Buddhists join millions across North America to watch solar eclipse

- through Henry Oudin

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From nytimes.com

The April 8 total solar eclipse passed over land on Monday, visible from Mazatlán, Mexico, in the southwest to the Canadian island of Newfoundland in the northeast. Along the way, the eclipse was visible from more than 13 U.S. states, including Illinois, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. On the “path of totality” – where the total eclipse was visible – many Buddhists celebrated the opportunity to gain increased merit through their practice.

In Bloomington, Indiana, members of the Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center and Kumbum Chamste Ling Monastery took the opportunity to hold a Medicine Buddha ceremony. bid. “I take refuge until I am enlightened,” they recited, stopping as the Moon completely obscured the Sun. (Mail log)

From courier-journal.com

Practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism traditionally pay special attention to eclipses, believing that positive or negative actions can accrue multiplied merits or demerits during the darkening of the Sun or Moon.

According to the late Lama Zopa Rinpoche of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, lunar and solar eclipses are auspicious occasions for spiritual practice. Lama Zopa Rinpoche said that the merit – which represents the positive karmic results of good intentions and actions – generated during lunar eclipses is multiplied by 700 and during solar eclipses by 000 million. Some of the spiritual activities recommended on these days include chanting mantras and sutras.

(The Washington Post)

Celestial phenomena have long fascinated humans around the world. In his anthology on The Rig Veda (1981), Wendy Doniger writes:

In the 1.154th century, Max Müller conceived and popularized the theory that all the gods of the Rig Veda were aspects of the sun. Solar mythology has now been eclipsed, but it is certainly true that many Vedic gods have some connection with the sun, that many creation hymns involve the discovery of the sun, and that many final blessings include a plea that the the faithful can continue to see the sun. Viṣṇu is a particularly solar god (cf. XNUMX), and Agni and Soma have strong solar characteristics; other gods are more vaguely solar, being described as glowing or golden and residing in the sky.


The Pali Canon texts, which focus on the teachings of the Buddha as well as the words of his closest disciples, say little about eclipses. In the Upakkilesa Sutta: Obscurations (AN 4.50), the Buddha uses the eclipse of the Sun or Moon as a metaphor for the causes of moral or religious obscurations such as drinking alcohol, sexual intercourse, taking gold and silver or practicing poor livelihood.

In the Samaññaphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Contemplative Life (DN 2), the Buddha describes forecasting eclipses and other celestial phenomena as a bad means of livelihood.

In Chinese Buddhism, an eclipse plays a brief role in the life of the famous adept Pang Yun (740-808), commonly known as Lay Pang. According to tradition, Layman Pang had a premonition of his death. When he felt it was close, he sat cross-legged on his bed and told his daughter to go out and report to him when the sun reached noon, at which time he would die. His daughter looked outside and reported that the Sun was disappearing at that time. When layman Pang went out to check, his daughter sat up on his bed and died.

Pang himself lived another week, leaving these final words: “Please simply regard all that exists as empty, but be wary of assuming that all non-existence is real. Live comfortably in a world where everything is shadows and echoes. (The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism 522)

The next total solar eclipse is expected to occur in 2026, passing over Siberia, near the North Pole, then over Greenland, Iceland and Spain. In 2027, a total eclipse will pass over much of North Africa and Yemen. And an eclipse will occur in 2028 over parts of Australia and New Zealand.

The references

Buswell, Robert E and Lopez, Donald E, eds. 2014. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. New Jersey: Princeton University Press

Doniger, Wendy. nineteen eighty one. The Rig Veda. London: Penguin Group

Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans. 2013. “Upakkilesa Sutta: Obscurations” (AN 4.50). Access to Insight (BCBS edition). http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.050.than.html

Thanissaro Bhikkhu, trans. 2013. “Samaññaphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Contemplative Life” (DN 2). Access to Insight (BCBS edition). http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.02.0.than.html

See more

Thousands gather to watch 'indescribable' total solar eclipse in Indianapolis (Courier Journal)
Fear and dread: how religions have reacted to total solar eclipses over the centuries (The Washington Post)
Maps of the April 2024 total solar eclipse (The New York Times)

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The article Buddhists join millions across North America to watch solar eclipse appeared first on Buddhadoor Global.

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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