saintliness is arguably the same as pursuing happiness. What makes someone resilient like the happy buddha? What separates those who experience happiness despite their circumstances against those who experience sadness? I think there is an internal need for self-satisfaction that creates an individual’s drive for purpose in life.
The only way to survive eternity is to appreciate each moment.
The totality of life is experienced within a multitude of moments and many of those moments are created by our personal actions and choices. With every morning light, we are brought to the realization that we are better served rejoicing the day than cursing it. Inevitably, your life is colored by who you are and who you want to be.
Witnessing Suffering as the Buddha
I believe the greatest lessons the Buddha teaches us are those about suffering. For it was Prince Siddhartha himself that would go into the capital city of his father’s kingdom to see how the other people lived. It is here amongst the people, that the Buddha witnessed the vicious cycle of suffering and developed a sincere wish to free them from their suffering. It was through lifting the veils of ignorance that the buddha was able to become a fully enlightened individual.
However, how do we apply the mythology of the Buddha to the struggles of our daily lives. The story of Siddhartha is a simple reminder that there is suffering in the world. I think that without suffering we would not begin to understand the complexity of nirvana or enlightenment. We must be broken to allow the light of our souls to shine through the desolate cracks.
I’ll Never Regret Breaking
I’ll never regret breaking. I’ll never regret living a moment of temporary insanity because those were the moments that made me wiser and stronger. I was once a person of moral indignation and judged so harshly those who were not comparable to my ideology of grace. I broke and grew wings. I was lost and spun and tucked and reborn again and again. I think that my pursuit of happiness began the day that I was split into two. I have felt and transformed pain so complex and unimaginable and I have survived.
I continue to find loving peace in the midst of my torment. I sit in temple and experience sensations and lifeless reactions to events that re-appear and haunt me every night. However, I transform my sorrow into awakening just like the buddha. I am alive because of the buddha. Resiliency is a mere reaction to a need for complete and total survival. I survived the devil. I battled the wicked. I faced and braved the cold and stood with my arms open. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to open them the same way. I am cracked but I better than I have ever been before and I love myself. I love myself like I love the wind in the night as it graces the shivering trees in winter. I love myself the way the bear loves its fur in the cold, nestled in its homey den. I see that heaven is near me at all times, and I know and feel heaven because of my suffering. And I believe in angels the way I believe in butterflies. I feel God everyday becasuse of my suffering and he has blessed me with his voice. He is with me and guides me and I am in touch with him because in my need… I leaned and survived through him. Just like the buddha.
God I know that you are here. And I am yours and you’re mine. And my soul knows you’re here. And my soul will praise you.