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Cheerful (Eastern) New Year!
Life can be so hard.
The end of a year is hard. From a Buddhist point of view, the last few weeks have been the hardest time of the year. Now, today, is the New Year—the year of the Water Dragon. There’s info about what that means, and doesn’t mean, in my mom’s article,below.
This last year was the worst year of my life. It was, however, an immensely productive year. If you believe in reincarnation (and I don’t), and take the long view, I worked through a lot of karma or obstacles this year.
Life isn’t always sunny, obviously. There’s cold days and windy days and, occasionally, an evil pestilential tornado earthquake tsunami. The last year I’ve gone to bed, on average, at 2 am. Average. I’ve stared at a computer screen just about every waking hour, seven days a week. And it’s been so bad for a personal reason that I can’t yet talk about.
Still, for the most part, I’ve loved my simple, boring, workaholic life. Working hard, doing something I love that is hopefully of some benefit, feels like a fun privilege. This new year, however, I’m going to take a step back from the laptop/wifi/internet, and into our talk show. I look forward to talking with, and learning from, and sharing up, the wisdom of human beings in 3D!
Today is Shambhala Day. I’m about to bike off, with my dog, to a celebratory community brunch. I missed the talk by my teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, but (thanks, internet) I’ll be able to listen to it here. elephant’s new assistant editor, Brianna, and a few other elephants came to the New Year celebration at our local Shambhala Center, a building that is part of the landscape of my inner life. It was interesting, seeing my Buddhist heritage through their open, fresh eyes. I blogged up about what we do and why, here, for them—and for you, if you’re curious.
The next year will be full of pain, suffering, heartbreak, and sadness for many of us across the world. This being the human realm, it will also at the same time, be full of joy, accomplishment, and wonder for many. And in between the good and bad…there’ll be the present moment, waiting for us to “stop rejecting and accepting, and just be.”
And that’s where life happens: here. Now. And that’s why my year of boredom, patience, diligence, suffering and stress was ultimately to the good.
For, as Sakyong Mipham reminded us today, human beings aren’t selfish. We’re taught that we are, by society, and it’s a self-fulfilling misperception of how things work.
In reality, if you or I see a puppy or bird, injured—our heart immediately expresses itself in compassion, pre-thought. Yes, we’re all cynical, confused jerks. But our neurosis is workable. And when we work with it, when we face our own music, we find that our confusion is akin to clouds in the sky.
And then, finally, we can always remember that it’s always sunny, above the clouds.
And that’s why I wish you a Cheerful, not a Happy, New Year.
Yours in service is the ultimate smile,
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