My parents bought me this Buddha ornament for Christmas today and it is my favorite present. This year has been full of growth, realizations, transistion, and acceptance. Every year we buy each other a meaningful ornament, and then every year when we decorate the tree, we reflect on the stories of why we exchanged these ornaments. Sometimes, you forget the meaning of holidays when you are all wrapped up with the “I want”, the “I need”, the “Shit, i don’t have enough.” So I felt a responsibility to share with you the true meaning behind ornaments on a tree and why this Buddha means so much to me…and then maybe you…Enjoy!
The Meaning Behind Ornaments on the Tree:
Dec. 24 used to be observed on the Church calendar as the Feast of Adam and Eve. In the Middle Ages, there were religious plays called “Mystery plays”. They told story of Creation and Adam and Eve. A PROP for those plays was a Tree of Paradise: FIR tree with RED APPLES on it. These EVOLVED into our tree ornaments.
The Meaning of Buddha:
The term Buddha means “Awakened”. As he fully comprehended the Four Noble Truths and as he arose from the slumbers of ignorance he is called a Buddha. Since he not only comprehends but also expounds the doctrine and enlightens others, He is called a Samma-Sambuddha –a Fully Enlightened One.
Before His Enlightenment he was a bodhisattva which means one who is aspiring to attain Buddhahood. He was not born a Buddha, but became a Buddha by his own efforts. Every aspirant to Buddhahood passes through the bodhisattva period — a period comprising many lives over a vast period of time. During this period he undergoes intensive spiritual exercises and develops to perfection the qualities of generosity, discipline, renunciation, wisdom, energy, endurance, truthfulness, determination, benevolence and perfect equanimity. In a particular era there arises only one Fully Enlightened Buddha. Just as certain plants and trees can bear only one flower, even so one world-system can bear only one Fully Enlightened Buddha.
“Monks, there is one person whose birth into this world is for the welfare and happiness of many, out of compassion for the world, for the gain and welfare and happiness of gods and humanity. Who is this one person? It is the Tathâgata, who is a Worthy One, a Fully Enlightened One ~ Anguttara Nikaya”
The Buddha was a unique being. Such a being arises but rarely in this world, and is born out of compassion for the world, for the good, benefit, and happiness of gods and men. The Buddha is called by many epithets, among them The Great Physician, The Giver of Deathlessness, The Lord of the Dhamma (Doctrine). As the Buddha himself says, “He is the Accomplished One, the Worthy One, the Fully Enlightened One.” The Buddha had no teacher for His Enlightenment. His knowledge of the secrets of all existence was realized by himself through his own intuitive wisdom.
“Hard is it to be born a man; hard is the life of mortals. Hard is it to gain the opportunity of hearing the Sublime Truth, and hard to encounter is the arising of the Buddhas.~ Dhammapada 182″
The Buddha replied that He had destroyed Defilements which conditions rebirth as a god or a human being and added:
“As a lotus, fair and lovely, By the water is not soiled, By the world am I not soiled; Therefore, brahmin, am I Buddha!”
The Buddha had discovered the path to liberation from the cycles of continued rebirth in this world. Out of compassion for the world, he shows the path and method whereby he delivered himself from suffering and death and achieved man’s ultimate goal. It is left for man to follow the path.
Be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge ~ Maha Parinibbana sutta”
These significant words uttered by the Buddha in his last days are very striking and inspiring. They reveal how vital is self-exertion to accomplish one’s ends, and how superficial and futile it is to seek redemption through self-proclaimed saviours, and to crave for illusory happiness in an afterlife through the propitiation of imaginary gods by fruitless prayers and meaningless sacrifices.
The Buddha was a human being. As a man he was born, as a Buddha he lived, and as a Buddha his life came to an end. Though human, he became an extraordinary man owing to his unique characteristics. The Buddha laid stress on this important point, and left no room for any one to fall into the error of thinking that he was an immortal being. This is important as he sets an example for what we too can achieve if we are to put effort in practicing his teachings.