Spots of the Buddha

Sometimes the universe finds away to hit me in the head to figure out something. In my second Sutra group class, we began to read “Virtuous Conduct” and lots of different pieces of my week came tumbling together. I heard the section that started with “His body is neither existing nor non-existing” When I first read this, I thought it was referring to Yin/Yang and I was confused. As the few days came together for me in class it all made so much sense.

It all started two weeks before when I read the sutra for the first time. I understood much of Dr. Reeve’s version. As I read the section that was confusing, I put a question mark next to it, hoping the instructor would explain it in class the next week. Sadly, that next week my cousin passed away. I heard the news while I was going to the funeral of my step-grandmother. Needless to say, it was a difficult week. As things progressed, my family and I became increasingly aware that our cousin was well known through her work, business associations and volunteerism. We knew that she was always working and traveling with the business, but we were surprised at how much she really was doing. It was hard for me to understand how I did not know all this about her since we were close. I tried to understand that it was okay not to know everything, because I loved the part of her that I did know, and that was enough. The funeral was the morning of the second sutra class. Her service was very well attended. They even set up extra seats to accommodate the crowd. My 82-year-old Aunt said it was the most she had ever seen at a funeral, and she has attended her fare share, unfortunately. As I walked in, I was overwhelmed with thoughts of my cousin. She was very well loved by so many – people from all walks of life and in all parts the world. As I sat in the church, I thought, “Everyone here knew my cousin, but only the part of her that she was when she was with them: co-worker, co-speaker, workshop coordinator or family member. As we all sat there, we were in a sense, all sides of my cousin. Together we created a whole picture of her. As we were leaving and the congregation came out to hug everyone, I realized that everyone there and even those unable to attend from other countries, would take those spots of my cousin back out into the world to spread her good spirit for the rest of their lives.

I have to admit I was in a bit of a mood that night at sutra class. As we were reading the line that had my big question mark, the pieces of the sutra came together, and I saw a deeper meaning. If Buddha is neither short nor long, neither sitting nor lying, neither walking nor standing still, maybe this was all the people seeing Buddha through their eyes, and all those people – together or apart, make Buddha whole. Also, as they walk through life, all of those people carry their spot of Buddha, as they “know” him out into the world for the rest of their lives.

As I said, sometimes the Universe has to hit me on the head to figure out something. This one didn’t leave a bruise, instead it left me remembering the positive smile and laugh of my cousin, so that I can take her out into the world for the rest of my life.

– Monica Buck