It’s Easter and unusually, because it is a leap year in the Hebrew calendar which adds an extra month to get the full moon cycles in sync with their lunar holidays, Passover is still a month away. When they are closer together it is easier to imagine that The Last Supper was a Passover ritual meal and easier to understand both festivals as celebrations of the flourishing of renewal of the spirit as well as the renewal of the earth. I think of getting out of Egypt as escaping the narrow constrictions of the mind that inhibit the expression of compassion and the resurrection as symbolizing the undying potential of love. In the northern hemisphere these are spring festivals and new plants and eggs are part of both Easter and Passover rituals. (I’ve often wondered how it feels to celebrate Succoth, the harvest festival, in Sydney when the days are getting lighter and warmer in September and October.)
What I’ve decided is that, apart from planting and harvesting as the earthly context that either matches or does not match the season, the inner context of days we designate as holy never varies. They are days of paying attention and remembering that everyone and everything is interconnected. Of remembering that impartial, unshakeable love is the universal antidote to enmity, the constructor of barriers in the mind that creates the sense of separation and suffering. The days leading up to major holidays (Easter and Passover and everything else) are days of preparation: The Holiday is coming! Clean the cupboards! Take inventory so nothing is overlooked. I think of Moral Inventory as including what is in my closets that I need to give away and what is in my mind (old grudges and expired belief systems) that I could release, anything that keeps me self-preoccupied rather than interested in and connecting with the world around me.
The Dalai Lama, commenting on the Buddha’s description of the Divine Abodes of the Mind, describes how unbounded love and compassion for all beings is the end of suffering and the source of happiness. He commented on the ability to rejoice in the good fortune of others as being especially potent. “Imagine,” he said, “celebrating other peoples’ good fortune. The odds are very good. You could be eight billion times as happy as you are.”
Celebrating the potential of the human mind and heart to be free to love seems to me the essence of it all. Happy Easter. Happy Passover on April 22. Happy The Buddha’s Birthday on April 8 in Japan or on May 14 in Sri Lanka. Happy Mother’s Day.
Or, how about ANY day being a good day to remember that we are free to love whenever we remember to be awake in the world that we are part of, not separate from. How about Happy ANY Day to celebrate life. Today is always the first day of the rest of your life.