The True Self

Photo by Jay Castor on Unsplash

…the True Self is the self that existed before the division of heaven and earth and before one’s father and mother were born. This self is the self within me, the birds and the beasts, the grasses and the trees and all phenomena. It is exactly what is called the Buddha-nature. This self has no shape or form, has no birth, and has no death. It is not a self that can be seen with the aid of your present physical eye. Only the man who has received enlightenment is able to see this. The man who does see this is said to have seen into his own nature and become a Buddha.

The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman by Takuan Soho

A Celebration of Buddha and Asian Culture

Last Sunday, on my way to the Barnes & Noble by Union Square, I was passing through the park and saw an event celebrating Buddhism called The Lotus Lantern Festival.

Lotus Lantern Festiva, Union Square, 2011.

A Buddha statue at the Lotus Lantern Festival, Union Square, 2011.

Buddhist statue with an elephant and Buddha.

I’m not really clear on the significance of the above statue, but people would step up to it, bow, and then use the dipper (you can just see the handle protruding from the bowl above the elephant) to scoop water from the bowl and pour it over the head of what I assume, by the lotus he’s standing on and the extended earlobes, to be a representation of Buddha.

A woman singing at the Lotus Lantern Festival, Union Square, 2011.

When I first walked up, a woman was singing. I don’t know what it was, or what it was about, because I missed the intro, but it sounded interesting, so I hung around for a while to see what else might happen.  After she sang, there was a demonstration of a traditional Korean dance.  I forget exactly what was said about it, but it was a celebratory dance related to successful agriculture, I think.

After I watched that, I walked through the park and just as I was getting to the other side, I started to hear Japanese pop music.  When I turned the corner, I saw there was a stage, with a live performance by a girl named Reni.

Reni onstage at the Annual Asian Culture celebration at Union Square, 2011.

On one side of the park was the solemnity of Buddhism, and on the other side of the park was Japanese pop culture, complete with cosplay and peace signs.  Weird combination.  Anyhow, I recorded one of her songs…

And then moved on past her booth…

Annual Asian Culture celebration at Union Square, 2011.

The Reni booth at the Annual Asian Culture celebration at Union Square, 2011.

…and happened to catch the tail end of a Chinese dragon dance and a martial arts display.

 

A martial arts display at Union Square Park during the Annual Asian Culture celebration, 2011.

I think it was called Wishun but I could be mistaken.

Japanese flag hanging in Union Square Park during the Annual Asian Culture Celebration, 2011.

I’m already looking forward to what I might see at the park this coming weekend.