May 10th this year was the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese calendar: the birthday of Siddhartha. It is a holiday in South Korea where I spent a year absorbing Korean culture into my identity, so I decided to honour the holiday by performing 108 bows to Buddha, refraining from killing anything (even bugs), eating completely vegetarian meals, and eating every last grain of rice from those meals. I had hoped for a sunny day so that I could go to a park and bow in front of the small statue of Buddha I keep on my desk, but I live in Halifax. So it rained.
A quick Google search led me to the Shambhala Temple where the bemused secretary (after telling me about the temple’s free meditation lessons) said that I could use the Buddha in the lobby if I wanted. They did not have a full statue (and I did not expect them to), so I began in the lobby, thumping my knees into the linoleum floor until the next secretary on a shift change suggested that I use one of the shrine rooms. She told me that I could light candles and incense and close the door. It was all mine. Continue reading