Happy V-M Day Today! Or the "Victory over Mara", which is one way of expressing that today is a traditional date Buddhists commemorate the Enlightenment of the Buddha. In the Japanese tradition it is also known as Jodo-e. It is briefly described in BDK's The Teaching of Buddha:
"It was an intense and incomparable struggle for him. He was desparate and filled with confusing thoughts, dark shadows overhung his spirit, and he was beleagured by all the lures of the devils. Carefully and patiently he examined them one by one and rejected them all. It was a hard struggle indeed, making his blood run thin, his flesh fall away, and his bones crack.
But when the morning star appeared in the eastern sky, the struggle was over and the Prince's mind was as clear and bright as the breaking day. He had, at last, found the path to Enlightenment. It was December eighth, when the Prince became a Buddha at thirty-five years of age." (p.7-8)
Buddha's Enlightenment illuminated the path for all humanity to follow as they were able. Although we may assume some "poetic license" in the traditional stories, we should not assume this was an easy thing to do. We don't often read about blood, sweat and tears in the meditation catalogues (might not match well with the eco-cushions!) but that is the essence of overcoming fear. It it were so easy to accomplish, we should all become Buddhas! Fear and delusion are components of our lives; letting go is not easy. We become so accustomed to living like this, that we mistake them for normality. While it may look simple on paper, and we discuss Enlightenment in terms of "inner peace" and "serenity" this really only obscures our deepest anxieties. We are even fearful of not being "Buddhist" enough!
All this should even more make us appreciate the Buddha's accomplishment. Not only by his Awakening but his subsequent 45-year teaching career to show us how to overcome fear, the forces of Mara the Deceiver. Tradition states that there are 84,000 paths to this Enlightenment. Whether we are able to do meditation practice, or devote ourselves to faith in Amitabha (Amida) or other myriad Buddhas, or other practices, ALL of it originates in Buddha's Victory this day. Let us allow fear and worry to dissipate! Buddha bless all beings!
Namo Amida Butsu