As astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson reminded us via Twitter, the 1st of January is an arbitrary date to celebrate the New Year, and has no astronomical significance. However rituals are powerful ways of marking time, and, as we pass from 2015 into 2016, it’s inevitable that we’ll reflect on the past and on the future.
Buddhist psychology suggests that we are re-creating ourselves over and over again, and mostly we recreate ourselves in the same old way. We do have some influence over this process, however, and the rituals and communal sense of renewal surrounding the New Year celebrations is a great time to think about what self we created in the past year, and what we might like to change in the next.
This time last year we chose the word kalyana mitra to guide us, and the temple, through 2015. Kalyana mitra means something like spiritual friend, and 2015 was a year of deepening relationships and learning how to embody the dharma in our friendships.
For 2016 we’ve chosen the word generosity to guide us. In Buddhism generosity is seen as the antidote to selfishness, and as a virtue in its own right. Just as Amida is generous with his love, I hope we can be generous with the love that appears in the temple, with our time and in our friendships.
We can use particular precepts or virtues like this to guide us in our daily life. We can ask ourselves, ‘Am I being generous in this interaction?’ for example, and be interested in when we feel resistance to embodying that virtue or precept, or when we fail to keep it.
When we feel the love of the Buddha we will tend to keep the precepts more easily, and without thinking about them. But we are not beings of complete faith, and working with a precept or principle in this way can highlight our own particular bonbu nature.
When we find ourselves naturally being generous, or keeping the precepts, we should give thanks to the Buddha for his teaching, and his spirit, which inspires and motivates us. When we fail in being generous, or in our precepts, we should also take this as an opportunity to go to the Buddha. If we feel loved, even in our bonbu state, we can accept our failings with grace, and move forward.
We hope to see you soon, at one of our regular weekly events, or one of our special events (see below).
Kaspa & Satya,
Coming Temple Events
Sat 16th Jan 10am – 5pm Retreat Day – New Beginnings – a mixture of Dharma talks, practice and discussion. (FB invite) Suggested donation £45 including lunch. Booking essential – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sat 6th Feb 11am – 4pm Volunteer day
Sat 6th Feb 7.30pm – 8.30pm Saturday Night Dharma: How to love – talk followed by time for Qs and a cuppa. (FB invite)
Coming other events
Kaspa’s Mindfulness Classes from Tues 12th or Thurs 14th Jan. More details here:Mindfully whole.