Morning Star Has Risen, Lotus Is In Bloom

Through mindfulness, Siddhartha’s mind, body, and breath were perfectly at one.

His practice had enabled him to build great powers of concentration which he could now use to shine awareness on his mind and body. He began to discern the presence of countless other beings in his own body right in the present moment… He saw his own past lives, all his births and deaths. He saw the creation and destruction of thousands of worlds and stars. He felt all the joys and sorrows of every living being… He saw that every cell of his body contained all of Heaven and Earth, and spanned the three times — past, present, and future…

Without wavering, he shined his awareness on his mind. He saw that living beings suffer because they do not understand that they share one common ground with all beings. Ignorance gives rise to a multitude of sorrows, confusions and troubles…. that have their roots in ignorance. When we learn to calm our minds in order to look deeply at the true nature of things, we can arrive at full understanding which dissolves every sorrow and anxiety, and gives rise to acceptance and love.

Gautama now saw that understanding and love are one. Without understanding, there can be no love. Each person’s disposition is the result of physical, emotional, and social conditions. When we understand this, we cannot hate even a person who behaves cruelly, but we can strive to help transform his conditions. Understanding gives rise to compassion and love, which in turn give rise to correct action. In order to love, it is first necessary to understand, so understanding is the key to liberation. In order to attain clear understanding, it is necessary to live mindfully, making direct contact with life in the present moment, truly seeing what is taking place within and outside of oneself. Practising mindfulness strengthens the ability to look deeply, and when we look deeply into the heart of anything, it will reveal itself…

Siddhartha knew he had found the Great Way. He had attained his goal, and now his heart experienced perfect peace and ease. He thought about his years of searching, filled with disappointments and hardships… He promised to find a way to share his discovery to help all others liberate themselves from suffering…

Just then, Svasti appeared. When Siddhartha saw the young buffalo boy come running towards him, he smiled. Suddenly Svasti stopped in his tracks and stared at Siddhartha, his mouth wide open. Siddhartha called, “Svasti!”

The boy came to his senses and answered, “Teacher!”

Svasti joined his palms and bowed. He took a few steps forward but then stopped and gazed again at Siddhartha in awe… “Teacher, you look so different today. “Siddhartha motioned for the boy to approach. He took him into his arms and asked, “How do I look different today?”

Gazing up at Siddhartha, Svasti answered, “It’s hard to say. It’s just you look so different. It’s like, like you were a star.”

Siddhartha patted the boy on the head and said, “Is that so? What else do I look like?”

“You look like a lotus that’s just blossomed. And like, like the moon over the Gayasisa Peak”…

Siddhartha grasped Svasti’s hand. “This is the happiest day I have ever known. If you can, bring all the children to come see me by the pippala tree this afternoon. Don’t forget to bring your brother and sisters. But first go and cut the kusa grass you need for the buffaloes.” Svasti trotted off happily as Siddhartha began to take slow steps along the sun-bathed shore.

~ Thich Nhat Hahn,  Old Path White Clouds