February 22, 2012 marks the beginning of the Male Water Dragon Year according to the non-Chinese Asian lunar calendar, which Shambhala Buddhists follow.
So what does this mean? From an absolute view—it does not mean much!
But from the relative world of appearances, the dragon year usually indicates an energetic and assertive year, and hopefully a magnanimous one as well, for the world is in need of good cheer, health and generosity.
In the Shambhala teachings, the dragon represents the dignity (principle) of inscrutability. One who manifests this dignity is a seasoned practitioner who is able to maintain equanimity in both meditation and post-meditation. In other words, a master warrior. This is because the dragon is said to be flexible and unbiased and is at home anywhere—in heaven or earth. The dragon often retreats in the winter, rises up in the mists of spring, brings thunder and rain to the warm earth of summer, and relaxes and admires the golden harvest of autumn.
Since this is the Year of the Water Dragon, it seems auspicious because dragons are usually seen with jewels in their claws—and this is a dragon, rising out of the water like a naga with pearls of wisdom—who knows what power, energy, or teachings may be revealed?
The word for thunder in Tibetan is druk dra, dragon sound, and indeed the dragon is known for proclaiming and being outspoken in a wakeful way. And this seems to be happening already thanks to the internet, i-phones, etc., which expose capitalistic self-centeredness and totalitarian schemes wherever they occur in the world. It is a hope that this Dragon Year may give voice to all beings—not just humans—so that their well-being may be secured.
Those born in the Dragon Year, which occurs every 12 years (so: 1904, 1916, 1928, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, and now 2012) are usually ambitious and career minded because dragons like to be challenged and enjoy daring projects. Romantically, dragons can be promiscuous and when married, they tend to expect high standards of their marriage partners. But they are also honest, forthright, and truthful. The best spouses for dragons are monkeys and rats, for they can be the most accommodating.
In the I Chingm #51 is the Dragon, known as “The Arousing (Shock, Thunder).” And it brings success. It also comes with “Laughing words—ha ha!” Just like the sudden shock of thunder which then brings rain, the earth feels the relief from the heat of summer and even joy. Yet master warriors remain composed through the heat, the thunder and rain, and smile through the celebrations that may follow.
The message seems to be that this may be an exciting year, but that we should ride the year with as much equanimity as we can muster, rather than let dramatic ups and downs ride us!