When I left for the southern hemisphere in the middle of March, I left behind a nascent spring and flew into a nascent autumn. It did not take long – less than twenty four hours – to go from one state of change (spring) to yet another, equally transformative state of change (autumn). In addition to the change in physical environment, the change in food and drink and the change in language brought about a sense of external transformation that seeped slowly from the outside to the interior over the duration of the trip…
Every new journey has the possibility, the potential, the energy, to transform us. I posit that we have all experienced such transformation(s) in our lifetime. Transformation is more than mere incremental change. If incremental change is like floating on the surface of the ocean, transformation is a deep dive where we encounter truth. Incremental change is easier to roll back, to reverse. Transformation is like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Once transformation affects us deeply, seeps beneath the surface, its effects are of a more permanent nature.
In Buddhism, this kind of deep transformation which brings enlightenment is celebrated as vesak –
…the most important Buddhist festival, commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha, and celebrated at the full moon in the Indian month of Vaishaka (April–May).
Sinhalese vesak, via Pali from Sanskrit vaiśākha, denoting the month April–May.
An intermediate step that can be encountered on the way to complete transformation is referred to as satori. It is, as Osho refers to it, a gaining of a new perspective, a “flash of lightning upon the consciousness”. An experience that transports us instantaneously into a state where we get the sense beyond senses of not being “of this world”. A state where we need not be searching under every tree of the forest with our lamp any more – because the lightning has illuminated the entire forest for us in a flash…
This is not to say that we ought to abandon our established spiritual practices, our search, and wait for “lightning to strike”. In fact, Buddha is known to have said that contrary to popular belief, his enlightenment was anything but “sudden”. It took him much disciplined practice to get to the state where his enlightenment, his transformation, appeared to be instantaneous.
For me, the message of Buddha’s journey is that if I encounter satori on the path, so be it. I shall welcome it, be grateful for it. But it certainly does not mean that I am going to stop waking and walking, evoking and inviting transformation, on a daily basis…
P.S. Join us for our weekly twitter chat – Sunday, April 15th at 9amET/6:30pmIST. We will explore the topic of “Evoking Transformation”, and I invite you to share some of your “out of this world” satori moments with us… Namaste.
P.P.S. I would be remiss if I were not to mention that today, April 14th, is the annual festival of vaisakhi – a harvest celebration marking the New Year in many Indian communities, including the Punjabi community that I am part of, and culturally identify with in food, language, song and dance… time to celebrate with some Bhangra!