Thursday, 20 February 2014

20 March is Bodhisattva Day

Fred Rogers, late 1960s On 20 March, I'm inviting all my brother and sister seekers to be mindful of the Bodhisattva. "Bodhisattva" is the Buddhist term for those who dedicate their lives to ending suffering, in ways large and small, and also – especially – for that bit inside all of us that urges us in that direction.

Why 20 March? Because that's Fred Rogers' birthday. "Mr. Rogers" was a North American children's entertainer ("mentor" is a better term) who embodied the Bodhisattva Way. His gentle, respectful demeanour and careful attention to those around him are legendary. It's also completely true; my brother and I met him at a public television business function when we were 4 and 6. He gave us his undivided attention, genuinely interacting with us and ignoring the politicians and PBS executives milling about. And I've had similar stories from others. Dude was real.

So there may be others as qualified as my brother Fred to be the poster child of bodhisattva nature, but I doubt there's anyone better.

Therefore I propose that 20 March be Bodhisattva Day. You don't gotta be Buddhist to get a piece; Mr. Rogers wasn't. (He was an ordained Presbyterian minister.) You just have to agree that people should strive to default to their compassionate impulses, as a matter of policy.

I further suggest that, as an unobtrusive and respectful statement of conviction, we honour this day of reflection by wearing a cardigan sweater.

But no pinching people who don't, eh?

Fred Rogers sweater
Mr. Rogers' own cardigan, now on display
at the Smithsonian.

(Photos courtesy of KUHT [Mr. Rogers on-set], Rudi Riet [Mr. Rogers' sweater], and Wikimedia Commons.)
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