For most of the world, Buddha’s birthday was Tuesday. It’s a bit complicated because the math involves a Chinese lunar calendar and his birthday never falls on the same day of the year except in Japan where they celebrate it on April 8th .
Either way, I missed it.
But I like having people forget my birthday and remember it later. It’s fun to get late phone calls and late gifts and be having dinner a week later when someone says “Wasn’t it your birthday? This one is on me.” Makes the celebration last for days, sometimes weeks.
In that spirit, I’m celebrating Buddha today. Belatedly.
I asked my sister today what she would get someone who wanted nothing. She said “We talking about Buddha?” I said yes and she thought for a second before saying “Does he need a meditation pillow? Maybe a new sarong?” Then she said “Really, he’d want you to focus on your own life instead of on him.”
She’s a smart one.
There’s a legend that Buddha gave up austerity and ate a bowl of rice porridge to keep from harming his body through extreme deprivation. This revelation caused him to achieve another level of enlightenment so rice and milk are served at many of the Buddha birthday celebrations in Asian nations.
I can’t give Buddha a meditation pillow so I made brown basmati pudding with coconut milk and cardamom and ginger instead. I used a recipe from the Rebar Modern Food Cookbook, recipes from a restaurant in Canada. You can find the recipe on a blog here and don’t you know there’s someone who attempted cooking through the whole cookbook here, so you can find more recipes and commentary (the madness of Julie Powell lives on…)
This rice pudding is a slightly sweet aromatic comfort food, like breakfast or a mild dessert if you dressed it up with fruit or sugar. I figured Buddha would want his simple and plain, so that’s what I made for him.
Then I spent three hours focusing on myself in two consecutive yoga classes, one Hatha and one Yin. I had the same teacher for both classes and she said the same thing in both classes:
“When your body resists, listen. It usually means you’re holding onto something. Learn to say: I let go. I surrender.”
In the spirit of the Buddha, I listened and I said “I let go. I surrender.” I think I’ll have to let go and surrender again in the next class and the one after that and the one after that, but maybe eventually I’ll learn.
Life is a process. So is yoga. So is letting go.
Happy birthday, Buddha.
The Divinity in me bows to the Divinity in you.