It was on December 8 that Siddhartha Gautama was “born” as Sakyamuni Buddha. While sitting in meditation beneath a Pippala tree, Gautama made a firm resolution not to move from his sitting position until he attained Enlightenment. Since Enlightenment is known as Bodhi in Sanskrit, December 8 is called “Bodhi Day” and the Pippala tree is sometimes referred to as the “Bodhi tree.”
The word “Buddha” means “Enlightened One.” Buddhism teaches that all things have Buddha-nature, the potentiality to become Buddha. Yet to our knowledge there has been no one outside of Gautama, in over 2,500 years of Buddhism, who has attained the state of Enlightenment of Buddhahood. Not even Shinran Shonin was able to attain Buddhahood while he was alive.
December being the last month of the year, we should all take it upon ourselves to reflect upon what has happened during the past year and be very grateful for the many wonderful things that make life enjoyable.
The service held in December to commemorate the day of Buddha’s Enlightenment is called the Bodhi Day Service. This is the day Prince Gautama Siddhartha attained Enlightenment to become the Buddha, the Awakened One. Therefore this day signifies the dawn of man’s universal emancipation form suffering and ignorance.