WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 8: Zen and Shin Buddhists—part of the Mahayana tradition—recall Siddhartha Guatama’s achievement of Nirvana today, as many observe Bodhi Day (also called Rohatsu.) In simple terms: Today observes the night that Siddhartha became Buddha! Thousands of years ago, in 596 BCE, Siddhartha achieved Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.
Siddhartha was born a noble prince and lived a comfortable life, but when he finally saw the suffering and sickness of the world outside his family’s protection, he began searching for meaning. (Wikipedia has details.) However, studying under various teachers, attempting extreme fasting and other measures did not lead him to the answers he sought. So, he vowed to sit under a Bodhi tree until he received an answer to the meaning of life. According to the Buddha, his Enlightenment happened in three stages: First, he discovered all of his past lives in the cycle of rebirth; second, he discovered the Law of Karma and of the Eightfold Path; and third, he learned the Four Noble Truths, thus reaching Nirvana.
Many Buddhists will honor Buddha’s Enlightenment today by holding services, meditating, studying the Dharma or eating a traditional, small meal with family and friends. (FamilyDharma has fun suggestions on how to celebrate Bodhi Day at home.) This year, Universal Society of Hinduism President Rajan Zed extended Bodhi wishes to all Buddhists; Zed stressed the importance of working for peace through interfaith acts.