Looking back, how did we encounter Buddhism? Some people read a book and became fascinated by the message of Buddha. Some people became interested because of Buddhist artwork. Some were looking for peace and tried meditation. Some learned about Buddhism through a friend. Some prayed to a Buddha statue and had their prayers answered. The doors that one enters are varied but one thing is for sure. We were opened to the idea of Buddhism at that point in time.
Planting a Bodhi Seed is a term that can literally mean planting a Bodhi Tree. However, in spiritual practice, it also means to leave an impression of Buddhism in the mind of others. By doing so, others will be more open to Buddhism when the correct conditions are present. This can happen in their present or future lives.
Just like a seed that is buried in the ground, sprouting when the temperature, moisture, sunlight etc is right.
One Buddhist story narrates a man being attracted to Buddhism because countless lifetimes ago, he was a fly that landed on some rubbish floating around a Buddhist monument. That incident left a conducive impression in his consciousness. Like all story, it is meant to convey the powerful effect of subconscious influence over daily decision making.
Fast forward to our modern era, advertisers make use of the same principle to influence our spending decision!
So how do we help plant a Bodhi seed in the mind of others?
Basically, it is similar to advertisement. We can use imagery or sound. This are the 2 main perception that allow us to acquire Buddhist Knowledge. Therefore, we create such imagery /sound and make sure others can encounter them. Here’s some example.
- Sharing of Buddhist imagery. For example, mantra and Buddha images being carved on to stone in Himalayan Countries. Name of Buddha painted on walls of monasteries. A statue of Buddha on our work desk. Buddhist wallpaper on our computer screen. Wearing a Buddhist prayer beads. T-shirts with simple Buddhist message.
- Sharing of buddhist sounds. For example, Buddhist music (mantra singing) playing lightly in the background. In our conversation , we can also drop subtle Buddhist idea, such as Karma. Another example, it become habitual for me to exclaim the name of Buddha in various situations. Instead of “Oh God! what happened to you?”, I will be saying “Amitabha! Are you alright?”
- Sharing beliefs through our conduct. For example, by practicing the 1st precept – avoidance of harming other beings. ( I created a mini commotion when I refused to wack a mosquito feeding on me when I was in the Army! That incident created curiosity and subsequently, people approached me to find out more about Buddhism and peace)
This practice needs to be considerate and not cause offense or inconvenience to others. It is just there but not screaming for attention. The skill of this practice depends on your wisdom. That way, the impression is subtly imprinted in the consciousness of others.
The target audience are people who are not interested in Buddhism. It is different from sharing Buddhist knowledge with people who are already curious about Buddhism.
The above are just examples and you will need to access the situations and conditions at your location. For example, it may be OK to paint “Om Mani Padme Hum” by the road in the Himalayan Mountain. But if I do the same thing in my country, I will be arrested for vandalism.
Have fun thinking of how you can practice “planting a Bodhi seed in others” and share your methods too. May all be well and happy.