Sitting on the steps of the Chau Dai Bi “Compassion Temple,” a small Vietnamese woman approaches me and says, “Thank you for coming, are you happy like the Buddha?” Her smiling face is plump and her cheeks are peached by the calming serenity and crisp air of the early November morning.
Happy like the Buddha.
Out of all of the different buddha archetypes, I think the most resilient amongst the Chau Dai Bi temple is the happy Buddha. This is easily noticeable by the way the patrons of this temple feed the foreigners, like myself, delicious vegetarian soup with smiling, happy faces.
Loving peace is a manifestation of happiness- Saintliness is arguably the same as pursuing happiness. What makes someone resilient like the happy buddha? What separates those who experience happiness despite their circumstances against those who experience sadness? I think there is an internal need for self-satisfaction that creates an individual’s drive for purpose in life.
The only way to survive eternity is to appreciate each moment.
The totality of life is experienced within a multitude of moments and many of those moments are created by our personal actions and choices. With every morning light, we are brought to the realization that we are better served rejoicing the day than cursing it. Inevitably, your life is colored by who you are and who you want to be.
Witnessing Suffering as the Buddha
I believe the greatest lessons the Buddha teaches us are those about suffering. For it was Prince Siddhartha himself that would go into the capital city of his father’s kingdom to see how the other people lived. It is here amongst the people, that the Buddha witnessed the vicious cycle of suffering and developed a sincere wish to free them from their suffering. It was through lifting the veils of ignorance that the Buddha was able to become a fully enlightened individual.
However, how do we apply the mythology of the Buddha to the struggles of our daily lives. The story of Siddhartha is a simple reminder that there is suffering in the world. I think that without suffering we would not begin to understand the complexity of nirvana or enlightenment. We must be broken to allow the light of our souls to shine through the desolate cracks.