“Are you god?” the man asked of Gautama, a man who became a Buddha in ancient India. His calm and sure answer was ‘no.’ “Then what are you?” the man pushed on. And the answer was, “I am awake.”
Buddha, I learned, is not a person, rather, a principle: clarity, luminosity, and openness three of its pillars. The ability to be completely present in each moment – that is Buddha.
When one is able to be Buddha in each and every moment, that is Enlightenment.
I did not know that.
When one is traveling in Thailand, it would be a mistake to think that the thousands of Buddhas everywhere are in honor of a person.
Although some are. It’s very confusing.
But this explains why there are hundreds of variations on the idol.
Did you know, for example, there is a different Buddha, with a different pose, for every day of the week? Buddhists celebrate the one that is for the day they were born.
Birth days are highly celebrated in the Buddhist religion. Every Buddhist (according to our guide) knows the day of the week on which they were born, the color that coincides with that day and the animal that complements the year they came into the world, similar to the Chinese zodiac.
Which explains why I heard Natalie, from across a pavillion, yelling “Hooray! I’m a blue chicken!”