Bodhi Day (Jodo-e)
It is said that on this day, December 8, 566 BCE, Siddhartha Gautama attained Enlightenment as he meditated under a tree that has become known as the Bodhi Tree, the Tree of Enlightenment. At the age of 35, he became known as the Shakyamuni Buddha.
The legend of Prince Siddhartha is well known. Although he enjoyed great material wealth and social position, he was still unsatisfied with his understanding of life. At the age of 29, he relinquished his title and left his family in search of Truth. For six years he diligently practiced all manner of ascetic disciplines. It is said that near the end, in his hope to rid himself of all attachment, he renounced even food and fasted to the point of nearly dying. At this point near death, he felt no closer to realizing the Truth of Existence. He rejected the ascetic path and took nourishment again. He began to comprehend the Middle Path; understanding that damaging one’s body is not the path to clear thinking and a healthy mind. According to the Mahayana tradition, in the early morning of December 8th, Siddhartha became a Buddha, an Awakened One.