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New Year 2008 "Year of the Waking Buddha"
January 1, 2008

Br. ChiSing, New Year 2008 Happy New Year 2008! ("Year of the Waking Buddha")

Dear mindful friends,

Today is the first day of a very exciting year in spiritual history.

2007 was a year of equanimity, of letting go, of patience and of expanding our horizons. It was a year of recovering our foundations (1st chakra); it was the beginnings of "The Great Shift" in anticipation of a possible future "Global Awakening." And it was a "wake-up call" year.

2007 was the first time in history that two Buddhists held office in the Congress of the United States of America. 2007 was the year that George W. Bush actually gave an honorary award to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. 2007 was the year that the whole world saw thousands of Buddhist monks in Burma take a stand for social justice in their country. 2007 was the year that, all of a sudden, both left and right wing believers agreed upon global warming as a real issue; and it was also the year that Al Gore received a Nobel Prize for his efforts in this direction. 2007 was the year that Hollywood began production on what is expected to be the biggest blockbuster movie in history on the Buddha's life and message (based on Thich Nhat Hanh's novel "Old Path, White Clouds") to be released into theaters in late 2008. And locally, 2007 was the year that "Breath of Life" was started in Dallas, Texas. And many of you began or became more dedicated to your Dharma practice this year as well. And in my own life, 2007 was the year that I experienced a pivotal breakthrough in my own personal practice. Indeed, 2007 was a "wake-up call" year, with Buddhism at the forefront of "The Great Shift."

I believe this New Year of 2008 will be a fertile year of joy, of energy, of positive growth (2nd chakra) and of the beginnings of greater public awareness and interest in the Dharma, Buddhism, meditation and mindfulness. I am calling this year the "Year of the Waking Buddha." Last year, the world received a wake-up call, and this year, we are going to see more and more people beginning to stir from their spiritual slumber. The collective Buddha is starting to open Her eyes, yawn, stretch, and slowly pull off the bed covers. So, my encouragement to all Buddhist leaders around the world is: "Build it now, because they are coming!" Imagine meditators in every Dharma center with "standing room only."

The next few years are critical years. What we do during this time period will determine the future direction of our world. We will either have a "Global Awakening" or the mass breakdown of modern civilisation as we know it. But either way, our Dharma practice today will be greatly needed and necessary either to aid the "Global Awakening" or to be a calm and stable light for all the people around us who will be running around in fear, confusion, despair and chaos as our ecological and economic systems start to fall apart.

The days of "Lone Ranger" spirituality are over. The only valid and viable path for any of us now is the "Bodhisattva Path" -- the path of awakening in service to others, the path of community and interbeing, the path of Sangha. And this is universal, not restricted to Buddhism. There are Buddhist bodhisattvas, and Christian bodhisattvas, and Jewish bodhisattvas, and Hindu and Muslim bodhisattvas. The point is, unless we all collectively awaken together, the future is not going to be very bright. It is up to us to make the difference, to make the shift. We are not alone. None of us is "an island unto himself."

And so, my sisters and brothers, let me encourage you to make this New Year resolution, to practice the "Sangha Lifestyle" starting today --

  • Daily: Personal meditation (20-40 minutes) at home and mindful living throughout the day
  • Weekly: Group meditation with others (Sangha)
  • Monthly: A formal or informal "Day of Mindfulness" retreat by yourself or with others
  • Quarterly: A formal or informal weekend mindfulness retreat by yourself or with others
  • Yearly: [If you can afford it,] a formal weeklong or longer mindfulness retreat with others under the direction of a Dharma Teacher
I guarantee you, if you practice this "Sangha Lifestyle" faithfully, consistently and regularly over the course of this next year, you will experience a major and pivotal breakthrough in your life and spirituality that will be of benefit to all beings. You will set yourself upon the Path of Enlightenement "with no regression." You will have begun your training as a Bodhisattva. And you will find yourself supported by all the wisdom, love, joy, peace and strength of the Universe on your journey. "Yes!" and "Thank You!"

May we and all beings be happy and loved.
May we and all beings transform our suffering.
May we and all beings rejoice in each other's joys.
May we and all beings let go, be content and at peace.

In joyful gratitude,
Br. ChiSing
"True Wonderful Happiness"

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