Buddha’s Birthday and the art of mindful surrender

Photo by Nine Köpfer on Unsplash

Ageless teachings from the Buddha provide a lesson on letting go of expectations and how to accept what life offers in the present moment.

What would happen if the wind blew and the trees refused to move?
How would the dandelions spread their seeds if they failed to let go?
Why does fruit naturally fall to the ground when it is ripe?

Nature is a great teacher

Nature is constantly teaching me how to live. The trees show me how to bend and be more flexible when an unexpected wind blows in my life. Beautiful flowers reassure me that it is safe to wither and age gracefully as a new transformation will transpire when I let go of the past. Fruit that matures and ripens naturally is always much sweeter and juicier when I am patient.

The teachings of the Buddha

Compassion, surrender, and patience are what I learned today – yet again.

Today is Buddha Purnima – the full moon day of May 7, 2020, marking Gautama Buddha’s birth. Lord Buddha has a special place in my heart. It was the Buddha’s teachings that inspired me to begin the ancient practice of meditation almost twenty years ago when I turned 30 and was seeking solace, direction, and meaning. At the time, a work colleague suggested I attend a weekend Buddhist retreat. My yoga teacher also regularly spoke about Buddhist teachings at the end of the class. I even went to see the Dalai Lama give a free public talk.

Looking back, however, I would say that Lord Buddha found me, rather than I found Lord Buddha. I was searching for answers and willing to end my suffering and change my life.

Life presents us with what we need to grow and evolve

This morning I was given yet another wonderful opportunity to practice Lord Buddha’s teachings. Due to the coronavirus lockdown, my parents who are both in their 80s are in self-isolation. I had my day all planned: leave home early to do their grocery shopping (I like to get to the shops early to beat the crowd – it makes social distancing during these times of COVID-19 a lot easier), drop off their groceries and do a few necessary tasks for them, and be back home by ten. Or ten thirty at the latest.

What I had planned and what the Divine had planned were completely different, as is often the case. I got delayed due to something unexpected, unforeseen, and completely outside of my control.

Now, what was I to do?

The need to surrender to what is

The two options were clearly in front of me: get annoyed or surrender to what is.

Suddenly the thought of Lord Buddha’s birthday arose, and as a result, I took the more noble path of surrender. It wasn’t easy. My mind began telling me dreaded little worries, like “The shops will be crowded soon, you should do something!” “You won’t get a car park, you need to leave now!” and “You’re sitting around wasting time; you’ve got better things to do than this!”

Each time the thoughts arose I took a deep breath and remembered Lord Buddha’s face – the face that always looks serene and peaceful no matter whether the Lord is sitting, lying down, or laughing with joy holding a huge belly.

It turns out that everything worked out – not as initially planned or expected, but as it unfolded. I returned home before lunchtime. But time is not relevant. What matters most is I was granted this opportunity to practice surrendering to the will of something greater than me.

All I need to do from now on is to remember Lord Buddha’s teachings every day, not only once a year when celebrating His birthday.

Copyright © Leisa Golding 2020

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