Imagine if you could invite the Buddha to your Thanksgiving celebration this year. What qualities would come to the table, even without saying a word or interfering? While we can't physically invite the Buddha, we can embody the awareness the Buddha represents, as it resides within us, waiting to awaken. Infusing your gathering with a touch of Buddha Presence can make a subtle yet significant difference.
Join me as we explore three facets of this gift to infuse into your Thanksgiving:
The Buddha's teachings centered on understanding suffering, a concept that sometimes feels like a downer in a world striving for perpetual love and light. However, suffering is a universal truth, and it exists around your Thanksgiving table. Each one of us has faced our share of struggles. Additionally, there's often a residue of generational trauma passed down through generations. Interpersonal conflicts and past hurts within families are common as well.
In the spirit of the Buddha, let's acknowledge this suffering and accept it as real. Visualize yourself cradling this collective and individual suffering gently, like a mother holding a child. This simple act can help you embody loving kindness towards yourself and others at your table.
Embracing Letting Go
According to the Buddha, clinging or attachment is a root cause of suffering, and the path to alleviating suffering often involves letting go. Challenge yourself to identify what you can let go of to free yourself from suffering. Embody this "letting go" without making a grand announcement or changing your entire identity.
Consider relinquishing the need to always be right, imposing your beliefs on others, having the last word, criticizing others' choices, or responding to past wounds with hurtful remarks. Personally, I am working on letting go of my "entitled Dad" identity, a patriarchal role passed down through generations. By doing so, I hope to transform and bring forth a different, more mindful energy without seeking attention or a new identity.
Thanksgiving is, after all, a holiday centered around gratitude, akin to what the Buddha might call joy. Joy, as defined by Pamela Ebstyne King, Ph.D., is a deep and enduring delight in what holds the most significance in our lives. It follows that these significant aspects of our lives are also sources of gratitude.
Challenge yourself to not only recognize but also fully experience the joy and gratitude that accompany these. You can be more open about this facet and share your gratitude with those at your gathering. When you feel gratitude, it becomes challenging to harbor hurt, sadness, or fear.
As we set our Thanksgiving table, let's strive to embody these principles of Buddha Awareness, even if the Buddha can't join us in person. May your Thanksgiving be filled with loving-kindness, the art of letting go, and the abundant joy of gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving.
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