Cheerful New Year of the Wood Sheep (or Goat!). Just three more days.
But first we had to get through the most dangerous time of year in the Buddhist calendar:
The Year of the Wooden Horse just galloped off and made way for the Year of the Wood Sheep, or as it is sometimes called the Year of the Wood Goat.
What does this all mean?
From the absolute point of view, nothing! What is good and sane to do in one year does not vary from year to year. But relatively, there are certain qualities and advice that go with each year.
In the Asian and Buddhist tradition, each of every 12 years is assigned an animal totem because it is said that these are the animals that came to bid farewell to the Buddha at his parinirvana. These 12 animal totems are then combined with the five elements, which in turn are ruled by five planets: Fire is ruled by Mars, the Earth element by Saturn, Metal by Venus, Water by Mercury, and Wood (the unity of the previous four elements) is ruled by Jupiter.
These five elements and 12 totems combine to comprise the 60 year cycle of the life of a human being.
Traditionally the Year of the Wood Sheep, which begins this year on February 19th, is a time for personal harmony, tranquility and creativity. But simultaneously it is a time of ups and downs in the global economy and in politics.
At issue in both the personal and global cases is the difficult need to create sane boundaries. At the personal level we see that the technology that was to free us so often imprisons us, for too often even when we have a bit of free time, we find ourselves mindlessly messing around with our phone or computer. So the challenge for this year is to find a good work-life balance by creating boundaries.
In order to have time to meditate, do yoga, go for walks or hike or jog; in order to have time to relax, play, socialize, be with family, and celebrate—it actually takes discipline! So to create boundaries one needs to schedule and prioritize. This means scheduling time to turn off the phone and shut down the computer. And family members can remind each other of these sacred times—for example, with a simple rule of “phones turned off during meals!”
Globally, in this new era of climate change, scientists in the journal Science, published January 15, 2015 coincidentally investigated what they called nine key “planetary boundaries” beyond which climate effects are unpredictable and dangerous for human civilization. Some of these nine boundaries, which have already been broken are: levels of extinction, deforestation, atmospheric carbon dioxide, and nitrogen and phosphorous pollution from chemical fertilizer runoff.
Increasingly individuals in North America are aware of the importance of green energy and want to be more environmentally friendly. More and more people are seeking green products, services and lifestyles.
But Canadian and American governments—provincial, state and federal—have not been as responsive to climate change reform. Canada, for example, was ranked in 2013 as #55 out of 58!
The economy is not an excuse. The low worldwide oil prices indicate that this coming Year of the Sheep is the time to diversify into renewable energy and other green innovations. Oil can no longer be the keystone of national economy. Solar panels are plunging in cost and are more efficient.
The governments of the United States and Canada need to follow the lead of their citizens and set an example by implementing green policies. Governments could fund research, subsidize environmentally conscious companies and create opportunities for green investment and innovation. They could take the lead.
Sheep tend to follow a strong leader, but for this coming year the leader needs to be wise and willing to address the planetary boundaries. Otherwise it will be the Year of the ornery Goat! Citizens will protest like never before, if more sustainable and ecologically friendly policies are not introduced and supported, for the Goat has a more independent nature than that of the Sheep.
Individuals born in this year (or previously in 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991 or 2003) tend to be dedicated to a particular pursuit or creative career. They also need to resist being impulsive, quick to speak or act—especially resisting the temptation to spend money without reason. Thus they make good partners with those born in the year of the Rabbit or Pig, who tend to balance their impulsiveness.
So this year it remains to be seen if it will be the Year of the Sheep or the Year of the Goat!
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Linda Lewis
Editor: Travis May