Easter falls on a completely different calendar Sunday every year, but it also falls on exactly the very same Sunday every year — it just depends on how you look at it.
Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon following the spring equinox, every year. It’s a little complicated, and because it happens on different dates every year, it’s referred to as a “moveable feast.”
It coincides with the end of winter and the beginning of spring, symbolically mirroring death and rebirth. It’s a fitting time to reflect on both earthly and spiritual resurrection and ascension.
It’s a wonderful time of the year. The darkest days are done and brighter times are on the way.
It’s not a Buddhist holiday, but the themes of resurrection, rebirth, and ascension are common threads in our tradition.
Not all forms of Buddhism, however, ascribe to the idea of literal rebirth or reincarnation. Some actually have a similar notion of a heavenly abode, and others have more complex ideas of heaven, hell, purgatory and many other levels or realms of existence and being.
Though the Buddha was actually silent on all matters that dealt with metaphysics, he offered what’s called the “Four Assurances” regarding resurrection and ascension, which I paraphrase here:
If there is a heavenly abode that awaits us, then a life well spent with virtuous actions will surely be rewarded with eternal life in heaven.
And if there is no heavenly abode, but another life in this earthly plane, a life well spent with virtuous actions will surely be rewarded with yet another lifetime in a more exalted station in this earthly plane.
And if there is no other life on this earthly plane, then a life well spent with virtuous actions will surely be rewarded in the lifetime of the one so honorably disposed.
And finally, if there is no outward reward in the lifetime of one so honorably disposed, that honorable person will have the inner reward of knowing for themselves that they have done the right thing.
I think the thing might be that we really don’t need any reward, and that true virtue is probably not transactional, anyhow.
Can’t tell you for sure, but that’s how I like to think of it. And it seems like a good thought or resolve to hold as things begin anew and the sap rises again in the spring.
Blessings to you all, and Happy Easter!
Rev. Charles Isen (Kelley) Weaverling
Pathless Way Cordova Zen Community