Happy Birthday to the Buddha

According to the calendar that I snatched from my parents during Christmas because it is full of beautiful pictures of San Francisco that make be very homesick, it's the Buddha's birthday today.

Of course, that depends on whether you are Mahayana or Theravada Buddhist.  If the former, then it's the Buddha's birthday today.  If the latter, then you celebrated the Buddha's birthday, enlightenment, and death on the last full moon (May 2nd).

Anyway, in explaining the difference to an officemate between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism, I said that the Mahayana tradition was closer to UU.  The truth is that Mahayana is closer to what I wish UU to be.  I don't actually know which one is closer to what UU is in actuality.

The ideal in the Theravada tradition is the Arhant - someone who has left the negative influences of society in order attain enlightenment and achieved it. The ideal in the Mahayana tradition is the Bodhisattva - someone who vows to put off one's own enlightenment in order to help all other sentient beings.  In Theravada salvation/liberation/enlightenment is individual.  In Mahayana salvation/liberation/enlightenment is communal.  It is Universalist.  No one is saved unless everyone is saved.

Which is not to say that Theravadan Buddhists don't care about social justice.  The dichotomy isn't that simple.  At any rate, here's a shout out to the man who started it all.  Happy (belated) Birthday to the Buddha.

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